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Accelerate Web Site Development with Kentico CMS - Content Management System for ASP.NET

, 10 Apr 2007
Do you spend days and nights developing dynamic web sites in ASP.NET? Do you need to simplify your job, get more sites done and gain more clients? Kentico CMS for .NET will help you.

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Many web site developers spend dozens of hours on tedious and repetitive programming tasks instead of focusing on the real needs of their clients and companies. They get stuck in technical problems without moving forward and when they finally finish their projects in the middle of the night, they are over time and over budget. If you are one of them, Kentico CMS will help you solve the troubles. It is designed to speed up the development of dynamic web sites, portals and intranets and help developers focus on the goals and results.

How Do I Spend My Time?

If you're a web site developer, you may often find yourself doing the same things again and again. You typically:

  • Build navigation.
  • Write code for management of articles, news, product descriptions, etc.
  • Integrate additional modules or third-party applications, such as newsletters, on-line forms, forums, e-commerce and others.
  • Write and adjust HTML and CSS code.

How Can I Speed Up the Development?

When you use Kentico CMS, you will do the same, but with a ready-to-use and flexible system. It provides lots of features out-of-the-box, so you do not need to write any complex code. Still, you can always customize the system behavior or extend it with your code.

With Kentico CMS, you can choose between two development models:
  1. Flexible portal engine that allows you to build pages from web parts and ASCX user controls. Unlike other portal engines, Kentico CMS for ASP.NET gives you full control over HTML layout and design, so you're not limited to a few predefined templates. The advantage of this approach is that you can create new dynamic pages using browser-based interface, usually without writing any code. You can enhance the site with custom web parts or ASCX user controls.

    Kentico CMS for ASP.NET Portal Engine
  2. ASPX page templates which are standard ASP.NET pages with code behind. You can drag and drop Kentico CMS built-in controls or third-party server controls. You can also enhance the pages with custom code as usual. The ASPX page templates can be developed using Visual Studio 2005 or Visual Web Developer 2005. When you use built-in Kentico CMS .NET controls, you only set up their properties (e.g. the documents to be displayed), without writing any additional code behind.

    Kentico CMS for ASP.NET Template in Visual Studio 2005

Both of these models are equivalent and provide the same level of flexibility and customization options, so you can choose the model depending on your experience and preferences. Both of these models were designed to simplify and speed up common development tasks.

Building Site Navigation

Building a flexible site navigation may require lots of complex coding. With Kentico CMS, you do not need to write any code – Kentico CMS allows you to manage the site navigation (site map) through the browser-based interface, with up to 14 levels of nesting:

Kentico CMS for ASP.NET Navigation

For every menu item, you can specify its caption, visibility or even custom URL or JavaScript command. The tree hierarchy is then used to display dynamic web site navigation using built-in web parts/controls, such as drop-down menu, tree menu, CSS list menu, tab menu or site map. Please note that the menu items reflect the tree hierarchy on the figure above:

Kentico CMS for ASP.NET Menu Controls

Since you do not need to write any additional code or integrate third-party controls, you can build the navigation in a few minutes and then adjust the menu CSS styles for your design.

Defining Page Templates

Every page created with Kentico CMS for ASP.NET is based on some page template created by web site developer. The page template defines the layout and design of the page. Content editors can re-use the same page template for multiple pages to keep the site design consistent. Page templates may contain dynamic web parts/controls (such as menu, list of articles, etc.) and it may also contain editable regions. The editable regions specify the areas of the page that can be edited by content editors:

Kentico CMS for ASP.NET Page Template with Editable Regions

As you can see, the content can be edited using a browser-based WYSIWYG editor that provides basic formatting features and allows you to create links and insert images and Flash animations.

Managing Articles, News and Other Document Types

With Kentico CMS, you're not limited to predefined document types, such as articles or news. Instead, you can easily define your own document types, such as product details, job opening or real estate offering. The following figure shows the product details editing form:

Kentico CMS for ASP.NET Document Editing Form

Every document type may have any number of custom fields of different types. The following figure shows how you can define the form fields using the field designer:

Kentico CMS for ASP.NET Custom Fields

You can then easily display documents using built-in web parts/controls, such as repeater, datalist or grid:

Kentico CMS for ASP.NET Data List View

Now you might say: "I can do all of that using ASP.NET without any CMS!" You're right, but the difference is HOW you do that and HOW MUCH TIME you spend on it:

