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Admin UI Roadmap

Topics: Administration, Core
Dec 15, 2014 at 5:07 PM
Edited Dec 15, 2014 at 5:08 PM

We have a developed a custom CMS used by quite big sites, and we are evaluating the option to adopt an open source project like Umbraco or Orchard, and start contributing to that project instead of our solitary effort.

I really like Orchard source code, architecture and openness but I think that the current approach for managing content in the dashboard is not well suited for big sites with many sections, editors and designers. On the other side, Umbraco shines in that feature.

After watching Sebastien Ros talk about "Orchard 2.0 Vision + Q&A", he mentions that some comparisons of Orchard with other CMS and points. In particular, he says that Orchard is behind Umbraco in the easy of use in the dashboard. I also see in the roadmap that there is a "Admin - UI improvements" task in the backlog.

The questions are:
  • Anyone has the same view of the content management?
  • When is it expected to begin improving the Admin UI?
  • Do you plan to change to a hierarchical content based dashboard (like Umbraco) or stick with the content by "type" one (like Orchard or Wordpress)?
Dec 15, 2014 at 5:42 PM
I most definitely share your opinion.

The UX of content management in Orchard is one of its biggest weaknesses. Don't even get me started, I can spend all day just listing specific shortcomings, one worse than the other. It's all very 1996 with its page-based and click-heavy navigation and interaction model.

As for when improvements should be expected, I'm not the one to say. I know there are on-going efforts (or at least discussions) of overhauling the admin UI for version 2.0. I have tons of ideas myself and a reasonably clear vision, but I have not involved myself in these efforts yet.

One thing you should expect to see improved very soon though (one which I am personally working on) is the editing experience of the new Ochard.Layouts module. The newly introduced layouts functionality is awesome, but the editing UX in its current form leaves something to be desired. The upcoming improvements are going to rock, and put the interactive dynamic layout editing experience of Orchard way ahead of any other CMS that I know of.

As for hierarchical management of content, I'm not entirely sure that's very suitable for the content model of Orchard.
Dec 15, 2014 at 7:41 PM
Edited Dec 15, 2014 at 7:43 PM
As a matter of facts, Orchard is perfectly capable of managing hierarchical contents. It's just that it doesn't make that mandatory, so things can remain simple where they don't need to be complicated (there's some research indicating that most people don't grok tree structures). If you need to surface hierarchical contents, there is a module that does that:
Dec 17, 2014 at 5:05 PM
May be I am a little biased by our CMS that uses a hierarchical way of managing content, and that I don't know enough or Orchard, but there are some use cases that I really feel hard to acomplish with Orchard current approach based on document types.

Can you please help me to solve them with Orchard so I can defend it with our customers?
  • How can an editor know what template, document type, widgets (banners, links, etc) and permissions are applied to a certain url like "/about-us/why-we-are-different"
  • How can a coordinator give permissions to editors to only some sections (content, widgets, etc) of the site like "/news/europe" (and no others)?
  • How can an editor move entire sections, maintaining the theme and permissions (and optionally saving a 301 redirection to the previous url)? From what I understand, Orchard it applies the theme based on the url.
Dec 28, 2014 at 2:30 AM
  1. He can't really know for sure, because arbitrary logic can back widget layers. He would have to look at the layer rules and figure it out. Using good naming in your layers goes a long way. Design documentation can help too.
  2. I think that would require a custom module. I'm not sure I understood that however. Do you want to restrict the slugs they can enter in the editor?
  3. Orchard applies the theme on potentially arbitrary rules. There is an interface called IThemeSelector that you can implement to apply any theme based on any criteria you define. The default one that comes with Orchard enables you to define the theme for a tenant.