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Thursday, January 12, 2017 by vera

Why is it so important to upgrade your Umbraco installation? - and to keep upgrading it? Jim will tell - and hopefully convince - you why in this blog post. He’s got a top 3 which lists the most beneficial reasons for you + a handy comparison tool to show you what exactly you’re missing out on if you haven’t upgraded recently.  

Welcome to the fifth of Jim's Tips and Tricks. In this blog post I want to talk to you about why you should always consider to run your Umbraco installation on the latest version. Of course in some special situations there can be reasons not to, but in general, it is always best to run the latest version of Umbraco for various beneficial reasons. Which beneficial reasons? let me show you our Top 3:

1: New Features

New features are simply all the nice things we add to the Umbraco CMS to make it smarter and simpler for you to do your job. New Features are always seen in Major releases and often also in minor releases.

Examples of these new features are the “Health Check” and “Redirects” which we released in version 7.5. The Health Check feature gives you a simple overview of your site’s current setup status. If any issues are identified in your setup, the Health Check feature will tell you how to fix it - or do it for you. This helps you setup your site in the best possible way. Redirects makes it easier for you to keep your SEO rating by letting you redirect old URL’s to new ones in just a few clicks. Quite nifty if you want to transfer your hard earned SEO “value” to your new sites.

Read all about the new features in 7.5 right here.

2: Breaking Changes

Breaking Changes, as in “Breaking News”, could be upgrades to the Api, upgrades to the Automapper and the ImageProcessor and similar changes to built-in functions. So more precisely, it’s improvements to the core’s built-in functions to make sure they keep performing even better.  

3: Issues and Tasks

Issues and tasks are the bugs and problems that we (or the community) have discovered in previous versions. This could be all from changing the color of a button to fixing issues with the package installer. Thus, if anything is broken or not performing as it should, this is fixed and then released in a new upgrade. Issues and Tasks are often seen in patch releases.   

Basically, by upgrading you always get a more reliable and better performing site.

To see all of the changes made between versions, we have this very awesome comparison tool:

This tool makes it really clear what you’re missing out on if you haven’t upgraded recently.  

Why you need to take the big - or small - step to upgrade

What I usually hear from you guys when you have not yet upgraded versions is that the road to the newest version is too hard and difficult to walk. This is often related to your custom code or third party packages. This is totally understandable, but the consequences of not upgrading can be almost lethal… at least to your website 😉 . This, of course, is related to the security of your website. It is our job to make sure that the Umbraco CMS is as secure as possible and if any issues are discovered, we make sure to fix them. But for it to benefit you and your website, you have to “click the upgrade button” - regularly. My awesome colleague Sebastiaan has blogged about security on your Umbraco website right here.

Upgrading has become easier than ever before. Especially if you keep in mind to constantly upgrading your Umbraco installation. Because, as in almost everything in life, small steps are easier to take than big steps. It’s no secret that we keep moving forward making Umbraco better and better so if you decide to stand still, the gab will only become bigger. And remember, by upgrading you gain so much - for free! So even though the big step might seem immense and might require a lot of time and recourses, we do encourage you to take it - and then make sure to upgrade regularly. We promise you it’ll be worth it.

You can find the official upgrade guide and documentation on the community site.

And if you should encounter issues when upgrading, please have a look at Sebastiaan’s very useful documentation to help you in the process. If you need more help, and got yourself a support plan, then you’re always welcome to contact us and we’ll be ready to guide you through the upgrade.    

 

To sum up, make sure to stay updated and you’ll always have the most reliable, secure and best performing website. This week we released Umbraco 7.5.7  - fresh and ready for you to download now. Enjoy 😉.

All the best,

Jim, Friend Maker, Umbraco HQ Support team 

 

PS. I’m having a break from Jim’s Tips and Tricks but will be back to guide you through aspects and functions in Umbraco CMS later this year.

