Altabel Group's Blog

Posts Tagged ‘ASP.Net

For almost 15 years ASP.NET has been one of the best web development technologies and many developers consider it to be the best offering from Microsoft. ASP.Net evolves to bring in better features and functionality, which helps businesses scale better. Each year developers see few new trends that enhances development and shortens the time-to-market the solution. Here we will discuss a few trends that will benefit both developers and businesses indulging in ASP.Net.

React

React.js is a JavaScript library for building user interfaces, built by top engineers at Facebook. Facebook’s dev team built React to solve one problem: building large applications with data that changes over time. React lets you express how your app should look at any given point, and can automatically manage all UI updates when your underlying data changes. React.js is declarative, which means that React conceptually hits the “refresh” button any time data changes, and knows to only update the changed parts. React was used in-house at Facebook before being released as an open-source project to the public, so you can be certain it knows how to handle an astronomical amount of data. React was created by Facebook in 2013, and then released as an open-source project. This means that Facebook’s developers solved React’s major problems first, and then made the code available to the world.

Let’s have a glimpse at it benefits.

Data Flow in One Direction – Properties are passed to component to render HTML tags. Component itself cannot change the property; instead, it requires a callback function to modify the property values.

Virtual DOM – is a JavaScript tree of React elements and components. React renders the virtual DOM to the browser to make the user interface visible. React observes the virtual DOM for changes and automatically mutates browser DOM to match the virtual DOM.

JSX – is a Javascript XML syntax transform, which helps in using HTML and rendering its sub-components. It is a preprocessor step that adds XML syntax to JavaScript. You can definitely use React without JSX but JSX makes React a lot more elegant. Just like XML, JSX tags have a tag name, attributes, and children. If an attribute value is enclosed in quotes, the value is a string. Otherwise, wrap the value in braces and the value is the enclosed JavaScript expression.

Easy to Integrate – React can be simply integrated with other tools or frameworks like Jest, Angular.js or Backbone.js.

Xamarin

Xamarin is highly popular mobile development framework with the rule write-once-run-everywhere coding for three leading mobile platforms: Windows, Android and iOS. It empowers developers to write in a single language on a single code base for their app to reach over billions of smart devices irrespective of the platform. Xamarin delivers perfect look and feel of any given platform’s native UI with power-packed functionality and native app performance. Xamarin eliminates the need to manage separate development teams or having to choose one platform over another.

Following are few more benefits of Xamarin:

Xamarin uses the C# programming language
C# is capable of doing anything you could do in Java, Objective-C, and Swift – and it works on platforms that use any of these. Most applications can share 75% or more of their coding, helping to make development on multiple platforms easier than ever before. Many functions unique to each device are mapped at runtime to correspond to that specific device, resulting in an end-user experience that works the way they expect it to work.

Xamarin can import and convert existing code
Do you have existing Objective-C or Java code? Xamarin uses an automatic binding generator to match code like custom controls and frameworks to your new app, and a little bit of testing is usually enough to fix any glitches that occur. By importing your existing code, you can hit the ground running and reduce the time it will take to roll out your improved app.

Xamarin offers same-day support for new OS releases
One of the biggest problems with apps is updating them when a new operating system comes out. These changes can cause major disruptions in the way some functions work, but this particular developer has been able to offer same-day updates that allow you to start taking advantage of new features and capabilities. These updates also mean that you can deal with any major disruptions to your app and get it back up and running if anyone was broken – your business can’t afford to have its tools stuck in limbo, and working with a company offering active support is one of the best ways of ensuring your investment won’t be lost at a crucial time.

Elasticsearch

Elasticsearch is the most popular enterprise search engine followed by Apache Solr based on Lucene. It provides a distributed, multitenant-capable full-text search engine with an HTTP web interface and schema-free JSON documents. Elastic search was first released in February 2010, and is a free and open source distributed inverted index created by Shay Banon. It is developed in Java, so it is a cross-platform.

Below you can find major highlights of Elastic Search:

Real-Time Data Analysis – All data is immediately made available for search and analytics.

Distributed approach – Indices can be divided into shards, with each shard able to have any number of replicas. Routing and rebalancing operations are done automatically when new documents are added.

Multi-Tenancy – Multiple indices can be maintained by single cluster and can execute queries individually or as a group. Also, maintain alias of indices and keep them updated.

Full-Text Search – Elastic Search implements a lot of features: customized splitting text into words, customized stemming, facetted search, and more. Powerful, developer-friendly query API supports multilingual search, geolocation, contextual did-you-mean suggestions, autocomplete, and result snippets.

