Orchard 0.5 is out

(c) Bertrand Le Roy 2004 Before I joined Microsoft seven years ago, I had spent a couple of years building a Web CMS. It wasn’t open-source unfortunately but the experience convinced me that most public-facing web sites would shortly use some form of CMS. I also forged strong opinions about the right level of component granularity that a CMS must implement.

For the last year and a half, I have been fortunate enough to work with a talented small team within ASP.NET and with a growing community from all around the world on building a new Web CMS on top of ASP.NET MVC.

Today I am very happy to invite my readers to check out some of the results of that work: earlier this week, we released version 0.5 of Orchard.

We are far from being done, but this is an important milestone in a couple of ways.

First, the set of features that we implemented makes it reasonable to build some sites with Orchard.

Second, our developer story is now fairly complete. We have a reasonable and stable developer story that you can bet on today to build extensions (the UI story is not at this point yet and is what we’ll work on next). This means that from this point on, progress should begin to come more from the community than from our small team.

If we’ve done our jobs right, it should be loads of fun.

I just can’t wait to see the cool stuff that you’re going to build…

Orchard 0.5:



  • Very much looking forward to this, as I'm getting hammered with customers requesting the php stack CMS's, and I don't really wanna go there.
    Scott GU mentioned the razor view engine will be used for Orchard, can you comment on that?
    Furthermore, do you anticipate the capability for end users to edit the 'master-pages' (or whatever the templates are called) without an app restart (and the corresponding loss of sessions)?

  • Sure I can comment on that: yes.

    For your master page problem, I'm not sure what you mean, as far as I know, changing a page (master or otherwise) does not usually restart the app. Furthermore, you can configure session to be resilient to that and I would argue that any application should be designed to be resilient to restarts: they can happen for a variety of reasons.

  • When you put the blogging stuff in, your not going to copy Oxite right? Because Oxite was absolute crap.

  • Re: app restarts - if you had an app with users editing live master page files, the app always restarts when you save the .master file.

    I've read that you can allow 'dynamic' master pages by implementing the virtual path provider, but this also restarts the app when compiling changes, so no gain there (I have not verified this myself). I was hopeful the razor templating compilation might be able to get by without an app restart.

    Very good point about coding the app to survive app restarts. However, I'm imagining a case where app restarts could be frequent due to frequent live template edits. For example, say you had content editor for the main site skin, with a preview. Each edit and preview cycle would force an app restart. I'd guess that restart would tax the server quite a bit, and app restarts do seem to make the site unavailable for a certain period of time as well.

  • @Chris: yeah, first time I'm hearing this. I verified with one of the people who built the compilation in ASP.NET and it shouldn't be the case under normal circumstances: there shouldn't be a difference between master and normal pages and the compilation doesn't cause a restart until the 15th recompilation (by default, this can be increased through config). If you disagree, please send me a repro at bleroy at microsoft.

  • I'm wondering if I'm the only one, but what I am actually looking for is not a complete CMS or Blogging App, but more components that I could plug into my own exisiting app. Like, there is a View Component and maybe an Edit Component.
    Would that possible with Orchard?

  • Bertrand, one thing the team should consider is to write a step-by-step tutorial to give a idea of how Orchard can be customized. The developer story is gone and it might be a good opportunity to deliver such a document. The underlying tutorial would be aimed at developers of course, not lambda end users.

    What I am thinking of is to enrich the e-commerce step-by-step tutorial that Arnaud did a few months ago.

    To me it would be a "get-go", which is of high interest before diving deep into the core classes.

  • Great, I'll check it out!

  • Is there a sample website, where I can get an impression about what is possible with Orchard?

    (orchardproject.net says "Powered by screwturn wiki", not "powered by orchard")

  • This is great.

    For anyone looking for an ASP.NET CMS why not go check out mojoportal. It's stable, been around for a while now and has been proven.

    Umbraco is also a good choice.

    I am not discounting this project but I would like to remove this misconception that ASP.NET doesn't have any viable open source CMS platforms.

  • Thanks Bertrand for the links you provided. The updated step-by-step is worth reading.

  • @John: you are absolutely right.

  • Related to John's comment regarding other viable, ASP.NET open source CMS platforms: is there a reason why MS chose to create yet another CMS? I'm not at all clear on why MS decided against participating in one or more existing ASP.NET CMS projects. I'd think that it might make more sense to engage in a community-based project (similar to MS' recent decision to formally participate in JQuery) rather than building something new that, if successful, is likely to overshadow community-started projects.

    Was it a desire to build a CMS based on the MVC framwork (I think most viable frameworks seem to still be using standard ASP.NET Web Pages)? Or did MS look into supporting one of the existing MVC-based projects and simply decide it was feasible to create a new one? If so, why?


