Thursday, September 06, 2007

Umbraco: Why, God, why?

Will someone please tell me what's the deal with everyone raving about this CMS?

I've spent about 6 hours with it and already I want to claw my eyes out.

I'm using 3.0 RC1 (the "recommended" version), and it's chock full of bugs that make the interface unusable with Firefox, and, thanks to good coding practices, about 2 crossbrowser UI bugs. How long has it been since you've seen a "modal dialog window," the unresizable kind, where form elements are actually out of view? Apparently not long enough, for Umbraco.

After surrendering to the inevitable and firing up IE7, I began to -- slowly very slowly -- enjoy Umbraco. You know, some rough edges aside, it's an OK CMS.

And then I tried to embed an image into a template.

Oh, yeah. I knew the programming gods had a grudge against me when I tried to perform one of the most simple tasks for a CMS and it failed miserably. Quickly, Google to the rescue! All over the web you find this: "well, you'll have to write an XSLT to get the image url and output an img tag, and then you just create a macro to call the XSLT and presto!"

No, my friends, no fucking PRESTO here. This is a CMS, the whole purpose of using one is so I don't have to hard-code shit everywhere. For some reason they let you pick out "Media" (images, files, etc) as a valid property type, but don't provide access, in templates, for you to grab the various attributes of the property, like, oh, I don't know, THE GODDAMN URL.

Seriously, why are you going to give me the ID of a JPG. What the fuck am I supposed to do with that? Really, what? How did you get to version 3.0 of a software product and decide that yes, that was a really, really good idea.

How does a CMS make it to version 3.0 like that? I'd like to say, "magic," but fuck all if magic explains why when I try to move a content node, the pop-up dialog closes but the content tree doesn't refresh.

I'm staring down the barrel of goddamn-what-the-fuck, and its name is "Umbraco 3.0"

But wait, there's more! Just when I thought it couldn't get any stupider: you can't turn off debugging on production mode.

Yeah, you heard me write (write, get it?!), you can't turn of debugging. A helpful work around includes doing some URL-rewriting if the user tries to hit the debug url, claims some page some where that conveniently isn't on the main Umbraco site.

In other words, Umbraco sucks.

This is all without including a ton of minor bitches I have, including:
  • the fact that the Rich HTML editor doesn't fucking Rich HTML,
  • something I like to call, "The Mystery of the Disappearing Quotation Marks" inside of the template editor (which, ironically, also sucks),
  • and what I tentatively refer to as, "An Awful User Interface: Are You Prepared?" when visiting the "Member's" section of Umbraco
What's funny was, the wizard for installing and setting up Umbraco was pretty decent. It's unfortunate that the rest of the CMS isn't as polished.

link juice:


Anonymous said...

Thanks for the feedback - we're fully aware of the bugs with the UI in firefox which is legacy. A refactoring of the UI is scheduled for 3.1 and will ensure proper cross platform code (yes, no modals and no six-year old IE js).

I hear you with the image insertion in the template, if you add it to codeplex ( I'll ensure it'll be easier to fetch images in the template editor.

Just to clearify a couple of misunderstandings; you *can* indeed turn off debugging in v3 by setting the umbracoDebug setting in web.config to false (and yes, I agree it was awful that this was is missed in v2.x).

Hope this helps - we want to improve the cms with every version iteration and we (coreteam) actually listen feedback like this (even though I might add the tone is a bit harsh).

My last question - what do you mean by the Richtext editor isn't rich? We've build-in a couple of limitation to ensure that it'll output proper valid xhtml *strict* which adds certain limitations.

Keep the feedback coming, Sir ;-)

Niels / umbraco

Anonymous said...

(btw: The recommeded version is 3.0.2, which features loads of improvements from RC1)

Unknown said...

I hadn't realized there was a 3.0.2 -- everything I saw RE: documentation referred to 3.0 RC1, so that's what I downloaded and used.

As for the Rich HTML editor, it was buggy as hell -- I had to do some random clicking to make the it take focus so I could input text, and even then, saving the contents of it via the save button didn't work -- all I got was a fist-full of blank text as the end result.

FYI, I love the flying gold fish on your webpage.

Anonymous said...

The WYSIWYG editor in 3.0 final release is tinymce, which is much better than the default one in the RC.

When you upgrade (, umbraco will not change your WYSIWYG settings, so to activate tinyMCE (the new editor), you should do the following:
1) In umbraco, click the developer section (lower left corner)
2) Fold out "data types"
3) Click "Rich text editor"
4) In the render control dropdown choose tinyMCE and click save (the little disc icon in the toolbar)
5) Now you can customize the RTE functions, by checking which buttons you want (remember to save your settings)
6) Now you have a better cross-platform RTE experience.

Hope this helps!


Anonymous said...

Enjoyed your article - keep it up :) I do have to say I acknowledge there was a little pain getting my limited brain around this CMS, but after I worked on a few projects that used it, its now become a vital part of my toolbox. A big fan of this little app that continues to save me days not hours on projects.


Anonymous said...