Easy-To-Use RESTful API – Elastic Search is API driven; actions can be performed using a simple Restful API.

Open Source – Elasticsearch is available freely, under the most adoptable and trusted open source license of Apache 2.

In addition, the Microservices, Azure, and AngularJS are also trending in Asp .Net. Nowadays, enterprise applications are in high demand, and these tools are playing a key role to hit the ground and running.

Thanks for reading!

Want to know more about Xamarin and React? Feel free to explore Altabel’s blog and find more information about the hottest trends in IT world!

 

Svetlana Pozdnyakova

Business Development Manager

 

altabel

Altabel Group

Professional Software Development

E-mail: contact@altabel.com
www.altabel.com

Introducing ASP.NET Core:

ASP.NET Core is a new open-source and cross-platform framework for building modern cloud based internet connected applications, such as web apps, IoT apps and mobile backends. ASP.NET Core apps can run on .NET Core or on the full .NET Framework. It was architected to provide an optimized development framework for apps that are deployed to the cloud or run on-premises. It consists of modular components with minimal overhead, so you retain flexibility while constructing your solutions. You can develop and run your ASP.NET Core apps cross-platform on Windows, Mac and Linux. ASP.NET Core is open source at GitHub.

The framework is a complete rewrite that unites the previously separate ASP.NET MVC and Web API into a single programming model.

Despite being a new framework, built on a new web stack, it does have a high degree of concept compatibility with ASP.NET MVC.

ASP.NET Platform exists for more than 15 years. In addition, at the time of System.Web creation it contained a large amount of code to support backward compatibility with classic ASP. During this time, the platform has accumulated a sufficient amount of code that is simply no longer needed and is deprecated. Microsoft faced a difficult choice: to abandon backward compatibility, or to announce a new platform. They chose the second option. At the same time, they would have to abandon the existing runtime. Microsoft has always been a company focused on creation and launch on Windows. ASP.NET was no exception. Now the situation has changed: Azure and Linux occupied an important place in the company’s strategy.

The ASP.NET Core is poised to replace ASP.NET in its current form. So should you switch to ASP.NET Core now?

ASP.NET Core is not just a new version. It is a completely new platform, the change of epochs. Switching to ASP.NET Core can bring many benefits: compact code, better performance and scalability. But what price will be paid in return, how much code will have to be rewritten?

.NET Core contains many components, which we are used to deal with. Forget System.Web, Web Forms, Transaction Scope, WPF, Win Forms. They no longer exist. For simple ASP.NET MVC-applications changes will be minor and the migration will be simple. For more complex applications, which use a great number of .NET Framework classes and ASP.NET pipeline situation is more complicated. Something may work and something may not. Some part of the code will have to be rewritten from scratch. Additional problems may be caused by WebApi, because ASP.NET MVC subsystems and WebAPI are now combined. Many libraries and nuget-packages are not ready yet. So, some applications simply will not have a chance to migrate until new versions of the libraries appear.

I think we are waiting for the situation similar to the transition from Web Forms to ASP.NET MVC. ASP.NET Framework will be supported for a long time. First, only a small amount of applications will be developed on ASP.NET Core. Their number will increase, but sooner or later everyone will want to move to ASP.NET Core. We still have many applications running on the Web Forms. However, no one comes to mind to develop a new application on the Web Forms now, everybody chooses MVC. Soon the same happens to ASP.NET Framework, and ASP.NET Core. ASP.NET Core offers more opportunities to meet modern design standards.

The following characteristics best define .NET Core:

  • Flexible deployment: Can be included in your app or installed side-by-side user- or machine-wide.
  • Cross-platform: Runs on Windows, macOS and Linux; can be ported to other OSes (Operating Systems). The supported OSes, CPUs and application scenarios will grow over time, provided by Microsoft, other companies, and individuals.Command-line tools: All product scenarios can be exercised at the command-line.
  • Compatible: .NET Core is compatible with .NET Framework, Xamarin and Mono, via the .NET Standard Library.
  • Open source: The .NET Core platform is open source, using MIT and Apache 2 licenses. Documentation is licensed under CC-BY. .NET Core is a .NET Foundation project.
  • Supported by Microsoft: .NET Core is supported by Microsoft, per .NET Core Support.