  • No, i'm serious. You have two of the guys who wrote Oxide on contributing to Orchard. Oxide was terrible. And one of the original roadmaps back when Orchard was first made publish stated that Oxide blogging would be integrated into Orchard. I want to make sure this DOESN'T happen because Oxide was terrible, and I seriously hope you actually sit down and spec out the blog functionality and write it properly and not try merge Oxides crappy codebase or functionality into Orchard.

  • @NC: well, it's "Oxite", not "Oxide". We are not merging the codebases. But again you are not being specific enough. When you say "crappy codebase or functionality" I can't know what specifically you are referring to and thus can't infer any action to be taken to address any real problems.
    Feel free to e-mail me your specific complaints at bleroy at microsoft.

  • Fair enough, Bertrand. Thanks for taking the time to offer a thorough reply!

  • @Roland: I think the right question is "compete for what?" What are the Umbraco folks after that is a limited resource and that we are also after?

  • @Kevin: you seem to be assuming this is a zero-sum game. I think this is very wrong. The REAL competition today for ASP.NET CMS is PHP. What we hope to achieve with Orchard is not to take a bite of the existing pie of ASP.NET developers. We have no interest in that. Our interest is to grow the pie. Add new people and attract some from PHP. DNN, Umbraco and the others are trying to do the same. Everybody in the .NET community benefits from that.
    Look at the PHP CMS market. There are three major actors there and a multitude of others. Why isn't there just one? Because there is more than one sort of people. Different people prefer different styles. Some people prefer the flexibility and smart architecture of Drupal, some prefer the ease with which you can enter and extend WordPress.
    I'm convinced what we're doing with Orchard is different in spirit and style from what Umbraco and DNN are doing and thus will appeal to different people. I know for a fact from the e-mail I receive that what we're doing is appealing to some in a way that no other CMS on the market does. That's not to say we're better, just filling a niche: many people are telling us they were looking for a .NET CMS but didn't think the existing ones were good fits for their projects.
    As for arguments of fairness, should Microsoft then stand there doing nothing while its market share erodes? You talk about monopoly but IIS has much lower market share than Apache, and Orchard market share is zero while Drupal, Joomla and WordPress (all PHP apps) share 90% of the CMS market.
    That the UI is "copied from WordPress" does not seem that obvious to me, but it is a fact that the WordPress admin UI works well. There are worse sources of inspiration. But you should take a look at AtomSite ;)
    Are Umbraco, Mojo, BlogEngine.NET and others complaining about Orchard?

  • I for one can validate Bertrand's claim. As an ISV, I was in the market for an open source CMS to ride atop our current product suite. Up until Orchard, there simply wasn't an offering that fit our architectural style in the Microsoft ecosystem. We were seriously considering something from the LAMP stack. Fortunately, we found Orchard a few months ago and are really happy with this project\CMS thus far.

  • There's no such thing as one best CMS and with just a handful of open source CMSes on the .NET stack there's plenty of room for another one - some might even claim a need. So on behalf of the Umbraco team I welcome Orchard.

    There's plenty we can learn from each other and while we might share mutual goals our methods and approaches are different. Just like the great diversity in the huge .NET community.

    This will benefit everyone. Umbraco and Orchard as well as the developers, web developers, web designers and others in the .NET community. As "vendors" we'll inspire each other and get motivated to do our best. As a community you'll all get more and better products to choose from.

    What's not to love?

    Niels Hartvig
    Founder, Umbraco

  • @Niels: you're the man! :)

    Actually, we haven't chatted in a while. How about a LiveMeeting one of these days? You know where to find me :)

  • Orchard looks very promising. I can't understand people complaining about having more choice. If you dint like Orchard choose something else, I think MS has learned from the mistakes made by Oxite and are doing a great job with Orchard.

    Keep up the good work I am looking forward to 1.0.

  • @Kevin I am so sorry, but I think you are just too closed-minded. Why can't you see Orchard as a healthy competition, rather than an evil marketing step that MS is trying to take? Furthermore, as mentioned, Orchard is not directly competing with the rest, it's just doing its own thing to offer another type of CMS that .Net developers might need.

    I've worked on a number of .Net CMS, and I must say none of them really suit my style, but I think Orchard is reall what I am looking for. I really hope Orchard can grow well in the future.

  • @wooncherk :

    Close-Minded? Not at all.. That's not my view on Orchard. All my bullet point statements were meant to answer one question:

    Will Orchard compete / "overshadow" other open-source projects on CodePlex?

    That's all.

    If you're LOOKING for a CMS(like many other people), then of-course having more options is great. Who would disagree on that? But again, that's not the question I was debating.

    - Kevin

  • @bertrand:
    Same thing.. I'm only trying to answer that one question as to the impact of Orchard on Open-source CMS Community projects!

    However... I will give microsoft due credit and also point out the various things that are helping MS in their Market share( listed below ).