Pure ASP.NET – how you do it now Kentico CMS for ASP.NET – how you save your time
You need to:
  • create a new database table
  • write SQL queries
  • design the editing form
  • write ADO.NET code
  • ensure input validation
Typical time: 2+ hours
You do the following through the browser-based interface without any programming:
  • go through the New document type wizard
  • define the fields, their types and validation rules
Typical time: 10 minutes
You need to:
  • create a page
  • place the DataList (or similar) control
  • write ADO.NET code or set up data source and add code that will specify which records should be displayed
  • define ItemTemplate
Typical time: 20 minutes
You need to:
  • create a page
  • place the DataList (or similar) web part/control
  • set up web part/control properties to specify which documents should be displayed
  • define transformation (similar to ItemTemplate code)
Typical time: 20 minutes
You may need to:
  • write code to enable full-text search in records
  • write code to enable displaying the content in several languages
  • write code to ensure permissions for both editing and viewing the content
  • write code to enforce a workflow or approval processes
  • write code to store older versions and enable rollback
Typical time: hours or days
You may need to:
  • set up a few parameters and configure the built-in security system to achieve the functionality listed in the left column
Typical time: minutes

As you can see, Kentico CMS provides a ready-to-use and highly flexible framework that reduces the time required to create the editing interface and display the content on the web from hours to minutes.

Using Built-In Modules Instead of Writing Them from Scratch

The dynamic web sites usually require more than dynamic content – you often need to integrate additional functionality, such as on-line forms, surveys, questionnaires, forums, shopping cart, image galleries, newsletters and others. You will typically have to write these from scratch (which is very expensive) or integrate third-party products (which may be very complex). With Kentico CMS, you get most of this functionality out-of-the-box and you can easily integrate them into the web site while providing the site owners with single user interface and consistent user experience. Kentico CMS comes with following built-in modules:

E-commerce/shopping cart

Easily integrate shopping cart into your web site and enable on-line purchase of products.

Kentico CMS for ASP.NET E-commerce shopping cart

Discussion Forums and Article Comments

Drag-and-drop integration of built-in Forums module into the web site. Configure forum access, moderated forums and subscriptions.

Kentico CMS for ASP.NET Forums and Comments

On-line Forms, Surveys and Questionnaires

You can easily build simple on-line forms, such as "Contact Us" or "Register for Event", as well as customer surveys, and save data in database. The forms can be created and published by content editors without any programming.

Kentico CMS for ASP.NET On-line forms, surveys and questionnaires

E-mail Newsletters

Author and mail out personalized e-mail newsletters to subscribed visitors. You can send the newsletters either manually or you can send e.g. "last week articles" on a scheduled period.

Kentico CMS for ASP.NET Newsletter

Image Galleries

The image gallery displays the uploaded images. You can fully customize the size and design.

Kentico CMS for ASP.NET Image Gallery

Web Design and CSS Styles

You can fully customize the rendered HTML code and define custom CSS styles. The code rendered by Kentico CMS is fully XHTML compliant and you can use both table- and CSS-based layouts and menus. For a better user experience and productivity, you can edit the HTML code in your favorite editor, such as Visual Studio or Dreamweaver.

Extending the Site with Custom Code

Even though Kentico CMS is highly customizable by design, you can use custom code at many places to modify or extend system functionality:

  • you can create custom ASPX pages with code behind
  • you can create custom web parts and user controls
  • you can write custom event handlers to process global events, such as "new document", "updated document", "new user", "authenticate user", etc.
  • you can write custom providers, such as search provider
  • you can customize the administration interface for content editors
  • you can integrate custom or third-party applications and modules

This can be done without having full source code. If you need to make changes to the CMS engine core libraries, you can also purchase the C# source code and make any changes to the system then.

Getting Things Done

You can benefit from higher productivity when using Kentico CMS for web sites like:
  • corporate web sites
  • intranets
  • extranet portals with secured content for partners and clients
  • e-commerce sites
  • community sites
  • knowledge bases
  • on-line directories
  • ... and others.

The main idea behind Kentico CMS is to simplify and accelerate web developer daily tasks and provide developers with flexible framework to build on. Besides, Kentico CMS is available for prices that are affordable for every serious dynamic web site – the prices start at only $448 for a single web site license with 1-year upgrades and technical support. Kentico CMS is being used by more than 500 web sites in 50+ countries.

If you want to see how it can help you get more sites done in less time, download the free trial version now at http://www.kentico.com/download.aspx.

You can also find more details at the following URLs:

You can also contact us at info@kentico.com.

License

This article has no explicit license attached to it but may contain usage terms in the article text or the download files themselves. If in doubt please contact the author via the discussion board below.

A list of licenses authors might use can be found here

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About the Author

Petr Palas
Web Developer
Czech Republic Czech Republic
Petr Palas is founder of Kentico Software (www.kentico.com), the producer of professional solutions for web developers. Kentico Software is focused on development and marketing of Kentico CMS for ASP.NET. Our goal is to create the most flexible and easy-to-use web content management solution for ASP.NET developers.

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