Tutorial - Creating a Custom Dashboard


    This guide takes you through the steps to setup a simple Custom Dashboard in Umbraco.

    What is a Dashboard?

    A tab on the right-hand side of a section eg. the Redirect Url Management dashboard in the Content section:

    Redirect Url Management Dashboard


    It is generally considered good practice when you build an Umbraco site to provide a custom dashboard to welcome your editors and provide information about the site and/or provide a helpful gateway to common functionality the editors will use. This guide will show the basics of creating a custom 'Welcome Message' dashboard and then show how you can go a little further to provide interaction using AngularJS...

    So all the steps we will go through:

    • Setting up the dashboard plugin
    • Writing a basic Welcome Message view
    • Configure the Custom Welcome Dashboard to be displayed.
    • Adding styles
    • Adding an AngularJS controller
    • Display the current user's name in our welcome message
    • Display the current user's recent updates
    • Create a shortcut button to add a new blog post
    • You can do anything...


    This tutorial uses AngularJS with Umbraco, so it does not cover AngularJS itself, there are tons of resources on that already here:

    There are a lot of parallels with Creating a Property Editor, the tutorial 'Creating a Property Editor Tutorial' is very much worth a read through too.

    The end result

    At the end of this guide, we should have a friendly welcoming dashboard displaying a list of the editor's recent site updates.

    Setting up a plugin

    The first thing we must do is create a new folder inside our site's '/App_Plugins' folder. We will call it 'CustomWelcomeDashboard'

    Creating the dashboard view

    Next we will create a HTML file inside this folder called 'WelcomeDashboard.html' the html file will contain a fragment of a html document and so does not need <html><head><body> entities.

    Add the following html to the WelcomeDashboard.html

    <div class="welcome-dashboard">
        <h1>Welcome to Umbraco</h1>
        <p>We hope you find the experience of editing your content with Umbraco enjoyable and delightful. If you discover any problems with the site please report them to the support team at <a href="mailto:">support@popularumbracopartner.com</a></p>
        <p>You can put anything here...</p>

    Configuring the dashboard to appear

    Open up your dashboard.config file from the /config folder of your site. Explanation of the Dashboard Config settings are here...

    Add the following section:

    <section alias="Custom Welcome Dashboard">
        <tab caption="Welcome">

    So the terminology here gets a bit muddled but we're creating a 'Section' (but this is not the same 'Section' as the 'Content Section' - which inside this config file is referred to as an 'Area'), this is specifically a 'Dashboard Section' that you can use to group your dashboard tabs and controls together.

    The above configuration is effectively saying:

    "Add a tab called 'Welcome' to the 'Content' area/section of the Umbraco site, use the WelcomeDashboard.html as the content (view) of the dashboard and don't allow 'translators' to see it!"

    Note: The order in which the tab will appear in the Umbraco Backoffice depends on its position in the dashboard.config file, so to make our Custom Welcome message the first Tab the editors sees in the content section, make sure the above configuration is the 'first' section configuration in the dashboard.config file.

    Note: You can specify multiple controls to appear on a particular tab, and multiple tabs in a particular section.

    Note: You can remove existing dashboards, and control who gets to see them by updating the other configuration sections in the Dashboard.config file

    The Result

    Custom Dashboard Welcome Message

    Adding a bit of style

    Congratulations! job done - no actually no, this is just the starting point the dashboard can be styled as you want it to be with CSS, but there are a couple of further steps to undertake be able to apply a custom stylesheet to the dashboard:

    We need to add something called a package.manifest file to our CustomWelcomeDashboard folder

    Note: This file allows Umbraco to load other resources to use with your HTML view - it is just a file - named by convention 'package.manifest' and will contain the configuration of the resources to load in JSON format

    When Umbraco loads the dashboard it will look for this file in the same folder as your HTML view (remember the dashboard config points to the html view) and use the manifest to load the additional resources, eg CSS and JavaScript files.