The Bad:

  • As for the “cons” one of the biggest issues are gaps in the documentation. Fortunately most of the things for creating and API are covered, but when you’re building an MVC app, you might have problems.
  • Next problem – changes. Even if you find a solution to your problem, it could have been written for a previous version and might not work in the current one. Thanks to open source nature of it, there is also support available on github. But you get same problems there (apart from searching).
  • Another thing is lack of support in the tooling. You can forget about NCrunch or R# Test Runner. Both companies say they will get to it when it gets more stable.
  • ASP.NET Core is still too raw. Many basic things, such as the Data Access, is not designed for 100%. There is no guarantee that the code you are using now will work in the release version.

The Good:

  • It’s modular. You can add and remove features as you need them by managing NuGet packages.
  • It’s also much easier and straightforward to set up.
  • WebApi is now part of the MVC, so you can have class UserController, which will return a view, but also provide a JSON API.
  • It’s cross-platform.
  • It’s open-source.

ASP.NET Core is the work on the bugs of the classic ASP.NET MVC, the ability to start with a clean slate. In addition, Microsoft also aims to become as popular as Ruby and NodeJS among younger developers.
NodeJS and ASP.NET have always been rivals: both – a platform for backend. But in fact, between them, of course, there was no struggle. The new generation of developers, the so-called hipster developers, prefer Ruby and Node. The adult generation, people from the corporate environment, are on the side of .NET and Java. .NET Core is clearly trying to be more youthful, fashionable and popular. So, in future we can expect the .NET Core and NodeJS to be in opposition.

In its advertising campaign, Microsoft is betting on unusual positions for it: high performance, scalability, cross-platform. Do you think that ASP.NET “crawls” on the territory of NodeJS? Please feel free to share your thoughts with us.

Thank you in advance!

Ref: MICHAL DYMEL – DEVBLOG

 

Darya Bertosh

Darya Bertosh

Business Development Manager

E-mail: darya.bertosh@altabel.com
Skype: darya.bertosh
LI Profile: Darya Bertosh

 

altabel

Altabel Group

Professional Software Development

E-mail: contact@altabel.com
www.altabel.com

Content Management Systems help to control and manage the content of any website where business is efficiently managed. .NET CMS gives you the power you need to develop high-concept, beautiful websites with a strong backbone which gives an experience working with .NET platform used in various kinds of business.

Sitecore CMS and Sitefinity CMS are two content management systems based upon ASP.NET framework. We have chosen to focus on these systems as they are flexible, functional and easy in using. They are proved to be compatible on multiple devices, albeit using slightly different mechanisms, and customizable for the needs of differing countries. Also they are able to deliver vast amounts of information as part of logical information architecture.

Both of these CMSs have similar features and can meet various business needs with different requirements. Websites get more customized, gain more potential and get more interactive with these CMSs.

Hope the information in this article will assist you with the choice of either Sitecore or Sitefinity as more appropriate option for you.

Sitecore

Sitecore is a flexibile, scalabile and secure CMS, used by many leading global organizations such as Experian, Toshiba, Canon and Nestlé. The CMS incorporates a powerful desktop interface that is controlled by a fully-customizable role-based system. This desktop is very similar in look to a Windows desktop, which makes it easy for users new to Sitecore to pick up and learn the system. There are also multiple applications, like in Windows, aimed at specific tasks such as editing content, managing users, monitoring campaigns, setting up workflows, etc.

Sitecore enables web content editors and marketers to have full control over all aspects of their website from social integration and blog posts to advanced personalization, e-commerce and more.

Points in favor:

• The possibility to customize content based on user activity, such as completing a form;
• The opportunity to add an engagement metric, allowing developers to give visitors a value based on how much they’ve engaged with your solution;
• Sitecore CMS makes it easy to create world-class websites with its open architecture and rich development environment and tools;
• The function to send triggered emails (automated marketing messages based on a prospect’s behaviors) direct from the platform;
• On top of the CMS foundation, organizations can optimize the experience of their customers through multivariate testing, personalization and engagement automation;
• The CMS capabilities offer complete customization while maintaining data integrity so that organizations can manage large amounts of content efficiently not just on the web presence but across email, social, mobile and print;
• The ability to analyze the journey in either a campaign or a journey view, giving full visibility of the value to relevant sources;
• Sitecore CMS helps you to reach your customers in their preferred format with functionality to deliver content on multiple devices, including mobile.

Points against:

• If you do not have developers with .NET experience or operate on a small scale, Sitecore may not be the most appropriate option for your needs;
• The email marketing capabilities are still maturing along with volume capacity. The basics are solid, but the more advanced features still have some caveats in their function;
• When a platform offers an immense amount of features the usability becomes more challenging. For those organizations that can truly take advantage of the enterprise-level capabilities, proper training and onboarding (organizational change management) is a must-have in order to see the vision fulfilled;
• Sitecore CMS has a licensing cost. Pricing is based on the number of Sitecore Server installations, as well as the number of simultaneous users logged in (such as developers, designers, content editors, etc.).

