Kentico CMS for ASP.NET 4.0
Build website content quickly and easily
By Anand Narayanaswamy
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Price: US$999 to $2,999; a free version is also available.
In the current economic situation, companies may find it difficult to keep programmers on staff to regularly update website content. Hence, many webmasters use content management system (CMS) applications, which let users easily add and edit content. Kentico Software's Kentico CMS for ASP.NET 4.0 is an extremely powerful system which, when put to use, enables website owners to rapidly create their sites by incorporating numerous features quickly.
The installation process is basically the same as for Kentico CMS 2.1, which I reviewed in the May 2007 issue of asp.netPRO (online at http://www.aspnetpro.com/Productreviews/2007/05/asp200705na_p/asp200705na_p.asp). Kentico provides seven days of access to an online demo, which lets prospective customers evaluate the features without downloading the software. However, you will not be able to do any kind of programming work, such as adding or editing custom code and ASP.NET files, on the server. The whole process for the site setup takes less than 10 minutes.
To add content, you need to create a new page, which can be done by right-clicking the relevant node and selecting New item from the pop-up menu. A list of options will appear, as shown in Figure 1. The next step is to select a template, as Figure 2 shows.
Figure 1: Creating a new page
Figure 2: Selecting a page template
As you can see from the screenshot in Figure 2, Kentico CMS provides a number of page templates to choose from. A new option with the relevant name of the page will appear on the left node. The rich text editor with built-in spell check will automatically become active with relevant text boxes for content creation, as Figure 3 shows.
Figure 3: Content creation in progress
Once you have an active template in place, it's very easy to work with Kentico CMS. In addition to uploading the raw content, developers can upload the relevant supported file and can also create custom fields depending upon their project requirements. They can also use the published content on several pages and can file articles under various tags. To load the relevant article, the end user selects the tag from the list. You can use the Preview feature to review the content before making it live.
Kentico CMS lets you create and maintain articles, newsletters, forums, blogs, polls, news, wikis, product listings, FAQs, and knowledge-base articles. It also comes with a powerful module for implementing e-commerce functionality into your website with support for search-engine optimization (SEO), as Figure 4 shows. Through this functionality, Kentico CMS generates friendly URLs with support for a wide range of browsers, such as Internet Explorer, Firefox, Netscape, Opera, and Google Chrome.
Figure 4: Modifying article metadata for search-engine optimization
Additional interesting aspects of Kentico CMS are the product's native support for Silverlight 2.0 and the fact that it works under a medium trust level environment. I hope this latter feature will help a substantial number of users, as many hosting providers don t enable full trust on the server.
Kentico CMS for ASP.NET 4.0 is available in four editions: Professional, Enterprise, Social Networking, and Free. The core features are the same for all these editions, but some advanced features are not available in the Free and Professional editions. I found that there is a limit to the number of blogs and forums that you can manage, but this limit won't affect developers who want to build their own website. The paid editions let you create an unlimited amount of content with support for social networking, which enables your visitors to submit the content to several popular websites, such as Digg, StumbleUpon, del.icio.us, Twitter, MySpace, and many more. I was, however, surprised to see the omission of DotNetKicks.
The product incorporates several security-related features, such as support for forms authentication and Windows and Windows Live ID authentication including the integration of a custom user and role database. Administrators can ban IP addresses and isolate unacceptable content (e.g., profanity) if the website has been abused as well as create personalized content.
Many content developers have started to use social networking websites to expand their reach. By keeping this development in mind, the vendor has provided a separate module in the Community Starter Site package, which lets developers design a Facebook-style look and feel into their websites. In addition to this package, the product also ships with ready-made sample site packages, such as Corporate Sample Site, E-commerce Sample Site, and Personal Sample Site. These packages will serve as an entry point for developers, as the packages enable developers to build and customize their site quickly, depending on their requirements.
Kentico CMS lets you view content in multiple languages, including Chinese, and even languages written from right to left, such as Arabic or Hebrew. This capability lets a developer build and manage multiple sites with a single installation. It ships with built-in support for full-text search, dynamic site map, and breadcrumbs. The product provides fully customizable site structure, navigation, design, and layout, including an option to create custom Web Parts. The vendor also provides source code for the administration interface with all Kentico CMS editions. You can obtain the code for the control libraries at an additional cost; this code will likely be useful for advanced developers.
The vendor maintains a dedicated support portal at devnet.kentico.com, which lists the latest staff blog posts, including a marketplace from which you can download free templates and Web Parts. You can also access forums, knowledge-base articles, and documentation from the portal. The vendor provides excellent email and telephone support. Kentico resolved all my issues within one working day from the date of its submission. The site currently lacks video tutorials, which would be of significant help to beginners to easily understand the product's functionality.
A Complete Website-Building Tool
Kentico CMS for ASP.NET 4.0 includes all the essential modules for building content for your website, but it's up to the web developer to fully utilize them. Once you understand how to use this product, I expect that you'll find it easy to build and maintain websites quickly.
Anand Narayanaswamy ([email protected]), a Microsoft MVP, works as an independent consultant and technical editor for ASPAlliance.com, based in Trivandrum, India. He has published several articles and reviews for various websites and is the author of Community Server Quickly, published by Packt. He runs http://www.learnxpress.com and blogs at http://www.visualanand.net.