By:Simonas Mikulenas Posted On: Topic:Engineering

Introducing Better CMS 2.0

It has been a long time since my last update on Better CMS. I am very glad announce the Better CMS 2.0 update. It introduces not only visual updates but also new features. In addition, we've decided to update the license agreement from custom to LGPL.

Open source

Until now, Better CMS was licensed with the Better CMS License Agreement and believe it or not, I received a lot of questions regarding this. The main concerns are usually if the product can be used for commercial use and if it can be modified. We always believed that Better CMS should be an open source product, and we don’t see a problem in commercial usage or modification. Today, I can announce that with the Better CMS 2.0 update we switched the Better CMS 2.0 to the Lesser General Public License v3 (LGPL-3.0) license.

LGPL-3.0 is a free software license published by Free Software Foundation, and it is not a strong copyleft license. So, Better CMS is allowed to be used and integrated into custom (even proprietary) software. Additionally, it can be modified, but the source code needs to be publicly accessible. Detailed license text can be found here.

Contributions are welcome

Have you ever thought that Better CMS is missing a cool feature? Or maybe you found some issue that bugs you every time. If so, we would like to hear about it - let’s make Better CMS even better.

You can contribute on Better CMS by registering the issue in our issue tracker on GitHub. Additionally, if you feel pretty confident that you can fix a bug or even implement a new feature from the backlog, pull requests are welcome.

Fo ra smoother way to contribute, you need to know a little bit about our "kitchen”.

Similar issues in the backlog are grouped into milestones that can be treated as the epics (except the Purgatory milestone – it is dedicated for the QA process). There is no priority for milestones or issues, so if you would like to participate, just grab the one you think is most important and relevant to you.

If an issue is labeled as "Ready" or "InProgress", this means that it will be or already is being addressed by the Better CMS team. If an issue is labeled as "Fixed", it was addressed and is waiting for QA person to verify the fix.

For the better status overview, check the board.

New features and new look

With Better CMS 2.0, we've done much more than having just changed the license. Here is a rundown of the new features and the totally new look.

Updated design overview

Better CMS now has updated UI and UX for the control panel. A new style was applied for content editing, blog posting and the page structure manager. We've optimized the layout for page creation and page properties managing. You can take a look at these and many other changes at our demo website.

Markdown support for content and blog posts

Have you ever wondered how to separate content meaning from the style? I think that the best way would be to use a markdown - a lightweight markup language with plain text formatting syntax, just like GitHub comments. BetterCMS supports it.

This feature enables easier content migration from other CMSes to Better CMS. Additionally, we've added simple text content type if your website design requires the forbidding of the content editor inputting HTML stuff.

Disqus Widget + updated blog post edit dialog

By default, Better CMS contains a widget for comments – we've added the Disqus widget for easy integration. Just provide a couple of configuration options and your page will contain comments.

Templates + Master Pages merge

From the very first version of Better CMS, we had page templates (server-side MVC view) that were created by the developers for the end user. Later, we introduced the powerful concept of creating page templates on a live website, and we called it "Master Pages". This page layout  creation approach almost eliminated templates, because nearly all of our users started to use one blank server-side template. All the other layouts were created using the CMS tools. We took this trend into account when we merged Templates and Master Pages to one list. It's simply called "Templates" now. If for whatever reason you will need to have a server-side generated page template, you can still register it; the functionality was not removed.

Sitemaps renamed to "Menus"

One more UI update regarding renaming – we changed "Sitemaps" to "Menus", as they almost always are used to generate menus. For developers, we did not changed the API, so it's still called "sitemaps" in the code.

Categories tree

Better CMS has supported content categorizations since the beginning. A little bit later we introduced multiple lists of categories that can be dedicated for use only for pages or blogs. After that, we updated categories to be a hierarchical list, to have even more power for content structuring and grouping. In version 2.0, we updated the way categories are edited.

Widget options with translations

With Better CMS, we've tried to make multilingual websites easy. We've added the ability to link pages together if they contain the same content in different languages. Additionally, we added the ability to translate menus (a.k.a. sitemaps). In version 1.11, we introduced multiple languages to widget options. With this feature, the same widget (with the same structure) can have different content when it will be placed on a page with a different language.

History preview improved

Better CMS has content history features - to review and revert previous changes. Until now, we hadn't improved upon these features. Starting with Better CMS 2.0, in content history, the user will be able to review all of the properties that were stored as a history item. Now it's easy to find, copy and paste with only a small change from all the history items.

Better “Insert widget” UX / recent widgets

In previous versions of Better CMS, we had a slider, which we thought was really cool. But we found that from a UX perspective it was totally useless, as some times users didn't even see that the slider exists. So we redesigned the widget selection dialog to be sleeker and UX-friendly. Starting with version 1.11, we've put recently used widgets at the top of the list.

What’s next?

Better CMS 2.0 is really cool, but I do not want to say that it's the last stop. Microsoft is working hard on the next cross-platform ASP.vNext, and if we want to have Better CMS going in step with the latest technologies, we need to move on, too.

If you found yourself interested in using Better CMS or even want to contribute to it – don't hesitate to contact us.

If you have some questions or you have a great idea for how Better CMS can be improved, please post it on our support forum or to the issue tracker on GitHub.

But, it's better to see once than to hear a hundred times, so please take a look at BetterCMS on our demo website and let us know what you think.


Simonas Mikulenas

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