Sitefinity

Sitefinity CMS is used for the construction and management of commercial websites, community portals, intranets, etc. Different successful organizations such as NASA, Chevron, Expedia, PepsiCo, Panasonic, Roche and more, rely on this CMS to optimize customer experiences across multiple digital channels. Sitefinity is engineered with flexibility and extensibility in mind to give developers the freedom they need to integrate legacy applications or use custom 3rd party controls and modules.

This CMS doesn’t require any special skills. You don’t even need to know any web development languages to use this system. But if you want to customize the system like our experts, then some of the languages you’d need to know.

Points in favor:

• Content Authors and Marketers need the ability to change and edit content on the fly. With Inline Editing feature you can create and edit content right on the page;
• Sitefinity’s page editor makes it easy to create rich, dynamic content by interacting with user-friendly interfaces. Content is created by simply dragging & dropping widgets onto a page;
• This CMS makes websites fully accessible on other platforms such as tablets and smartphones, which is really useful nowadays;
• Sitefinity provides a rich toolset for automatically connecting visitors with personalized content showing the right content to the right person by defining your audience, transforming the content, and testing the result;
• The multisite management makes it easy for organizations to manage a collection of websites and microsites through a centralized interface. Content authors can easily contribute to multiple websites, or utilize content from other websites. Users, roles, content, permissions, templates, images, and others can be effortlessly shared or synchronized between sites;
• Extensive Out-of-the-Box Features: there is an extensive toolset for addressing the challenges associated with managing a modern website. Solutions for mobile, email campaigns, social media, ecommerce, blogs, forums, search, and much more are instantly accessible. This allows organizations to focus on what to build instead of how to build;
• Sitefinity also provides inbuilt Search Engine Optimization (SEO) while enabling you to customize basic meta-data such as the title and page descriptions.

Points against:

• While the documentation is available, sometimes it isn’t extensive enough for some of the advanced concepts because it is of a quite basic level;
• Sitefinity provides a high level of granularity to customize the system, but sometimes this is a bit overkilled. For example, e-mail notifications are disabled by default in the installation system. If you want to see e-mail notifications after a form was submitted, you have to update your system settings, notification profile, and also enable notifications for forms;
• This CMS works on a “feather” template that is supposed to be more bootstrap friendly, so ultimately you have to write some special template code. A large scale HTML mode could help with some updates;
• There is licensing fees. Sitefinity tailors their licensing toward different user bases. There’s a free edition, a small business edition for companies who don’t need to use a lot of the advanced features/modules, standard, and enterprise.

Conclusion

As we can see, there are various attributes of Sitefinity & Sitecore CMSs and the choice definitely depends on your preferences.

If you are not up to build very structured site we would like to recommend Sitefinity because you don’t need any specific skills to work with this CMS. The licensing price seems good compared to others .NET CMS platforms and the out of the box features assist to get you up and running a site. The templating model is good and the extensible models aren’t overly complicated to work with.

On the other hand if you have a relatively big website or host many websites Sitecore is better in this case because this CMS is the most effective when it’s using as part of a full digital strategy, targeting content at your audience and using the personalization features to create real engaging websites. However in case your budget is limited and you have only a few sites to manage, this product is not the best option for you.

So wish you good luck with your own choice! I really hope this article was useful for you.

Also it will be nice to know your opinion. Which CMS do you use for your business? Which CMS do you think is more appropriate for your projects and why?

Please feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below!

 

Evgeniya Chajkovskaya

Business Development Manager

 

altabel

Altabel Group

Professional Software Development

E-mail: contact@altabel.com
www.altabel.com

Sitecore’s CMS flexibility, scalability and security make it an enterprise favorite, powering more than 32,000 websites around the world from financial powerhouses like American Express to some of the largest international sporting tournaments like Barclays ATP World Tour Finals. Let’s try to find out why Sitecore is so popular nowadays especially among companies which have got high traffic sites.

What is Sitecore and why it is a choice for so many companies and businesses?

From the start, Sitecore’s architecture is able to meet every unique business need with speed, flexibility and dependability. The large variety of organizations are using Sitecore’s CMS solutions – companies (more than 3,000 of the world’s leading brands such as Experian, Toshiba, Canon, Nestlé, American Express, Carnival Cruise Lines, easyJet, Heineken, and Microsoft), schools, and government agencies all over the world in every vertical sector are leveraging from Sitecore CMS to create business advantage and online success.

