First look at Kentico CMS 6.0

The guys at Kentico released a first ctp version of the upcoming 6.0 version which is scheduled for this September. This version was offered to all the attendees of the UK and Irish partner conference. Although I did not attend this conference, I could not resist to download and play with it.

The guys at Kentico released a first ctp version of the upcoming 6.0 version which is scheduled for this September. This version was offered to all the attendees of the UK and Irish partner conference. Although I did not attend the conference, I could not resist to download and play with it.

In this post I will cover a lot of new features I found very useful. I really hope that they will make it to the final.

Let's start our tour with the CMS Desk. The first thing I noticed is a new impersonation option which can be accessed via the arrow next to the user name. This opens a popup with a user selection dialog. I can see this really come in handy!


Also new is a sort of world globe image button next to the sign out button. By clicking the button, the editor is able to change the user interface culture.


Next up is the content tree which has also been updated with some new features. As you can see in the screenshot below, treenodes now have a new icon next to name that indicates if the file is published (green), not published (orange) or archived (red). There is also a new button hidden in the top right corner (which shows when you hover over it) that refreshes the content tree.


The following part really brought a big smile on my face. The screenshot below shows the new syntax highlighting that has been added throughout the whole CMS.


Now you can easily modify CSS stylesheets, Transformations, Templates etc. with nice syntax highlighting! There is also a new option that allows you to switch from ASCX layout type to HTML layout. This basically allows editors that don't have any ASP.NET programming experience to create templates based on HTML in combination with Kentico macro's (K#).

Looking closer at the documents tabs you will notice the new online marketing features:


This tab allows the editor to create the A/B test pages and/or Multivariate pages. Note: the multivariate test functionality was not added in this 6.0 ctp.

In the Page tab you will see a change in the appearance of the WYSIWYG editor. This is because the current FCK editor has been replaced with the CK editor.


The CK editor brings some nice new features like content templates:


Selecting a content template adds a default html template to the WYSIWYG editor like shown in the image below.


and of course inline widgets!!!

Taking a closer look at the widgets I notice the new layout web parts and widgets:


These web parts automatically create a new layout based on the settings applied in the web part properties. Take for example the columns layout web part below.


As you can see in the screenshot above, the web part contains 3 columns each containing an own web part zone. The green horizontal and vertical rulers allow the editor to resize the columns using the mouse.

Another great example is the tabs layout web part.


This web part creates a tab layout by simply specifying the desired number of tabs. You can easily add or remove tabs.

Other nice new web parts include:

The Facebook like button web part


CSS Style Selector web part


3D Carousel web part


Language selection (dropdown) web part


For version 6.0 the newsletter module was upgraded. New features include bounced e-mail handling, support for double opt-in, open e-mail tracking and load balancing via multiple SMTP servers. When we look at the ctp we can see some of this new functionality available in the following screens:



And in Site Manager we can see the SMTP servers module:


If you want to read more about the new E-mail marketing features check out Michal Neuwirth's blog post.

Another big module that was taken under the loop for 6.0 is the E-commerce module. The E-commerce module brings the possibility to separate the data per site, offers improvements in the shipping calculation, adds support for multi-lingual products and contains new product types like donations, downloadable products, paid membership and product bundles. It also brings a new way of presentation in the form of a ribbon menu:


If you would like to share your thoughts and ideas on this new UI design you can do so in the comments of the following blog post.

Most of the listed functionality was not finished in the ctp except for the shipping cost. The screenshot below shows that you can now specify the shipping cost based on the weight of the products in the order.


The ribbon like toolbar is also added in the "My Desk" section.


If you take a closer look at the "My desk" module you will notice another new feature for 6.0 called dashboards. Dasboards basically give users the ability to create a custom page using dashboard widgets.


This results in the following:


For more information on Dashboards visit the following post on "Dashboarding" by Michal Neuwirth.

The dashboard page is also added to the upgraded "Web analytics" module. In version 6.0 web analytics is a part of the Online Marketing Solution. If you take a look at the module you will see new sections like the Optimization section with A/B tests.


The "Web analytics" module also uses the newly integrated Microsoft Charts Control. The editors now can take full control of the new chart control and use it to create fancy looking reports like the sample report below:


One of the last new features available in the CMS Desk is the new image editor.


For more information on the changes in the image editor I would like to forward you to Petr Vozak's blog post: Better image editor in Kentico CMS 6.0.

Our tour continues in the Site Manager. Looking detailedly at the Sites section, specific editing a site, you will see a new Off-line mode tab that allows you to take your site offline.