If you have any suggestions to things in Umbraco that you’d like me to guide you through then please drop a comment below and perhaps I'll deal with this in my next Tips and Tricks 🙂  👍  

Monday, January 9, 2017 by vera

An Umbraco CMS and Umbraco Cloud case story by: WebVizion

Chateau de Fontaineis a State of the art Stud Farm breeding the best horses in the world. Luxury, quality and elegance eccos throughout the business and are of course characteristics which should be reflected on their website. Chateau de Fontaine wanted a solution that could give them an elegant, custom made, logical and reliable website. A solution produced and designed by WebVizion using Umbraco CMS and Umbraco Cloud.

 

What we were challenged to solve

Chateau de Fontaine were looking for someone who could help them showcase their state of the art facilities, equipment and horses online. They knew that the visual presence would be vital. Through the visual presence on the website, Chateau de Fontaine wanted to clearly reflect the culture, quality, elegance, high-class and exclusiveness of the business.

 

Part of the quality of the site should also lie in the user experience. Thus, the website's structure and layout should be simple and logical and make it easy for the customers to find relevant information. The website also needed to be responsive in order to work well on tablets and smartphones.

Another request was that the maintenance of the websites should be hassle free and thus, a simple and logical backend structure was required in order for Chateau de Fontaine to make any necessary content updates.

How we solved it

We did it like everybody should build world class websites - by using Umbraco. In this case the Chateau de Fontaine came with the design, beautiful Hi Res pictures and the HTML. As an Umbraco expert, we, WebVizion, implemented all features and the design in Umbraco – pixel perfect, responsive and well structures. For us that’s what it is all about!

 

 

How it works  

The site is built on Umbraco v.7.5.4. We’ve used Vorto plugin for language translation and we’ve created many custom data types. We have followed the standard pattern to develop this Umbraco site; we have created document types, templates, and pages. We have also created a separate code repository for custom controllers.

Most difficult task with Umbraco CMS is version upgrading. But by hosting the website on Umbraco Cloud, this problem was quickly solved due to Umbraco Cloud auto upgrade.

Also, Umbraco Cloud makes life much easier for us when working with multiple working environments like dev and live. Now we can work and test on the dev environment and then deploy our changes to live without any issues or worry.

Another great thing about using Umbraco Cloud is that it provides unlimited hosting which means that we had no problems when uploading Chateau de Fontaine’s beautiful re res pictures, keeping the visual presence at the high standard that the customer required. Umbraco Cloud is a platform that allows for a reliable website. A platform that also insures that the website is able to handle high peaks in visitors which Chateau de Fontaine experiences during special events and media coverage.

What we gained from it

The site has already been showcased on various “horse communities” and there is no doubt that this site sets completely new standards in the world of horses.

We wanted to set a new standard and we did.”, Bolette Wandt, Founder of Chateau de Fontaine  

Friday, January 6, 2017 by vera

Master. The word itself says it all; you’re officially the best of the best, a cut above the rest - and who wouldn’t want to be that? In November 2016 we introduced a new point system for Umbraco certifications along with new certification titles. And by doing so, we made it possible for you to earn the right to call yourself a master - an Umbraco Certified Master, to be exact. But what does it take to become a master and what do you actually gain by having the title? Find all the answers right here:

How to become, simply the best

How? You need to pass the full suite of available Umbraco certification courses. This means that you’re one of the hardcore Umbracians who’s invested in learning all levels of Umbraco and keep yourself up to date on new official Umbraco courses.

Unlike our two other Umbraco Certification titles: Umbraco Certified Professional (100 certification points) and Umbraco Certified Expert (200 certification points), the Umbraco Certified Master title has no set limit when it comes to the required number of certification points, because, as mentioned, you have to have the full suite of available Umbraco certification courses - at any point in time.  

Right now we offer 4 official training courses:

  • Umbraco Fundamentals
  • Extending the Umbraco Backoffice
  • Umbraco, MVC and Visual Studio
  • Umbraco application integration 

What happens to your master title when a new training courses is added?