Sitecore is one of the leading enterprise-level content management systems built on ASP.NET, enabling web content editors and marketers to have full control over all aspects of their website from social integration and blog posts to advanced personalization, e-commerce and more. Launched in 2001, Sitecore has used the .NET platform from the beginning of the language itself, and has been growing in popularity over the last few years. Nowadays Sitecore is a quite popular CMS in the U.S.A. and Western Europe.

Sitecore CMS brings the power of personalization and conversation management right in the hands of your marketers and business users. The CMS incorporates a powerful desktop interface that is controlled by a fully-customizable role-based system. This desktop is very similar in look and feel to a Windows desktop, which makes it easy for users new to Sitecore to pick up and learn the system. Developers will find Sitecore’s powerful technology platform and open API architecture provides them the flexibility and scalability they need.

10 main reasons why companies should use Sitecore CMS

Some of the top features of Sitecore CMS include solutions that offer better insight to website user behavior as well as tools to increase site visitors:

1) Insight to Website Traffic Conversion;

2) Targeted Content Based on User Behavior;

3) Repurpose Content for Different Devices;

4) Easily Integrate with Third Party Tools;

5) Improved Search Engine Optimization (SEO);

6) Fast Integration with Microsoft Technology;

7) Highly Scalable;

8) Intuitive and User-Friendly Design;

9) Optimize Web Experience with Multivariate Testing;

10) Web 2.0 and Social Media Integration.

.NET-based CMSs: Sitecore, SharePoint, Umbraco – how to choose the right one for your business?

Comparing Sitecore and SharePoint

Firstly, let’s look at SharePoint and Sitecore, as it is often asked about the possibility of using Sitecore for an intranet or SharePoint for a public-facing website. While the idea of using one technology solution to solve both problems sounds promising, there are many things you should consider before limiting yourself.

Here are some thoughts in which cases you should choose Sitecore CMS for your projects and in when it is better to stick to SharePoint (these points are based on experts’ views as well as on Altabel’s own experience):

  • it is better to use Sitecore for a platform to customize the web user experience based on non-authenticated users;
  • choose Sitecore for a marketing driven platform;
  • for an external content focus, choose Sitecore;
  • choose SharePoint for an IT driven platform;
  • it makes sense to choose SharePoint for a collaboration platform;
  • for an internal content focus with enterprise level security requirements,  choose SharePoint.

Following the beaten path, many companies continue using SharePoint for creating public facing sites – they are well familiar with it and have already invested a lot of time, money, and knowledge in SharePoint. But actually it should be kept in mind that SharePoint was not developed for such sites so it’s worth adopting another CMS to develop them. There are some advantages Sitecore offers over SharePoint as a CMS for a public facing website:

  • Sitecore allows high flexibility for content editors and a logical hierarchical structure;
  • SharePoint is very limited to List Viewsfor content entry;
  • Sitecore’s Web Forms for Marketers makes building forms and triggering goals simple;
  • Frontend development for SharePoint is restricted and requires a lot of customized work, Sitecore on the other hand, is free of restrictions and able to do anything you want;
  • Sitecore offers fantastic technical support;
  • Sitecore offers easy multilingual configuration;
  • A/B testing is included with Sitecore, a must for a modern website. SharePoint does not come with any kind of A/B testing;
  • Sitecore’s DMS (Digital Marketing Suite) – SharePoint has nothing like this. Any website that has marketing in mind can greatly benefit from this tool included with Sitecore;
  • Sitecore is developer-friendly – Development in Sitecore is much easier and requires a lot less specific knowledge. More developers are able to produce a better solution, faster, cheaper;
  • Sitecore has a clear line between data and presentation making content easier to manage.

The bottom line is simple: If you’re looking to build a public internet site on the Microsoft platform, SharePoint makes sense if you meet a certain set of criteria.  But Sitecore provides an extremely compelling alternative that, from a business owner’s perspective, offers superior tools for engaging with the customer.

Comparing Sitecore and Umbraco

Sitecore CMS and Umbraco CMS are two leading content management systems based upon Microsoft’s ASP.NET framework. Their flexibility, functionality, integration capabilities and ease of use is why many have chosen to focus their technical expertise on these systems.

Let’s have a look at the similarities between Sitecore CMS and Umbraco CMS:

  • Easy integration with Microsoft Office;
  • Endless expansion possibilities;
  • Easy-to use User Interfaces (UI);
  • Design layouts are separated from the content;
  • Due to the large open-source Umbraco community and the expert development teams within the Sitecore network both CMS platforms are constantly evolving at a rapid pace;
  • Easily scalable and customizable through modules (Sitecore) or packages (Umbraco);
  • Can be integrated with your internal systems like ERP and CRM;
  • Comprehensive documentation and online help & guidance.