    This manifest file is simpler to the one you would create for a custom property editor

    Inside this package manifest we add a bit of JSON to describe the dashboard's required JavaScript and stylesheet resources:

            /*javascript files listed here*/
        "css": [
            /*list of stylesheets appear here:*/

    Now create a stylesheet in our CustomWelcomeDashboard folder called 'customwelcomedashboard.css', and add some styles, I don't know perhaps a bit of purple:

    .welcome-dashboard h1 {

    This stylesheet will now be loaded and applied to your dashboard. Add images and html markup as required:

    Custom Dashboard Welcome Message With styles...

    Note: One caveat is the package.manifest file is loaded into memory when Umbraco starts up, so if you are adding a new stylesheet or JavaScript file you will need to start and stop your application for it to be loaded.

    Hopefully, now you can see the potential of what you could provide to an editor as a basic welcome dashboard when they log in to Umbraco.

    Adding functionality

    We can add functionality to the dashboard by associating an AngularJS controller with the HTML view.

    Let's add a new file to the CustomWelcomeDashboard folder called 'customwelcomedashboard.controller.js' where our controller code will live.

    We register this AngularJS controller to the Umbraco Angular module:

    angular.module("umbraco").controller("CustomWelcomeDashboardController", function ($scope) {
        var vm = this;
        alert('hello world');

    In our html view, we update the outer div to wire up to the controller to the view:

    <div class="welcome-dashboard" ng-controller="CustomWelcomeDashboardController as vm">

    Note: The use of vm (short for view model) to enable communication between the view and the controller

    Finally, we need to update the package.manifest file to load the additional controller JavaScript file when the dashboard is displayed:

            /*any comma delimited list of JavaScript files appear here*/
        "css": [
            /*a comma delimited list of stylesheets appear here:*/

    If all is setup fine we should now receive the 'Hello world' alert every time the dashboard is reloaded in the content section of Umbraco, not very helpful, yet.

    Going further - Umbraco Angular Services and Directives

    Umbraco has a fine selection of angular directives, resources and services that you can use in your custom property editors and dashboards, the details are here: https://our.umbraco.com/apidocs/ui/#/api

    For this example it would be nice to welcome the editor by name (Umbraco is a place where everybody knows your name...), to achieve this we can use the userService here to customise our dashboard welcome message and increase friendliness:

    We inject the userService into our AngularJS controller like so:

    angular.module("umbraco").controller("CustomWelcomeDashboardController", function ($scope,userService) {

    and then we can use the userService's promise based getCurrentUser() method to get the details of the current logged in user:

    var user = userService.getCurrentUser().then(function (user) {
        vm.UserName = user.name;

    Tip: Notice you can use console.log to write out to the browser console window what is being returned by the promise, it helps to debug, but also understand what properties are available to use.

    Finally we can now update our view to incorporate the current user's name in our Welcome Message:

    <h1>Welcome {{vm.UserName}} ...to Umbraco</h1>

    Custom Dashboard Welcome Message With Current User's Name

    and for reference the full contents of /customwelcomedashboard.controller.js at this stage of the tutorial should look like this:

    angular.module("umbraco").controller("CustomWelcomeDashboardController", function ($scope,userService) {
        var vm = this;
        vm.UserName = 'guest';
        var user = userService.getCurrentUser().then(function (user) {
            vm.UserName = user.name;

    I know what you did last Tuesday...

    A returning editor may find it useful to see a list of the last few articles they have been editing, with a handy link to load and continue editing (instead of having to remember, and find the item again in the Umbraco Content Tree).

    We can make use of Umbraco's Angular resource for retrieving audit log information, the logResource using the getUserLog method to return a list of items the user has saved recently.

    We inject the logResource into our controller:

    angular.module("umbraco").controller("CustomWelcomeDashboardController", function ($scope, userService, logResource) {

    Add a property on our ViewModel to store the log information:

    vm.LogEntries = [];

    Add to our WelcomeDashboard.html view some markup using angular's ng-repeat to display a list of these log entries:

    <h2>We know what you edited last week...</h2>
            <li ng-repeat="logEntry in vm.LogEntries">{{logEntry.nodeId}} - {{logEntry.comment}} - {{logEntry.timestamp  | date:'medium'}}</li>

    Back in our controller we'll populate the array of entries using the logResource, returning any log entries of 'Save' type:

     logResource.getUserLog("save",new Date())
       .then(function (response) {
            vm.LogEntries = response;

    However looking at the console output will reveal the data retrieved by the logResource is a little sparse eg:

                comment:"Save Content performed by user"

    There is a bit of work to be done to provide something meaningful to the editor from the audit log!