If you’ve read the paragraph above, you might already know the answer to this question; in order to be able to call yourself an Umbraco Certified Master, you need to have passed the full available suite of Umbraco training courses. Thus, if you choose not to invest in the new course, you’ll lose your master title.  

You might think that sucks if you’ve just invested in all four courses simply to get the master title. But that’s the terms we stick to in order for the master title to keep its value throughout time. To be a cut above the rest you have to want to keep yourself on top. And as stated on Umbraco.com: 

[Umbraco Certified Master is] A final step that may not be for everyone - only the truly hardcore Umbracians.” 


Another thing you might have noticed on our website is this:

"Search and taxonomy - coming soon, 1 day course, 50 certification points."

Yes, this is a new course that will be introduced in 2017. Search and taxonomy is planned to be available in the UK in the first half of 2017 and globally in the second half - no exact dates are official yet, but we’ll make sure to keep you posted as soon as we know.

When official, it will take you all 5 courses to earn yourself the master title or the 1 if you’re currently a master. And if you’re currently a master enjoying your title and really want to keep it, there’s no need to rush or worry; We give you 6 months from the first day that the new course is available to upgrade your Umbraco skills before your title drops to Umbraco Certified Expert. And remember, you can get your master status back at any given time as long as you upgrade and thus, have passed the full available suite of courses. It’s up to you. 

How often are new courses added?

Let’s look at our course history: For the first 8 years (2007-2015) we had 2 courses: Level 1 + Level 2. Then in late 2015 we accounced that we would split the Level 2 course into 2: Asp.net Mvc Course and Extending the backoffice. About 6 months later we added another course: Umbraco application integration. And finally, we are rolling out a new course in 2017: Search and taxonomy.

We do not have any plans to add more courses in 2017. 2018? Possibly - we can’t look into the future but we certainly hope that things keep moving forwards making it possible to discover and learn new things in Umbraco.

Top 4 reasons why you should invest in becoming one of the best:

Now you know what it takes - but why should you invest in becoming (or staying) an Umbraco Certified Master? There are many great reasons and benefits of calling yourself an Umbraco Certified Master. Reasons that goes far beyond an awesome title. Benefits that are both professional and personal. To make it more comprehensible, we have boiled it down to 4 main reasons:  

  1. You are a one man Umbraco army
    You have the full suite - you do indeed know Umbraco! You know the full product, both in regards to implementation, UI and extending it. And you know how best to do it. This makes it possible to command an “architectural role” in a Umbraco project. You can create anything and you are able to suggest new ways of doing things, smarter and simpler. Basically, knowing it all makes it simpler and more fun for you to do your job.
      
  2. You save time and money (and worry) on your projects
    By knowing best practises in all aspects of Umbraco you have acquired the full skillset to set up a project correctly and efficiently, saving you time by getting it right the first time around. Saved time is saved money. But saved time can also mean that you’re able to go the extra mile for your customers - suggest ideas they haven’t even thought of and make them happen. It might not take you much effort but will put a big grateful smile on their faces and they’ll come back or tell their friends.    
       
  3. You have the highest possible Umbraco skillset guarantee
    You might already see yourself as an Umbraco master even without all the courses. But before you’ve taken the full suite, we, Umbraco HQ, simply can’t give that guarantee. Thus, the master stamp is exactly that; a guarantee that you’ve required all official available Umbraco skills. A guarantee of the highest rank for you to give to your customers, your employer, the market and even yourself.

  4. You can proudly call yourself an Umbraco Certified Master
    Don’t just give yourself a pad on the back, go ahead and brag loudly about your master title! It truly is an achievement and something that makes you stand out. Don’t know how exactly? Look at the 3 reasons above and you’ll know what the master title includes. The title also says that you’re a devoted Umbraco developer - you know your stuff and you want to invest in the best Umbraco knowledge out there. And finally, you have earned the right to use the Umbraco Certified Master logo and you can link directly to your profile on Umbraco.com where your master title along with all your Umbraco skills is clearly stated for everyone to see.

