emagiC CMS.Net v4.0
Create Powerful Web Sites
By Anand Narayanaswamy
Content Management System (CMS) applications are becoming very popular within the developer community. One reason for this trend is the lack of time we developers have to create a Web site from scratch. Moreover, a developer can easily deploy a Web site in a few minutes without any major effort by simply following the instructions in a manual. emagiC CMS.Net is one such product it enables a developer to create a powerful Web site in a short period of time by taking advantage of its powerful features. The product is entirely developed using ASP.NET 2.0 and can be managed with either SQL Server 2005 or SQL Server 2005 Express Edition.
When I reviewed emagiC CMS.Net v1.3 last year (http://www.aspnetpro.com/productreviews/2006/05/asp200605an_p/asp200605an_p.asp), it had very little functionality. But in the newly released version (v4.0), the vendor has extended the feature set by including many advanced functionalities. Primarily, the vendor has put more emphasis on security-related aspects.
To get started, download a free license from http://www.emagiccms.com/Products/emagiC+CMS.Net/Download/page.aspx/39. You ll be required to enter certain information and the vendor will e-mail the download location and license keys. I received the relevant information within minutes of submitting the form. Be aware that the free license is valid for one community, one domain, 50 pages, and one administrator. However, the free license comes with all the standard modules (WYSIWYG editor, breadcrumb, document gallery, dynamic menu, image editor, and more).
For a change, I deployed the product to a remote Web server rather than testing it locally (as I did when I reviewed v1.3). Although I had suggested that the vendor simplify the installation process when I reviewed the previous version, I had to follow the same set of steps to install this new version which includes uploading the relevant files to the root directory, restoration of the database, modification of the trust level to full, and the creation of relevant host headers. I also started ASP.NET State Server using Internet Information Services (IIS), as it is required for the product to function properly. Additionally, you must create a separate domain pointer to access the administration interface of the product.
I advise customers to work closely with their hosting provider to configure the previously mentioned permissions if they don t have access to the remote server. Once these steps are completed, you can log in to the administration interface using the default username and password. The vendor has organized the various elements on the administration page very nicely (see Figure 1). Even though you ve installed the product successfully you still must create a domain and enter the required license key supplied by the vendor from the management section of the administration interface to access the home page of your site.
Figure 1: A view of the administration interface.
A nice feature to note regarding the product is that, because it recognizes each site as a separate community, you need to set up the product only once on a remote server to manage all your Web sites. You don t have to upload the files and specify the permissions again for each domain. I m sure this will reduce the work of developers and Webmasters.
One of the core features of v4.0 is the implementation of the Microsoft Office 2003 connector (see Figure 2). This functionality enables you to view and edit documents stored in the document library, directly from within Office 2003 without any need to log in to the administration interface. You simply need to open Word, Excel, or PowerPoint and connect to the document library of the product. It is available as a free module and the installation procedure can be launched from the administration interface.
Figure 2: The Office 2003 connector in action.
Although many developers currently use Office 2003, the vendor should ve also provided the connector for Office 2007. Hopefully it will be included in the next version of the product. Version 4.0 of the product also includes an integrated image editor, with which you can optimize your images easily (see Figure 3). I was amazed to see several built-in filters such as colors, brightness, contrast, blur, sharpen, flip, and rotate, which enables you to modify an image.
Figure 3: Explore the image editor.
With the help of v4.0, you can upload all your documents and images in bulk using FTP without any need to upload them one by one using the administration interface. Simply upload your files to the server and synchronize using the bulk import feature included with the product. You can explore all the features included with the product at http://www.emagiccms.com/Products/emagiC+CMS.Net/page.aspx/9.
The vendor also upgraded the WYSIWYG editor to FreeTextBox v3.1.6, which is an added bonus to the product. The vendor provides comprehensive documentation in HTML and CHM help format. The technical manual can be referenced during installation, but the user manual contains the requisite information regarding every feature of the product, with concise explanations and screenshots (it s also available in PDF format). The vendor also provides excellent support through e-mail and maintains an online discussion forum at http://forum.emagiccms.com.
Version 4.0 also includes several new modules that provide support for Multimedia, Active Directory, and Search connector powered by dtSearch (http://www.dtSearch.com). The product also ships with an optional SharePoint connector module that enables you to display in your Web site content from Microsoft SharePoint Portal Server 2003. You can even customize the information you want to be displayed on your pages and extend the site by tweaking the Application Programming Interface (API) of the product, which now includes more than 200 classes and 3,000 objects.
An interesting feature of v4.0 is that it includes new authentication features based on the electronic IDentity Card (eID); two logon modules for that purpose have been integrated with the CMS. With the help of the first module, which is based on the middleware software of the Belgian Government, you will be able to log in to the extranet or into the administration interface using your Belgian eID card. The second module, referred to as logonPkSuite, is based on eID technology from Intesi Group (http://www.intesigroup.com). Although this technology is currently only available for Belgian and Italian eID cards, the vendor is planning to expand it to other countries in the near future (once these countries have implemented the electronic identity card technology). The product also provides support for Load Balancing, which is useful for those who wish to deploy the product in Web Farms.
Using the Language Matrix tool you can also link pages in one language to corresponding pages in other languages (see Figure 4).
Figure 4: The Language Matrix tool in action.
The vendor has implemented single sign-on functionality, which enables visitors to log in using their relevant NT account. This feature is only useful if you use the product in an Intranet or extranet environment. This version also has the ability to deliver newsletters from within the administration interface.
A Web site based on emagiC CMS.Net can be used by any person without having any technical knowledge. But to implement and administer it, users require a basic understanding of the ASP.NET technology. The product will scale new heights if the vendor implements AJAX functionality in the next version of the product.
Anand Narayanaswamy, a Microsoft Most Valuable Professional (MVP), works as an independent consultant and runs NetAns Technologies (http://www.netans.com), which provides Web hosting services based in Trivandrum, India. Anand also works as a technical editor lead for http://ASPAlliance.com. He runs http://www.Learnxpress.com, http://Dotnetalbum.com, and http://Csharpfaq.com. Anand is the author of Community Server Quickly (Packt Publishing). You can explore more information about the book at http://www.communityserverbook.com. Find out more about him at http://www.visualanand.net or e-mail him at mailto:[email protected].
Web Site: http://www.emagiccms.com
Price: Plans start at approximately US$2,000