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  • Mike 15 posts 34 karma points
    Mar 23, 2015 @ 08:52

    Profitable Umbraco workflow?

    I used Umbraco on a project instead of wordpress recently and I have had a lot of fun learning it and writing my own code but it is very time consuming. I have integrated designs and written a ton of code but it feels like I am trying to reinvent the wheel and I don't think my clients would notice the difference if I had just installed wordpress and a few plugins.

    I need some advice on how to have a structured workflow for building Umbraco sites. The projects section doesn't have reviews so it real hard for a newcomer to tell what's going on. I have done my best to piece things together. I'm only interested in working with open source code.

    I made mistake of using recent version so a lot of code doesn't seem compatible.

    I discovered the hybrid framework and archetype which are very useful but not sure what else I should be using.

    Should I have one Umbraco installation and set up clients as different websites in the same installation or multiple installations?

    Wordpress has lots of flexible templates built for developers/designers, does Umbraco have anything similar?

    It seems to me Umbraco is mainly used by corporates. Is is feasible to use it and turn over sites with additional functionality quickly without all the plugins that wordpress has to offer?

  • Alex Skrypnyk 5507 posts 20676 karma points MVP 3x admin c-trib
    Mar 23, 2015 @ 10:49
    Alex Skrypnyk

    Hi Mike,

    Umbraco is very customisable and flexible CMS. The Hybrid Framework is just technic how to make Umbraco projects, it's like helper library and some ready for use functionality. I like Hybrid Framework and Archetype is great. But for each project you will decide by youself what framework to choose. Because you don't need all these functionality on simple project.

    Should I have one Umbraco installation and set up clients as different websites in the same installation or multiple installations? -- You need multiple installations, one Umbraco - one project(but it can be few sites)

    Wordpress has lots of flexible templates built for developers/designers, does Umbraco have anything similar? -- Some services like that provide such templates :

    It seems to me Umbraco is mainly used by corporates. Is is feasible to use it and turn over sites with additional functionality quickly without all the plugins that wordpress has to offer? -- Yes, it's reasonable to use Umbraco. For plugins look at

    Thanks, Alex

  • mike 90 posts 258 karma points
    Mar 24, 2015 @ 00:25

    I am using the hybrid as a reference to make my own framework.  This is what is taking so long.  It is fun but very work intensive getting started.

    Like I said in my original post, the projects section does not allow reviews so it's hard to know what to use.  I have been reading several blogs though and trying to pick things up but I think word of mouth seems to be how info gets around.  I am paying attention to twitter which is showing some information.

    I don't think you can compare umbraco plugins to wordpress.  Only a few I have tried have worked hassle free and some do not provide full source code so I won't touch them.  The starter kit concept is great but there aren't many options. I will buy a couple of those templates you linked me to to see how they compare. I have already made my own umbrao integration of the Porto theme already but need to do some additional work on it to configure build tasks.

    With wordpress in the past I set up several hundred websites for affiliate marketing.  I used a package that let me setup various pre-configured templates.  I could then assign certain data to be dynamic which allowed me to configure an install script. Then I could just run the script and populate/configure the entire site.  I could then also roll updates out from one central location and as all were same version it kept issues to a minimum.

    Using this technique for clients makes it real easy as you can have a very impressive site installed and configured in less than an hour, or even generate multiple sites.  I've been reading about usync and various projects like that but there are also various issues people are complaining about.  I can't find any simple information or recommendation on what combo of tools to use for least hassle.

    Same for things like managing multiple sites, rolling out updates and managing models.  Lots of bit's and pieces of info here and there but no solid structured outline.  

    I will no doubt eventually figure it all out through trial and error.  I am trying to write code in a re-usable way so I guess when I have done several sites I will naturally have my process worked out.  It would be nice though to make that process as short as possible.

  • John Perryn 71 posts 182 karma points
    Mar 25, 2015 @ 01:48
    John Perryn

    Hi Mike

    In my experience Umbraco is simultaneously fabulous and disappointing... I have been using and enjoying it for 2+ years now and I am largely untrained. The community support has been great. But I'm doing this for free, as a volunteer. I could not have made money doing it.

