ASP.NET Open Source CMS Review

Posted on 23 May 2009 • BlogOpen SourceTechnology

opensource-logoToday I’m looking at ASP.NET open source Content Management Systems (CMS) solutions. I’ve been working in the PHP world for a while, but have a new project which might need a different approach. My reviews are limited to software I can find easily using a Google search, and they must have either a self-hosting or opensourcecms.com online demo. See also Microsoft’s starter kits and community programs page.

These reviews are by no means comprehensive, and very subjective, mainly looking at how things work from the perspective of the content folks. Once I’ve found the best of the bunch, I’ll need to get a Microsoft tech friend to kick about under the hood to see how rational and well-commented all the code is.

Also need to review paid apps — AxCMS, Community Server (used for Myspace), Kentico, and Traction TeamPage. Also, look into supporting desktop app using Windows Live Writer.

asp-net-logoOverall

A few overall issues with asp.net

  • ratings — from 0 of 10 for totally crap, to 10 of 10 for excellent. WordPress is an 9 of 10, and all are less than that.
  • windows only — with only one platform supported, what about Mac, Linux and Unix developers?
  • page loads — seems that clicking on a link always does really slow page reload
  • log off — why is it always log off, which sounds a bit like the British bog off, rather than log out?
  • html editor — why are they all hand-coding crappy editors when they could just use TinyMCE?

That’s it for the overall issues list, now onto the CMS reviews

Blog & Portal CMS — the best!

These are the ones I found had the best features with the most potential to grow.

Blogengine.Net Admin ScreenBlog Engine .NET

  • Rating — 6 of 10
  • Website — dotnetblogengine.net
  • Type — community-led blog cms
  • Cost — free
  • Demo — aspx.opensourcecms.com/…
  • Search 422,000 results — google.com/…
  • Main Features — blog posts, stand-alone pages, web 2.0, widgets, comments, syndication, search, themes, extensions, html editor
  • Extras — social bookmarks, OpenSearch support, XFN tags, AJAX, FOAF, SIOC, APML, Gravatars, coComments, tag cloud, Google sitemap, referer stats, widgets, comments, rss, atom, pings, technorati, feedburner, ping-o-matic, advanced search, stand-alone pages, multi-author, xhtml

Excellent product website and what looks like an active community taking on the WordPress dominated world of Blog CMS’s. Especially like that they have a structure for Themes and Extensions (plugins), plus support for most of the social networking and syndication services. Includes a good HTML editor but lacks the media integration of WordPress. Support for categories but not tags. Excellent editor for site settings, referrers, pingbacks, etc. Has users and groups, but seems to be limited to Administrators and Editors only. Has front-end editor controls.

Overall this looks like just about the best asp.net CMS I’ve found. Not quite up to WordPress standard, but is headed firmly in the right direction.

clubsiteMicrosoft Club Site Starter Kit

Looks like fairly comprehensive code base for developing a variety of websites. Controls are all embedded in the pages, but can’t seem to locate a site/global configuration option. HTML editor is there, but doesn’t always load. The various modules seem well thought-out and implemented. Interesting, but all a bit patchy, with pages loading a wee bit slowly. See also other Microsoft Starter Kits: Small Business, My Web Pages, Extended Club Web Site, Codeplex Club Web Site, Time Tracker, Job Site, Paypal. See also My Web Pages demo.

dasblogDasBlog

Fairly good website and what appears to be active community. Ok interface and good HTML editor, but seems to be single user only and no support for pages.

dotnetnukeDotNetNuke

  • Rating — 4 of 10
  • Website — dotnetnuke.com
  • Type — company-led (USA) portal cms
  • Cost — community edition free / professional edition paid (ask for quote!)
  • Demo — aspx.opensourcecms.com/…
  • Search 1,810,000 results — google.com/…
  • Main Features — extensions, themes, localisation, global settings, users, groups, skins,
  • Extras — drag-and-drop interface, captcha

I believe this one is the biggest asp.net cms. Very slick website with tutorials. Looks like very full-featured CMS with interesting feature set. Main reason for low rating is it was incredibly slow to load pages on both front and back end on demo and project website.

idconstructorID Constructor CMS

Nicely designed product website but very much company not community looking. Windows OS-like interface with floating-windows. Seems very comprehensive and worth a look, though I found it a bit windows-like for my personal tastes.

mojoportalMojoPortal

  • Rating — 4 of 10
  • Website — mojoportal.com
  • Type — company-led portal cms
  • Cost — free / paid
  • Demo — aspx.opensourcecms.com/…
  • Search 76,500 results — google.com/…
  • Main Features — modules, blog, commerce, news
  • Extras — gravatar, open-id login, googlemaps, seo page settings

Very slick project/company website and seems to have won PACKT runner-up award. Page controls built into front end, with Admin menu to access the rest. Really didn’t feel at home with this one, and pages in both front and back end loading a wee bit slowly.

dotnetportal.Net Portal

  • Rating — 5 of 10
  • Website — dotnet-portal.net
  • Type — community-led portal cms
  • Cost — free
  • Demo — aspx.opensourcecms.com/…
  • Search 5,740,000 resultsunrelatedgoogle.com/…
  • Main Features — modules, themes, users, groups
  • Extras — multi-content pages, inline controls, html editor

Ugly but useful product website. Fairly comprehensive CMS and very nice page-based container system allow different module types on page. Found the layout/design of the cms a bit confused, but the technology underneath seems solid. Many module types and very zippy. Worth a further look.

n2cmsN2CMS

  • Rating — 5 of 10
  • Website — n2cms.com
  • Type — community-led portal cms
  • Cost — free
  • Demo — aspx.opensourcecms.com/…
  • Search 4,080 results — google.com/…
  • Main Features — html editor, themes, extensions
  • Extras — seo, permissions, page revisions, referers, loads more.

