telerik, vendor of software components for the Microsoft.NET platform, announced Sitefinity - an innovative Web Content Management System for ASP.NET that introduces the notion of "100% WYSIWYG" site construction.
The application establishes an environment that enables even non-technical business users to build sites, contribute content, and perform workflow tasks in a truly visual manner. Sitefinity, however, is built with the developer in mind. Thanks to its open modular architecture and a fully-exposed API the product enables developers to modify the provided out-of-the-box functionality, reuse existing code from non-CMS driven sites, and add new modules in the form of standard ASP.NET controls.
"Sitefinity comes to challenge the typical CMS shortcoming of focusing almost entirely on the business user, without considering the needs of responsible for the deployment, customization and administration of the system", says Vassil Terziev, Business Development Manager of telerik. "Building on our strong expertise in Microsoft .NET technologies we’ve created a unique system for web content management - one that delivers great developer experience without sacrificing the end-user functionality."
A key advantage of Sitefinity is the open application architecture, which is comprised of self-contained modules, according to the developers
They are not strongly tied together, but rather communicate by implementing common interfaces that are fully documented. This empowers developers to either build upon the existing modules (i.e. user management, workflow, etc.) or add custom ones and integrate them with the core application. For example, you can take a data-driven control, like an article manager, and implement the workflow interface. As a result, all articles will pass through the workflow cycle and will not go live until they have been approved.
The application customization with Sitefinity is taken to another level thanks to the ability for side-by-side development in Visual Studio .NET. Every Sitefinity web-site has an automatically generated VS.Net project file, which can be accessed from the Sitefinity Project Manager. It allows developers to write code in the IDE and test the results on-the-fly in the working project, by simply refreshing the browser window.
A unique feature of Sitefinity is a tool called Property Grid. It enables developers and end-users to configure user controls directly from within the browser. The tool looks similar to the Properties Window in Visual Studio .NET and eliminates the need for off-line configuration and upload of control files. For example, you can modify the dimensions of a certain editable area or change the expand effect of a menu without writing any code. If a control can be configured off-line in Visual Studio .NET you can configure it on-line with the Property Grid and see the result immediately. As a result, the major part of a web-application customization can be performed directly from the browser.
The pages can be assembled from a list of approved reusable user controls, like HTML editable areas, navigation controls, news, articles, etc. Content authors can contribute text or HTML using the integrated r.a.d.editor control – the high-end WYSIWYG editor for ASP.NET. It features an intuitive Word?-like interface and enables regular business users to format text, build tables, and insert images, Flash, and Windows Media as easily as writing a document. Existing content can be copy-pasted from other applications with options for stripping of formatting that is not suitable for the web.
To streamline collaboration and enable separation of tasks and roles, Sitefinity offers an expedient linear workflow with three independent types of content – layout content, page content, and controls content. They pass through the workflow individually so that people with different roles and access can work together. For example, a graphic designer can adjust the size of the site header, a system administrator can place an editable area in the central cell of a page, so that a content contributor can then type in the text for the assigned editable area. All outstanding tasks for a given user are accumulated in his/her common workspace, known as the Intray. Furthermore, conditional content delivery and content locking ensure that a change will not be visible to other users until it is approved.
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