 

In 2016 we were very honoured to see that more and more people decided to invest in the full suite of courses in order to gain top Umbraco skills and the title; Umbraco Certified Master. It shows that you understand the value of getting certified and that you want to stay updated. You’re hungry and you want to stand out in the market - H5YR!


Want to join this exclusive group of Umbraco masters? Book your needed courses now and start enjoying the many benefits of, officially, being the best.

 

Tuesday, December 27, 2016 by Martin Larsen

Before 2016 turns into 2017, Jim’s got one more tip for you. This time it’s all about how to manage multiple sites within one Umbraco installation - successfully! If you want (or have) a site that handles multiple languages, this read will definitely be worth your time:

Welcome to the fourth of Jim's Tips and Tricks. In this blog post I want to talk to you about how Umbraco CMS is perfect when you want to set up a multilingual website. But also a little about best practises and how we would advise you to work with multiple sites in the same installation in order for it to run as smoothly as possible. For this I will describe two different scenarios for you:

1. Multiple sites in one Umbraco installation

When will it actually make sense to run more than one website in a single Umbraco installation? We think that it makes sense when the websites can actually share the same structure, and by that I mean templates, document types etc. In short, this means that all of the sites are build on the same foundation but can have different site structure, styles and content. Each site has its own root node, but is built using the same building blocks. If you have an Umbraco TV supscription and want to learn more about this, I will strongly suggest this umbraco.tv chapter that describes the entire procedure: http://umbraco.tv/videos/umbraco-v7/implementor/multi-lingual/creating-a-multi-lingual-site/introduction/

2. One installation - multiple languages.
The second scenario is one where I also think it makes perfect sense to have multiple websites within the same installation; when you wish to have translated versions of the same site. You have, say, a 1:1 structure in regard to styles, structure, content etc - everything looks and works the same but the languages are different from site to site. To achieve this I can strongly suggest you to have a look at this awesome package called Vorto, developed by MVP, Matt Brailsford. As he writes, and I agree; “Ultimately, it's THE property editor for doing 1:1 translations in Umbraco.”. Download or learn more about the package right here: https://our.umbraco.org/projects/backoffice-extensions/vorto/

You now know best practises and where I think it makes sense to run more than one website in a single Umbraco installation.

Now to the bad practise or the what-not-to-do; from our experience, we don’t think that you will gain anything positive from having multiple websites in the same installation if the websites do not share the same foundation i.e. templates and document types. It will only generate frustrated editors. Your editors might end up confused over the selection of templates and use “wrong” document types and templates when creating content. Which then might end up leaving your site a bit messy.

Basically, it is very individual how you guys choose to build your projects. But if you want to run multiple sites within the same Umbraco installation and want them all to run as smoothly as possible, then they need to shared the same building blocks. This is best practise and I promise you, it will make your job easier and put a smile on your editor’s face :)

That’s it from me for 2016; 4 tips in total to show you various features and shortcuts to make your experience with Umbraco more delightful :) :

  1. How to update your Credit Card information
  2. How to manage your licenses for Umbraco Forms and Umbraco Courier correctly
  3. Guide to your profile options - where to find what
  4. How to best handle multiple sites within the same Umbraco installation - This one ;)

But don’t worry - next year, I’ll be back ;)

Happy holidays!

-Jim :)

Ps. Just so you don’t lose out - have you remembered to take advantage of our special offer on support ? It expires on the 31/12 so hurry up if you want to get 20% off support for the entire 2017. That’s a 840€ saving and a lifeline directly to Umbraco HQ.