And now let’s get acquainted with the differences between these two CMS:

– Sitecore is an enterprise solution whereas Umbraco is suited to small-medium sized businesses;

– Sitecore is a license-based product. This means a license fee is paid to acquire it. Licensing options can be chosen, taking in consideration a number of factors, making it possible to use Sitecore in a variety of projects: from small non-profits, with websites running on a single server, to big corporations with millions of visits per day;

– Umbraco is an open-source product, meaning there is no license fee;

– In both North America and Europe, you can easily find an existing Sitecore customer. This is very helpful to further increase adoption as it means that new customers have some experience they can tap into. In addition, Sitecore has many government references where Umbraco has almost none;

– Sitecore 7.1/7.2 has advanced feature set;

– Sitecore is an established global player; much more so than Umbraco. Sitecore is in particular strong in the important and highly competitive US and UK markets.

Our opinion is that if you do a proper CMS vendor evaluation, you will probably find that the license cost is only a fraction of the overall project costs. Your criteria should really be to look at which system will meet your requirements most efficiently.

Conclusion

If you are looking for a .NET-based CMS, all these products will work – but right now, at Altabel we would lean toward Sitecore when looking for a pure CMS that provides fast development time, stable platform and ease of use for non-technical content creators.

Of course, each organization is different, and it makes sense to check out the products and run them through your technology selection process to determine which is best for you.

Hope you have found the article interesting and helpful for you.

Also it would be nice to hear your opinion and practical experience. What CMSs do you use and for what kind of projects? What is your favorite CMS and why?

Thank you for your attention and looking forward to your comments.

 

mk

Marina Karabanova
Marina.Karabanova@altabel.com
Skype ID: m.karabanova
Business Development Manager (LI page)
Altabel Group – Professional Software Development

 

E-commerce sector has been in fashion and on boost for a while now. That’s why there are many debates over choosing the right open source solution for it. Let’s try to figure out why nopCommerce could become your choice. If you are an ASP.Net developer, you might want to graciously add and/or argue with something. In any case, welcome aboard 🙂 and let’s get to the point.

“NopCommerce is among the top 5 featured e-commerce apps on Microsoft Web Matrix, downloaded more than 395,000 times from there and witnessed more than 883,142 source code downloads from Codeplex.”

The main feature of this software is that it is very easy to manage and quite user-friendly. This was the reason why nopCommerce created a buzz in the market soon after it was launched. Unlike others, nopCommerce is not written in PHP or Pearl rather, it is completely written in ASP.Net 4.0 and nopCommerce developers have provided the backend of SQL 2005 which even today is considered as very powerful database management platform.

NopCommerce is an open source e-commerce solution that contains both a catalog front-end and an administration tool back-end which is easy to work with for anyone with basic computing and administrative skills.

The various features that have made nopCommerce so popular are notification via sms, live chat, multiple language support, one page checkout procedure which ensures a low bounce rate, billing and shipping detail, mapping the products in the appropriate categories and sub categories. You have control over features such as discounts, coupons, wish lists, tax options, shipping methods and much more.

Speaking about other Nopcommerce features that seems quite prominent to me, they are:

• availability of exchange rate system that is based on the real time prices and multicurrency support (this has greatly helped the shoppers across the globe to shop freely irrespective of their current location);
• multi-store and multi-vendor support (this also allows online store owners to sell their products without the need to stock inventory and ship orders);
• drop shipping (enables the assignment of vendor details to a product).

Additionally NopCommerce is one of those few open source solutions that have been built keeping Search Engine Strategies in consideration with the use of friendly URLs, properly structured content and products to enable potential customers to find your store.

And last but not least nopCommerce is supported by fastest growing user community which has increased the technical as well as informative aspect of the solution.

With so many advantages listed, inadvertently a question arises if there are any pitfalls with this solution. And for sure there should be some. For instance it appears to have heavy server requirements and tends to require more design and development expertise than other shopping carts.

And what are your thoughts about nopCommerce? Please share your experience of using this e-commerce solution. Many thanks in advance!

 

Aliona Kavalevich

Aliona Kavalevich
Aliona.Kavalevich@altabel.com
Skype ID: aliona_kavalevich
Business Development Manager (LI page)
Altabel Group – Professional Software Development

The other day my colleague was providing an Open-source .Net CMSs overview . In this article I’d like to discuss one of the most popular and long-playing of them-Umbraco CMS.

