Product Review: Kentico CMS 5

A feature-rich CMS for ASP.NET website creators

Longtime readers of DevProConnections and its predecessors may know that I've been following the evolution of Kentico's content management system (CMS) product for several years. Kentico has continually upgraded its CMS to further simplify the creation of websites for ASP.NET developers, and the recent iteration of the product reviewed here—Kentico CMS 5—is no exception. (Note: As this article was going to press, Kentico released version 5.5 of its CMS. Read more about Kentico CMS 5.5 here.)

Kentico CMS 5 ships with many enhancements new to the product since the previous version, which I reviewed here. As with previous versions, you download the product from Kentico's website, and the installation process is the same. The installer ships with the ability to handle User Access Control (UAC) on Windows 7 and Windows Vista.

If you want to try the product before buying, you can test-drive it with the help of the virtual lab service, where the entire Kentico CMS 5 application is installed on Kentico servers and includes four sample sites for corporate, e-commerce, social networking, and personal usage.

New Features
A core feature of Kentico CMS 5 is the implementation of widgets, shown in Figure 1.

 

Figure 1: Sample widgets in Kentico CMS 5
Figure 1: Sample widgets in Kentico CMS 5

 

The CMS not only allows you to personalize specific parts of the page but also enables you to set every web part as a widget. The product ships with separate widgets for administrators, content editors, and website visitors and also makes it easy for you to drag and drop widgets between widget zones. You can also set permissions so that the widgets can be used in group, editor, and user zones, as Figure 2 shows.

 

Figure 2: Managing widgets in Kentico CMS 5
Figure 2: Managing widgets in Kentico CMS 5

 

Kentico CMS 5 lets administrators and content editors upload media files of more than 2GB with support for HD playback. The media library interface sports a new look and feel with an improved user experience. The menu controls have column list settings in their properties, which can reduce the amount of processed data. The file uploader included with the product can inherit allowed file extensions from settings, and the flash web part supports additional flash parameters.


An interesting feature of Kentico CMS 5 is that administrator can impersonate another user without knowing the relevant credentials, which administrators may find helpful for performing management tasks and troubleshooting. The product ships with a powerful tool for importing users and groups from Active Directory and provides support for bidirectional staging, staging of physical media files smaller than configured limit, and staging of custom tables' data. Staging tasks can be logged asynchronously, which may improve the response time of the editing UI.

Additional features in Kentico CMS 5 include the latest version of the FCKEditor open source text editor and built-in facilities to allow permanent redirection, URL rewriting, and scheduled tasks for garbage collection and newsletters. Also notable is that Kentico has removed SQL Server 2000 support in Kentico CMS 5; you can use the system with SQL Server 2008 or 2005.

Points to Consider
Based on my experience using Kentico CMS 5, content editors will need to invest some time becoming familiar with the UI and using the product. The provided documentation can help users master the product. Kentico also maintains a blog where the support team members regularly post tips, articles, and patches relating to the product.

I think the cost of the product is bit high, although the product offers many valuable features for website creators. For those with tight budgets, a feature-limited free version of Kentico CMS is available that users can employ to create their websites.

The many new features in Kentico CMS 5 make it a significant improvement over previous versions of the product. I recommend it as a highly useful tool for webmasters who want to use an ASP.NET-based CMS for the creation and management of websites.


Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Website: www.kentico.com
Price: Starts at $1,999; see www.kentico.com/buy.aspx for details.

Anand Narayanaswamy ([email protected]), a Microsoft MVP, works as an independent consultant based in Trivandrum, India. He is the author of Community Server Quickly (Packt) and runs www.learnxpress.com and www.dotnetalbum.com.

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