Get the offer now by using this link: Special Christmas Support offer

christmas-jim

Thursday, December 22, 2016 by vera

The release of Courier version 3 is all about performance, stability and reliability. Think of it like your bicycle courier being given the latest Google Maps data, complete with real-time traffic information and a faster bicycle to get your data from A to B. We have given Courier a huge code review and makeover along with tons of performance optimisations and a suite of unit tests to make it more reliable and dependable when transferring your precious work to market. For the past 6 weeks, all Umbraco Cloud projects have been running on the new version through automatic upgrades, while current Courier 2 users will need to manually upgrade. Read all about the performance improvements below:

The primary focus of this release is performance. Performance has been dramatically improved in multiple places in the Courier Core, most notably in:

  • Database queries and session handling
  • Serialization/Deserialization
  • Graph creation and processing
  • Memory optimizations
  • Reduction of http requests during deployments

In short, we've updated all of the important core parts of Courier to make them perform better.

New deployment logic = better and faster performance.

This release also has many stabilization fixes. Prior to Courier v3, a lot of the deployment logic for various entities were not shared. For example, the logic to transfer document types and media types was completely separate even though these entities are nearly identical. This meant that while updating the codebase, several inconsistencies were found that could lead to deployment issues. In Courier v3, the deployment logic is shared for all similar entities. This means that former inconsistencies and issues are now automatically fixed during deployment which have improved performance significantly:

Some examples of performance improvements are:

  • Previously, in Courier 2, a test site of approximately 4500 content nodes and 600 media nodes would take 2.5 hours to perform a local restore. Now, with Courier v3, it only takes approximately 10 minutes

  • Previously, in Courier 2, a test site of approximately 1800 content nodes and 2200 media nodes would take 2 hours to transfer to a different environment. With Courier v3 it now takes just around 7 minutes.

Basically, with Courier v3, you can get more than 1 hour and 45 minutes to spend on something else. Why not build a new feature for your website, submit a pull-request, roast a small turkey or watch a film? ;)  

57 issues resolved

Additionally, Courier v3 comes with many bug fixes regarding deployments which should see previous issues such as not all elements successfully deploying thus, requiring manual correction, now deploying correctly and automatically.

So far, in total, 57 issues and bugs have been resolved for Courier v3. Take a look at the long list of resolved issues right here.

 

Introducing Courier Contrib - Your Courier Resolvers Library

Together with the release of a faster and more reliable Courier v3 we also welcome a new addition to the Courier family called: Umbraco Courier Contrib.

One of the most important things Courier does is it makes sure that Umbraco nodes with different Id values get linked up between environments. For example: if you try to transfer content between your staging and your live site which has a content picker then it could be that the content you picked on staging has the Id 1089 but on the live site that same content item might get the Id 2053. Courier knows how to make sure that the picked item on live is the same item you picked on staging so that when you click that link on live, it actually goes to the correct page.

Of course when we build Courier we can’t magically guess what property editors people will create for Umbraco. Over the past few years we’ve seen the emergence of Nested Content, LeBlender, Vorto and others. These property editors all store Umbraco Node Ids in different ways which are not supported by Courier out of the box. The solution for that is that package developers can create Courier Data Resolvers to make sure that the translation of Ids between environments happens correctly.

This is where Courier Contrib comes in. We’ve been gathering the resolvers made in the community into a centralized library that everybody can use. Not only have we put them together, they’ve also been code reviewed and updated to make sure they work as efficiently as possible. The code is also heavily commented so package developers can get a better understanding of what they need to do to add to this open source library.

Currently all new sites on Umbraco Cloud automatically get this library in their website and it will be kept up to date with automatic upgrades. Of course this library also works on stand-alone Courier installs.


To sum up, Courier v3 is faster and more reliable, simply because it’s built smarter and has been given a thorough tidy-up. With Courier v3, deployment becomes a quick, enjoyable and worry-free task for you.

Want to start making deployment a breeze - buy Courier hereupdate your Courier 2 or get yourself on Umbraco Cloud where everything is upgraded and handled for you automatically. Easy-breezy.