    1. WebMatrix is a great way to cultivate open-source development on .NET. As an experienced c# developer and open-source developer, I was on seriously considering switching all my development work to ruby / scala, postgres/mysql and linux. With the combo of SQL Express, IIS Express, Visual Web Developer Express, the MS Stack is looking a lot better these past few years.

    2. C# Language Features, ASP.NET MVC / LINQ / Entity-Framework have been some of the best contributions from Microsoft in the past few years from a framework perspective. ( Even though almost everything has been copied from Python/Ruby, NHibernate, Rails ), excluding LINQ ( which rails has now copied in their latest Merb merge w/ rails 3.0 ).

    3. Channel9.msdn.com videos to help keep end-users a bit more in the loop as the new developments at microsoft as well as instructional videos that are there.

    4. C# on Linux. This has been another major factor to considering .NET as an alternative for other multi-platform solutions.( although I still believe it's going very slowly and not fully there ). Even though ASP.NET MVC can supposed run on linux, I've never tried myself.

    These things in themselves are promoting .NET / Windows platform as an alternative of the LAMP stack. Now if microsoft would only create a express edition of Windows!

    But I still stand by my words. If Orchard is successful, it will compete with and possibly very well overshadow all the open-source CMS community projects.


  • @Niels Hartvig

    Niels... please provide a more appropriate quote so I can actually take it seriously. I was quite amused :-)

    Before I continue, I'm well aware of Umbraco and let me say this with genuine sincerity...

    Congratulations on the success on Umbraco. It truly is a good product with good support and it's great to see open-source projects such as yours and several others succeed. I may be presuming, however, it could very well be a testament to the age old thought of pursuing your passion and obtaining success without actively wanting it. That could be a somewhat poetic definition of "open-source". And I'm no poet mind you. Not every project/every startup/every person could be so lucky, so you should be grateful as I hope you are. As per your little quote, there are many men and women who will never fear or back down from any obstacle, yet there may be many obstacles that can never be overcome.

    Again... for anyone just coming in. I'm answering one question:

    "Will orchard compete with and possible overshadow other open-source .NET CMS projects" ?

    Now... let me try my hand at some analytic reasoning.

    1. From your own website: "umbraco is an open source project with roots back to year 2000 even though it wasn't released as open source until 2004"
       So basically you've got a CMS system with a) 6+ year headstart on Orchard. b) you've got a core dev team of 7. c) Again several years to spend on building it up.
    2. I'm not that surprised Microsoft is a sponsor/supporter of your project( you've been helping the MS/.NET stack for the past 6+ years with your CMS before orchard ).
    3. Microsoft Orchard team has a total of 12(coordinator/devs) on the project. ( I'm sure that some of the coordinators are devs as well )
    4. The Microsoft Orchard team may work full time on the open-source project. ( In fact, I saw a paid job posting for Orchard on this site ).
    5. Many open-source projects are developed part-time by developers after their normal job or start off as a one man shop ( mojo-portal as an example ), and less so as a multi-member team working full time.
    6. It would take a VERY high degree of innovation / creativity / resources by a competing open-source .NET CMS project to overcome the physical man power, expertise, and resources of Microsoft and it's Orchard team.
    7. One open-source .NET cms team competing with another open-source .NET cms team may represent a more or less fair competition than one competing with microsoft/orchard team.
    Yet... you brazenly mention that if an open-source .NET CMS gets overshadowed by Orchard, it's because the open-source CMS isn't good enough? Can you honestly justify that statement given the facts above? If want to debate that one question, then please do so rationally. I'd like you see your dance moves now! :-)

    I suspect that you may not be receiving open and public feedback from the authors of "said .NET open-source CMS apps" because any public feedback contrary to supporting Orchard would only indicate possible weakness and/or concern for the continued development/success of their own product and would only help reduce an end-users confidence in it. For any author responding otherwise, their support may possibly indicate the reversal of the last statement ;-). I will continue to remain open-minded and will concede that orchard is healthy competition for open-source .net cms systems instead of possibly "overshadowing" them, if, not 1 but many of those authors genuinely support orchard.



  • @Kevin: you're moving the goal post.

  • I am very happy to see Orchard as I've been looking for a CMS, commercial or open source, that takes advantage of the best features of Azure.


  • @Kevin: Missed the conversation so this is just a follow up.

    I stand up to my previous points. Any project have a chance on the .NET platform, whether Microsft is competing or not.

    I believe there's room for more than a couple of CMSes on the Microsoft stack and Orchard is just one solution to many ways of doing CMS. There's no silverbullet.

    If you wanted to make an Orchard clone you're probably out of luck. Just as if you wanted to make an Umbraco clone. But we don't need clones. We need better and other ways to solve problems. Period.

    My lack of fear is based on empirical knowledge not random paranoia. To be a bit frank.


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