Overview

Umbraco is a non-specialized content management system platform for creating web-solutions of scenarios ranging from simple to incredibly complex. Niels Hartvig, a Danish programmer, was the man who started developing Umbraco. Since it was released as open source software in 2004, its development is continued by Niels Hartvig’s team as well as by a wide developers community.

Umbraco is developed on ASP.NET platform, which is popular among professional programmers and is one of the most frequently used in the Internet along with JSP and PHP.

Umbraco and DotNetNuke are the most well-known ASP.NET CMSs. At the official Umbraco site it is said that the CMS currently powers more than 85.000 websites worldwide. In fact, it is much more than that. To finally convince you that Umbraco is a rather serious thing, it is appropriate to mention some large projects using it – Peugeot.com, Heinz.com, Wired.co.uk, Hasselblad.com, sandisk.com, Denmark MSDN Community.

Unlike many other CMSs, Umbraco is not a turnkey program solution right after installation – it’s impossible to start editing site content without preliminary actions. At the same time it provides developers with an easy and convenient environment, allowing them to create a site that would meet specific requirements.

Pros

1. Right after installing Umbraco you get a fully featured environment for storing and editing any data. Need to store content of the articles, information about employees, friends, companies, photo albums etc.?-no problem! You don’t have to study principles of work with databases, HTML or programming languages to do this. Type of documents is created with the aid of visual means, as well as fields belonging to it; places for these data on the site are also determined. Afterwards, documents content is added in the section of content editing. If needed in the future, it is possible to change required data fields as one pleases: f.ex. you can add a new field for contact information to the card of an employee.

2. Extension by standard tools – a developer doesn’t have to study some special language. One can use a favorite HTML editor – Visual Studio or Dreamweaver. All development is lead with standard ASP.NET means: master-page, HTML, ASP.NET controls. Plus there are add-ons on the basis of XSLT or Razor technologies.

3. Full control of the site appearance – such notions as themes and skins, that to a much extent limit web-developers possibilities, are not basic here. Everything a developer can do with ASP.NET master-pages tools, HTML, CSS is available in Umbraco development.

4. A convenient environment for filling a site with content is prepared for end-users. For formatted content one of the best editors TinyMCE is used. It has been improved for choosing and pasting media files. Users work with various data on the site in a common style, whether it is a photo gallery or company’s clients list. Therefore, it doesn’t cause much trouble for the users to learn the administrative part.

5. A very quick development of the sections that require only viewing information; API to organize various types of feedback.

6. A great amount of accessible extensions at the official support site. The CMS is quite popular, so the community is pretty large. That is why it is quite possible that there is already an answer to all your questions or a ready extension module has been already developed.

7. Splendid possibilities for code reuse. Once created a macros or a control can be easily applied in different places of the ongoing project or any other one.

8. Multilanguage support: terms dictionary, translation of the content 1 to 1 or an independent language site sections. There is a special functionality for translators in the administrative part.

Cons

1. It’s quite challenging to use the system right after installing. Umbraco is intended for developers and requires customization for a specific project before users are to see the site pages and to perform content editing. However, while installing one can choose a starter package that installs an appropriate initial structure for a blog, a personal or a news site. But still, customization is necessary.

2. A programmer, who is not familiar with the CMS, will not be able to start developing a site straightway, having to spend his time on studying the system and its possibilities.

3. The standard release of Umbraco requires full trust mode with extended rights for site work. Not all the hosting services permit it.

4. Site content support in XML may cause some complications with productivity on very big sites (several thousand nodes). In this case it is recommended to remember about page caching, macros output. Also, if there is a big amount of data, it is advised to store the records in the databases tables exclusively, not in Umbraco node-documents.

These are all advantages and disadvantages of using Umbraco we have experienced so far. You are welcome to add your own points to the list.

As usual, I’d be glad to see your comments, thoughts, sharing of experience, impressions and everything related to it right under the article 🙂

 

Nadya Klim

Business Development Manager

 

altabel

Altabel Group

Professional Software Development

E-mail: contact@altabel.com
www.altabel.com

Developers are in a unique position to educate and to capitalize on cloud opportunities. Unlike learning new programming techniques or Frameworks, cloud learning moves beyond development. There are infrastructure aspects to consider as well as potential organizational process and policy changes. However, developers know the application and cloud administration is a much lower bar, than, for example network administration. If you’re looking for a strategy to follow to cloud enlightenment; you’re reading the right article.