    Here are my issues:

    1. There is a high (knowledge) barrier to entry. This is not a place for beginners who expect a professional result in a "profitable" timescale. Even with a basic competence of Visual Studio there is .NET MVC and much else to assimilate in order to get beyond the basics
    2. The general lack of "plug and go" packages. I needed a calendar package for example and found a few but these were dated, incomplete, or not applicable. Wordpress has a dizzying array of calendar packages - upwards of 150, which, upon perusal, also did not match my requirements... so I built one based on a pre-existing umbraco package (which has since disappeared from the web). Yes, I understand why this is so and I eagerly watch those who are trying to add templating and other architectural frameworks, but they are a long time coming...
    3. Problems with versions, upgrades, compatibility, and just keeping up. Even small upgrades are manual, fragile, require special knowledge, and are devoid of automation
    4. Shortage of basic or quality documentation. I needed "big picture" overviews and also good (larger) examples to work from, There are example sites (starter kits) but Umbraco is quite large and .NET is larger, so as a beginner I am always playing catchup. Plus most of the starter sites are dated now
    5. Workarounds such as those needed to get basic autocomplete to be functional. These mean that before you develop a "profitable" environment to work in you need to build an intermediate environment such as route hijacking and others described in the Codegarden videos
    6. New directions vs compatibility. Most of my work was done in V4.7 and has been moved to V6.2 (I missed out on V5 :-) ). So I'm looking to move to V7 (and re-train my editors to use Belle...) but now I learn that the future is Angular+Meteor, which I applaud - it look great - but for me it begins another learning cycle whilst I'm still coming to grips with MVC
    7. Commercial extras that should (by now) have been incorporated into to core of the product (like FALM, MediaProtect, CMSimport, Courier and Contour) - each one erodes the "profitability"
    8. Examine and Lucene - messy, complex, unfocused or too focused especially over doctypes. They don't natively support indexing of media (PDFs) or Faceted Search which I need for shopping
    OK having had my gripe I still enjoy and have much faith in Umbraco and don't regret the choice. Wordpress and Joomlah are great for what they do but hard to build substantial or innovative things with and tend to converge on self-similar solutions. Other CMS that I have looked at were clunky or restrictive in other ways (eg WIX) whereas Umbraco remains uber flexible!
    All the best to those who are new on this pathway....
    John P


  • mike 90 posts 258 karma points
    Mar 25, 2015 @ 07:23

    Hi John,

    Thanks for an insightful reply.

    Before Umbraco I was making my custom projects from scratch and then just using wordpress for quickie solutions. I may have to go back to using wordpress for majority of small work and use Umbraco in more custom projects as it is a real time saver over the standard MVC boilerplate.  That gripes me though as I will have to spend some time using PHP or copy sites across into umbraco if a customer wants to build a lot of extra functionality.

    I am wondering about the advice given to have 1 umbraco installation per customer.  Lets say (conservatively) over a year you get 20 small catalogue site projects.  That's 20 installs you have to do and 20 installs extra to update any time a critical update happens!  As umbraco has no distributed update system (and a bumpy upgrade history) that seems difficult to scale and ineficient on data centre costs. 

    Why is it a bad idea to run multiple clients from the same installation?

    I've been reasearching it and so far all I can see is that if you have a lot of users then it can get quite slow as admin panel events are tied into their actions.  The thread that was reported in however had several thousand users which I would never even get close to. I have seen some discussions on SO with people claiming to have several thousand sites and hundreds of users running fast and efficiently on a single install.

    To me this makes more sense.  You do the work once to get it set up and then just add customers in with a few clicks.  You can have several pre-configured empty sites in there and then just copy whichever one you want for a new client.  Scripted installs would not have to do any environment or initial configuration.  Just some standard tasks through API.

    So lets say use case of a guy wanted a 5 page brochure site comes in. I could use a script that sets up empty site, user and host settings.  I then apply a template and add the content. If a site gets really popuar or wants to start doing a lot of custom work then I can export it to a fresh installation.

    I am of course saying this with 0 experience of doing it.  I imagine there are many pitfalls like upgrading and wiping out hundreds of companies sites at the same time.  The phone would definitely start ringing. Logically I think you would never upgrade unless its a security patch and doing each file manually.  Instead you would set up a seperate installation, upgrade that and then maybe migrate a few sites across to see if there are any issues so only small number of sites are effected.  Then just migrate the whole lot or upgrade original.  I suppose in this sort of setup I should have automated testing and profilers running to see if any sites or code are causing issues.

    I like the concept.  I am going to move in this direction and do some testing to see if it works. I have another client lined up after my current project ends so I am going to put them on same installation and see how it goes.  Sounds fun :)

    If anyone has any more advice I'd really appreciate it.

    PS. John, give angular a try.  I was the same as you. I read so many people bitching about angular online that it put me off getting into the admin panel custmization.  I started the free code pen course yesterday and its actually pretty cool.  

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