The all new Umbraco 8

  • Umbraco

Umbraco is the user friendly open source content management system that we at Perplex have been using for years to make the internet prettier, better and more efficient. Ever since the first Umbraco 8 (the next big major release) announcement our expectations have been huge. In the past years of Umbraco’s development, Umbraco mainly focused on the options, possibilities and extensions for developers. In more recent releases more and more attention is given to the user experience and the editor. Umbraco 7 completely redid the back-office UX, a very worthwhile upgrade for the editor. And, according to Umbraco, Umbraco 8 will be the next step, for both developer and editor alike.

Part 1: the editor point of view

In this series of blogs we will give you a tour of the development and extensions of the Umbraco CMS, specifically Umbraco 8, as seen from the point of view of an editor, developer and UX designer. So, to get the ball rolling, I decided to write the first blog. So here is Umbraco 8 from the editors point of view.

Lay-out and sections

From the moment you first log into Umbraco 8 you will immediately notice the most obvious change: the section bar has moved from the left side of the screen to the top! This also means that the user information has moved to the upper right of the screen, along with the version information, tours (which give the user a short visual explanation on how to use the CMS or specific function) and the search bar. This opens up in a separate layer meaning it is no longer a part of the content tree.

The content of the section bar has also been changed:

  • Packages are now accessible in their own dedicated section
  • The Developer section has been merged with the Setting section

To tab or not to tab?

Perhaps the most obvious change in the doc types is the lay-out of the tab structure; properties are no longer divided over different tabs at the top of the page, they are now shown as separate ‘sections’, called accordions, within the page.

On opening a page the accordions are folded out by default. It does offer the option to close it again, allowing you to get a clear view of all the items on the page.

Content Apps

Two tabs have remained however, the Content and Info tabs. If a doc types makes use of a list view, this will also be delegated to its own tab. In Umbraco 8 these tabs are called Content Apps and you can create and add your own tabs. Another function that has been relocated is the rollback option. This option can now be found on the info tab in the window containing the documents history.

Infinite editing

The launch of Umbraco introduces infinite editing: an endless path of editing possibilities. If, for example, you want to edit an image you wish to use on a content page. When you select the image in the media picker on the doc type but want to change the image’s focus point or dimensions, you can now do this in screen. This means you no longer have to leave the doc type or section, but simply edit the image from within the screen you were working on and you can save this image as a part of the page you’re editing.

Umbraco 8 opslaan opties

Member settings and profiles

As editor you also won’t be distracted by the Member settings any longer. Within this section you only have to worry about creating, editing and managing the Members and Member Groups. All the settings can now be managed by a developer from the Settings section.

Save or Publish

Previously, the option to save a page was hidden away ‘behind’ the publishing function. Now however, both functions have their own, clearly visible button. This means that Preview, Save and Publish are all visible at all times.

Scheduled publishing and publishing++

Not a new function, but it has been relocated within the CMS. Scheduling options for publishing a page used to be situated on the properties tab, but has now been moved to the Publish button. In a pop up you can set the desired publication date and (if required) when this content is to be taken offline again. After saving these settings however, you can no longer review them (in previous versions, the values set where visible on the properties tab). The only way of checking this setting is by clicking ‘Schedule…’ once more or whenever you try to publish a change to the page. At this point, Umbraco will gave a warning that it is not possible to publish the page because it is waiting to publish a scheduled content update.

Publish with descendants

The Publish button now also has a ‘Publish with descendants’ function. With this function you can publish not just the current page but also all of the underlying pages, with a single button press. It even offers the option to publish offline page or pages that have not yet been published.

As an editor, how does this make me feel?

I was positively surprised at the launch of Umbraco 7 because it was obvious and clear how much more attention had been given to the editor. While Umbraco 8 is clearly following the path set out by its predecessor, it is also obvious that there is less of a leap in progress for editors compared to Umbraco 7.

Infinite editing

I do really look forward to the infinite editing functionality. Nothing annoys me more than ‘getting lost’ in my own CMS. I’m also really happy with the separate save button, making a simple save that much easier. 

Tab structure

Admittedly, I do have my doubts about the removal of the current tab structure, especially if a page has many properties. The ability as an editor to quickly see that I forgot to enter a meta title and description (for example) is nice, but that does mean these properties need to be above ‘the fold’. I have my doubts on whether or not this will actually be possible on every page type because a page will have a lot more options and settings to manage.

Take a look at an example

Besides, in my opinion an editor doesn’t need every property all the time. Content that an editor will manage and change on either a daily or weekly basis needs to be readily accessible. Use one tab for content the editor is likely to change the most and another for content that is more static, such as the header. Settings could also use their own tab. These would be properties that you set once during the launch of the site and would only rarely, if ever, need to be changed such as the Google Analytics code or whether or not the page should be set to use no-follow and no-index settings. The new Umbraco 8 method no longer supports this more user friendly way. The editor will always see all available options on the node. 

Editor: DIY

Curious about Umbraco 8? We made a ready to use installation for you to play around with:

https://umbraco8preview.perplex.eu/umbraco/

User name: perplexrocks@perplex.nl
Password: perplexrocks

Experience the changes and form your own opinion on the next big major release. And let me know what you think!

From another point of view…

As I mentioned, Umbraco not only thought about the editor, also for the programmer and the designer Umbraco 8 offers new developments and expansions. Umbraco 8 is also more than suitable for realizing multilingual websites and platforms. Keep an eye on our blog for part 2, in which we show you how multilingual websites are supported in Umbraco 8!

Interested in helping Umbraco evolve?

At Perplex we are convinced of Umbraco’s power and versatility, which we continuously use to create complex platforms, websites and applications for interesting clients. But, we also invest in the CMS and do our part by making Umbraco even better. Sounds good no? If this caught your interest and if Umbraco makes your heart skip a beat, do not hesitate to call and come over for a cup of coffee!

Contact us

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