And the oh so superior Web Content Management System that YOUR have developed that allows developers to do whatever the heck they want, and is provided entirely free to the entire world is available for download WHERE?

Unknown said...

Down and to the left, baby, down and to the left.

Anonymous said...

if you are a programmer, which cms system do you like/use? i started with umbraco some month ago, after changing from dnn which is truly horrible in managing content and coding of own controls. I must say umbraco rocks really.

Anonymous said...

Have to agree! I have just spent an afternoon trying to find simple documentation on how to create a simple website! NOTHING! NADA! Am going balder by the minute as I have a full website to build in it! It might be quicker writing my own CMS engine!

Silver Arrow said...

Yes it is hard to jump in but it is the very first time that I'm able to find something in the .net world that I can compare with Typo3 in its philosophy.
I'm not a php developer so I feel much comfortable with Umbraco even if it surely lacks a ton of functionalities compared to typo3.

I'm still awaiting for another free .net cms as powerfull as this one!

Anonymous said...

The problem I find with Umbraco is indeed the refusal for it to accept basic stuff when you need something quick and dirty and just get it done.

Umbraco can be like having to knit a dust cloth every time you dust. There just isn't time to hard code everything all the time, and there is no money to keep a developer on staff 24/7! ;)

Want to change something one step outside the most basic, OHHH, have to get a code pool together and sort out what to do.

It's like everytime we want the slightest thing changed (aside from images and text) we have to sit down with 12 people like we're writing a sitcom and talk about it.

In the past, poof it was done.

Sorry, had to vent...I know like anything there are drawbacks and advantages...but I find that terribly needy! ;)

Anonymous said...

And as for the gentlemen who was commenting to another person about "where is your free CMS system...etc., etc.,"

Yes Umbraco is free, but it's like giving away a free car with the breaks and gas switched around, and when you steer right it goes left, and to honk the horn you have to mill the copper wire, all while driving, along with the insulation, and then thread the wire to the horn.....

This CMS has some promise, but it should allow some basic stuff to be inserted when you want to work on the fly.

Anonymous said...

Umbraco is AWESOME... but does have it's quirks. If you don't like it, don't use it of course. But after learning how to use it right, I build every single site I make with it. I don't believe there is a more powerful open source CMS out there and it just keeps getting better and better.

Andrew said...

Like any software product - it either fits or it doesn't. We have been using umbraco actively for over three years, and have never had a situation which umbraco could not handle, and herein lies its power.

We have also previously developed sites using other CMS products, and all of them have since been replaced with Umbraco simply because the client was unable to easily manage his content. So sure, you have to sweat at bit in the beginning, but if that means my client does not bother me for the next year - then I am all for that.

On a final note, i have no problem with an expletive here and there, but I find it quite distressing that you cannot adequately express yourself without them

R Brill said...

I agree with Umbraco being very hard to get your head around as a beginner but I can also see how powerful it is as a 'developers' CMS.
I think if the UI had a 'visio' style window where you could link macros to templates by simply dragging and dropping - this would be powerful. The thing is, by the time I've opened a node and then opened a document type (for example) I've forgotten which xslt file I was originally working with and for someone who hasn't got Visual Studio this non-ability to open several documents at once via a web interface is a real pain and I'm pretty sure this could be integrated with modern Javascript.

Anonymous said...

What do you expect from a shitty product built on top of ASP.Nut(Net)? Open source and .Net go hand in hand like an OXYMORON...

Anonymous said...


I have settled on sticking with Umbraco after using Joomla, WordPress, a little bit of Drupal and a little bit of DNN...

I think it's great, although there are some things I think are a bit screwy about it. The images, template, xslt problem being one of them (still not great in v4).

I do feel that Umbraco has a great future though and I plan to stay with it :)

Helge Olav Helgsen said...

Good review. As a home user I find Umbraco to be my best option though some things are very hard to do. Like using XSLT for navigation.

With the latest release they now have Razor support that I need to look in to.

Anonymous said...

ah nostalgia I've worked with this CMS around the time you wrote this post and could conclude only the same. I decided to look up if anything changes, based on a quick code review on codeplex says no. Hope you were able to bann this piece of shit from your life by now =D

Anonymous said...

+1 UMBRACO is still terrible.

Unknown said...

Yes its Horrible, Version 7 has boatloads of "legacy" code. I think they miss a good and then I mean good software architect. The see it to much as a kind of playground.

Unknown said...

Yes its Horrible, Version 7 has boatloads of "legacy" code. I think they miss a good and then I mean good software architect. The see it to much as a kind of playground.

Anonymous said...

OMG my old boss made me use this garbage until I told him I'd redo his whole site in WordPress. It took me a month to figure out how to even CREATE A DAMN PAGE!! I had to go through hoops to create a template first, then I could create a page based on that template, but I clicked everywhere and couldn't even figure out where to do it... it took like 7 steps to create a page in Umbraco...

I don't understand how anyone thinks this CMS has promise, the creators should just scrap it and call it a day and admit that it's a POS!!!!!!!