    We can use the entityResource, an Umbraco Angular resource that enables us to retrieve more information about an entity given its id.

    Inject this into our angular controller:

    angular.module("umbraco").controller("CustomWelcomeDashboardController", function ($scope, userService, logResource, entityResource) {

    We need to loop through the response from the logResource, filter out 'saves' we're not interested in eg, Macro Saves, or DocType Saves, generally we need the entry in the log to have a nodeId and mention either Media or Content in the comment text.

    The entityResource then has a getById method that accepts the Id of the item and the entity 'type' to retrieve useful information about the entity, ie its name and icon.

    Putting this together:

       logResource.getUserLog("save", new Date()).then(function (response) {
            var logEntries = [];
            // loop through the response, and filter out save log entries we are not interested in
            angular.forEach(response, function (item) {
                // if no entity exists -1 is returned for the nodeId (eg saving a macro would create a log entry without a nodeid)
                if (item.nodeId > 0) {
                    // this is the only way to tell them apart - whether the comment includes the words Content or Media!!
                    if (item.comment.match("(\\bContent\\b|\\bMedia\\b)")) {
                        if (item.comment.indexOf("Media") > -1) {
                            // log entry is a media item
                            item.entityType = "Media";
                            item.editUrl = "media/media/edit/" + item.nodeId;
                        if (item.comment.indexOf("Content") > -1) {
                            // log entry is a media item
                            item.entityType = "Document";
                            item.editUrl = "content/content/edit/" + item.nodeId;
                        // use entityResource to retrieve details of the content/media item
                        entityResource.getById(item.nodeId, item.entityType).then(function (ent) {
                            item.Content = ent;
                vm.LogEntries = logEntries;

    Finally update our view to use the additional retrieved entity information:

        <h2>We know what you edited last week...</h2>
        <ul class="unstyled">
            <li ng-repeat="logEntry in vm.LogEntries"><i class="{{logEntry.Content.icon}}"></i> <a href="/Umbraco/#/{{logEntry.editUrl}}">{{logEntry.Content.name}}</a> - <span class="text-muted">(Edited on: {{logEntry.timestamp  | date:'medium'}})</span></li>

    and we should have a list of recently saved content and media:

    We know what you edited last week...

    Note: the url /Umbraco/#/content/content/edit/1234 is the path to open up a particular entity (with id 1234) ready for editing.

    I know what you want to do today

    One of the key user journeys an editor will make in the backoffice is to create a new thing of some sort, and if it is a person's job to create new blog entries in the same section two or three times a day, why not create them some handy shortcuts to achieve these common tasks:

    We can use the knowledge that by convention a link to 'edit a page' (as used above) when passed the additional querystring parameters doctype=alias and create=true, can be made to present the user with a brand new content item of the alias type to create within the section.

    Add the following to our view:

        <a class="btn btn-primary btn-large" href="/umbraco/#/content/content/edit/1075?doctype=BlogPost&create=true"><i class="icon-edit"></i>Create New Blog Post</a>

    Where 1075, is the id of our blog section, and BlogPost is the alias of the type of document we want to create.

    Handy shortcut buttons

    Custom External Data - creating your own angular resource

    You can create your own custom angular services/resources, to interact with your own serverside data (using UmbracoAuthorizedJsonController), The property editor tutorial has a step explaining how to do this part 4 - Adding server-side data to a property editor.

    What else? - what are you waiting for?

    Perhaps the Dashboard is a gateway to a third party system or a tool to search specific content, or tools to help clean up existing content. extend extend extend

    Asteroids... ?

    really you can put anything here