Give the Cloud a Whirl
When it comes to the cloud, don’t wait for the storm to hit you, but rather educate yourself; there is no substitute for experimentation and hands-on experience. Start by separating reality from marketing. Almost every cloud vendor offers a free trial. For example: Microsoft Azure offers a free trial. If you are truly new to cloud development; imagine borrowing a company server for 3 months; only there is no setup time. Just turn in on and away you go.

Given that experimentation time is limited; go for breadth rather than depth. Get a taste of everything. What most developers find is; after some initial orientation and learning the experience becomes what they already know. For example: Azure has an ASP.NET based hosting model called Web Roles. After configuring and learning Web Role instrumentation, the development experience is ASP.NET. Learning Azure Web Roles amounts to learning some new administration and configuration skills; coupled with a handful of new classes. The rest of what you need to know is nothing new if you’ve done ASP.NET!

Developer must keep their time constrained. Struggling for hours with something new is often not worth the effort. One should question wide adoption of something that will be difficult to work with. Cloud offerings are typically not niche or differentiating skills like, for example, SQL Server tuning.

Whatever cloud option a developer starts with; understand the authentication options. Intranet developers typically take authentication for granted. ASP.NET makes authentication look easy. Consider all the moving parts involved in making authentication automatic and secure. Understanding authentication is especially important if parts of an application will live within the organization’s datacenter and within the cloud provider.

Finally, look for the right opportunities to apply these new skills.

Navigating the Fog
Most developers are adept at picking when to jump on new technology and when to pull back. Unlike adopting, for example, a new Web Services approach; adopting a cloud option entails learning a little more administration. The cloud can give a developer total control, but the cost is learning a bit more administration.

Developers may find themselves in new territory here. Typically a “hardware person” selects a machine and a “network person” selects and configures a firewall. Cloud portals make network and server configuration easier, but the portal doesn’t eliminate the configuration role. The public cloud handles the hardware; but the developer must choose, for example, how many; CPUs, servers, and load balancers will be needed. This lowers the administration bar, but also might place the burden on the developer.

The cloud will not be the right option for every project. Give the cloud a fair chance. Decision makers may have two reactions to cloud; outright rejection or wild-eyed embrace. Neither reaction is healthy. There is middle-ground. Don’t let unrealistic expectations set by marketing brochures guide the first project. A developer’s experiences described earlier in the article will be helpful here. Set the bar low. Make the first experience a good experience.

Supplementing with the Cloud
One potential approach is to supplement with the cloud. Let the cloud handle some part of the application. For example: requirements may dictate a web page to handle user registration. Registrations often have deadlines and, given human nature, people often procrastinate. Registration traffic is likely to spike the week or a few days before the deadline. Rather than purchasing servers to accommodate the spike; leaving usage idle for most of the year, do registration in the cloud. Dial up more servers the week before registrations are due and dial the server could back down the week after registrations are due.

Aside from technical change; cloud adoption may require organizational change.

Clouds Don’t Work in a Vacuum
I would bet good money that most developers reading this article have no idea which ports in their organization are closed to incoming TCP/IP connections. However knowing who to ask is far more important than what is known. In some sense every organization is its own private cloud. Networking professionals have been connecting things together longer than developers. Internet performance is considerably different than Intranet performance. Cultivate relationships with whoever operates your Firewall.

Passing through a Firewall is overhead. Your organization’s infrastructure may not be cloud ready. Though if your network people banter about DMZs; chances are your organization’s infrastructure is probably cloud ready. As stated earlier authentication is important to cover; forcing users to authenticate multiple times within an application is intolerable to most users.
Budgeting for servers may be different than budgeting for compute cycles. There may be concern over whether compute cycles will amount to more than purchasing a server or two. There is no shortcut here. Just like any other budgeting a developer must do the math. Again, this may be new territory for developers. Typically developers aren’t asked how much storage an application requires. Typically the storage cost is spread throughout the projects an organization conducts. Budgeting difficulties may be a good reason not to do a project. The upside is; after doing the math a developer will likely find that costs are far below buying the hardware.

Conclusion
The cloud gives a developer control over all components from administration to assemblies. Added control comes with a price. A developer must venture into some new territory. This article provided a path to follow.

What is your opinion on cloud opportunities? Is it worth to give a trial? What is your personal experience in adopting a cloud option? Maybe you have some thoughts to share!

Polina Mikhan

Polina Mikhan
Polina.Mikhan@altabel.com
Skype ID: poly1020
Business Development Manager (LI page)
Altabel Group – Professional Software Development


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