Fairly good product website with what appears to be a smallish community. Interesting rather simplistic interface with icon strip across the top accessing functions. Pages include lots of options including SEO, versioning, publish to/from dates, template selection and page revisions. Has nodes tree interface with root, then users, start page, etc. Well worth a look, but a bit odd on the back-end side of life. One big advantage is it’s very zippy indeed.

presstopiablogPressTopia

Simple easy-to-use project website with what looks like moderate sized community around a single-developer application. The blog engine looks  basic with no pages, but is quite zippy with simple layout and good configuration settings. Appears to be missing some key features like rss and groups. See also presstopia.com for Shop demo.

subtextSub Text

Fairly good project site with what appears to be small community. Like that it has OpenID login and is fairly comprehensive as Blog platform, including themes, but missing a few key features such as pages. Pretty zippy to load but just a bit simplistic in places, with may things seeming to be hard coded with little control over what appears where.

umbracoUmbraco

  • Rating — 5 of 10 (provisional!)
  • Website — umbraco.org
  • Type — company-led (Danish) portal cms
  • Cost — paid Umbraco Pro + 1 year support €3,000 / $4,300. Umbraco Pro + 3 months support 1,500 / $2,200. Umbraco Pro €800 / $1,150. Umbraco Pro Server License €4,000 / $5,800.
  • Demo — no demo, but see video hartvig.com/…
  • Search 162,000 results — google.com/…
  • Main Features — BLAH
  • Extras — BLAH

Now I couldn’t find a demo for this, which is a shame as there is an excellent company/product website with all the bells and whistles including video tutorials. This review is based on watching the video not actual use. Looks to be very comprehensive, but does seem a bit techie on the back-end. Lots of things you can do tech-wise, but seems much more about engineering a website and not just managing the content. Now, if only they’d release a demo…

That’s it for the best, now all the rest


Portal & Blog CMS — all the rest!

Below are are all the rest of the asp.net CMS’s which I either tested and couldn’t figure, just plain didn’t like or couldn’t find a way to test drive a demo. See aspx.opensourcecms.com to give some of them a test drive.

Basic CMS

  • Rating — 1 of 10
  • Website — basic-cms.com
  • Type — free blog cms
  • Search 26,900 results — google.com/…
  • Features — looks very basic to me.

Hydrogen CMS

  • Rating — 0 of 10
  • Website — hydrogencms.net
  • Type — frees ingle-user led cms
  • Search 450 results — google.com/…
  • Features — seems rather small and incomplete. Basically couldn’t even get the demo to work for me.

IfNuke

  • Rating — 0 of 10
  • Website — ifsoft.net
  • Type — free company-led (Chinese?) portal cms
  • Search 1,160 results — google.com/…
  • Features — quite ugly and incomplete company/product site. Seems a very ugly and rough cms.

JMD CMS

  • Rating — 0 of 10
  • Website — jmdcms.com
  • Type — free company-led cms
  • Search 1,510 results — google.com/…
  • Features — ugly website with very basic and rather ugly cms.

Nickel & Dime CMS (ndcms)

  • Rating — 1 of 10
  • Website — ndcms-net.sourceforge.net
  • Type — free community-led portal cms
  • Search 4,030 results — google.com/…
  • Features — looks a wee bit on the basic side, but may be worth a closer look for techies.

Nolior EZNews

Novella

  • Rating — 2 of 10
  • Website — devmade.com/novella
  • Type — free single-user-led blog cms
  • Search 58,100 results — google.com/…
  • Features — interesting but a bit on the odd side. Super-zen approach to pages only site management which I didn’t really get.

Rainbow Portal

  • Rating — 0 of 10
  • Website — rainbowportal.net
  • Type — free community-led blog cms
  • Search 1,090,000 results — google.com/…
  • Features — rather ugly project website, but does seem to be a fairly large community.

sharpcms

  • Rating — 1 of 10
  • Website — sharpcms.org
  • Type — free community-led (German) pages and blog cms
  • Search 5,490 results — google.com/…
  • Features — very simple to use project site which looks relatively active. Way too basic for a large site but might be good for simple stuff.

The Beer House

Tih Blog Compact

TriptychBlog

  • Rating — 2 of 10
  • Website — triptychstudios.net/triptychblog
  • Type — free company-led blog cms
  • Search 2,660 results — google.com/…
  • Features — nice looking site, but very little content. Simple blog only with no pages, but on the right track.

Web Community

  • Rating — 0 of 10
  • Website — blazeapps.com
  • Type — free company-led  (USA) portal cms
  • Search 978 results — google.com/…
  • Features — way ugly company/product site. Looks like everything is rather hard coded with not a drop of designer’s time used.

That’s it for this post, now me know what you think about it all.

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