This is where you can take the site off-line and provide a text to display when the site is off-line. You can see the result of this action in the following screenshot:


In the administration section you will notice a couple of upgrades in some modules. For example the permissions module has been changed slightly and shows permissions per selected user.


Version 6.0 also introduces a new type of user grouping into so called memberships:


Memberships will be used in modules like E-commerce to provide options like paid memberships. It also allows you to assign roles for a limited time.

One module I particularly love is the System module (for clear cache and debugging!). Taking a closer look at the SQL debugging screens you will notice some nice new indicators which will make detection of slow queries a lot faster.


Also the files section has been updated to allow site administrators to store files (attachments) from the filesystem to the database and back.


The Smart Search module has been updated with a new tab that allows you to run a search preview on the created index.


Continuing with Settings you will notice the new hierarchical layout and new settings like:

Performance settings (automatic compression and minification of javascript and css)


SEO settings for language prefixes and ability to move the viewstate to the end of the page


Where the "Use language prefix for URLs" options results in urls with culture code prefix like the following:


Image watermark settings


LinkedIn Membership Provider settings


Settings for Object Versioning (Woohoo!!!!)


Custom settings


You can add your own settings in the custom settings module in the development section.


Check out Petr Vozak's blog post on improved settings in Kentico 6.0 for more detailed information. 

Let's take a look at the changes made in the Development section. The first thing I noticed (which is actually also available in other modules but I did not notice it until now) is this new little arrow next to the actions column that allows you to export the data from the grid to Excel, CSV and XML.


It also gives you the option to do an advanced export where you can kind of the tweak the outcome.


Like mentioned earlier in this post you will directly notice the new layout in the CSS stylesheets module with syntax highlighting.


The guys and girls from Kentico have also added a new Theme tab where you can directly upload your files into a sort of media library environment.


A new option in the media library is to actually modify files (with syntax highlighting!) directly from the CMS.


Version 6.0 offers the site administrators a lot of new shortcuts for editing data. One example of this can be found in the custom tables module. There is a new tab that shows the table data where you can add, modify and delete data without having to switch to the CMS Desk.


Great improvements can be found in the Document Type modules. You can now easily upload document type icons from within the CMS. 


If you take a closer look at the fields tab you will notice some redesign.


There are new * indicators for required fields and quick link navigation (with nice effect!). Form controls have been grouped per type (and there are also some new ones!):

And there is a new icon next to the field caption and description that allows you to create localized strings from this location. You will notice this new feature popup throughout the whole CMS.


Transformations brings a new feature in the form of transformation types. In version 6.0 you can choose to create hierarchical transformations. Hierarchical transformations allow you to choose transformations for document types and specify the level where it should be used. No more need for nested repeaters!


You can then use the new web parts like the UniViewer to repeat different kinds of document types using the hierarchical transformations.


Note: the UniViewer is actually already available sortof as a prototype in the current version so it is not really new.

When we go to the child types tab, it is now possible to modify the document types child document types but also the parents. This will definitely come in handy!


I just mentioned that form controls now have a type. You can see this with a slightly new redesign in the form control properties.


One thing that I mentioned earlier was the new settings that allow object versioning. The ctp contains versioning for page templates like shown in the image below.


In system tables there is a new feature that allows you to modify views and stored procedures from within the CMS (drewl).


With web part containers in version 6.0 you will have the option to add css stylesheets (as standalone components that can be shipped with it's design).


If you take a look at the support section you will find two new pages: API examples and Controls examples:

More info on the API examples was posted on Kentico DevNet by Petr Vozak.

That being said I think I covered the Site Manager. Let's take a look at the new installation and management features.

With 6.0 you will be able manage your Kentico CMS installations using the new Kentico Installation Manager. The Kentico Installation Manager allows you to easily install new Kentico CMS instances, administer your Kentico CMS websites and check for new upgrades and hotfixes (and apply them). 


The Kentico CMS Web Installer now supports Web site, Web application and Azure projects:


Have you started to wonder if that is all? Well the answer to that question for the 6.0 CTP is yes (although I might have missed some during my vast review). Based on the roadmap and UK presentation, here is a list with features still to come:
  • Bi-directional staging
  • Contact management
  • Health monitoring and performance counters
  • Hierarchical categories
  • E-commerce features (paid memberships, downloadable products, donations, bundles, taxes per state and zip, new payment gateways eWay and iDeal)
  • Multiple file uploader
  • New macro engine (K#)
  • LINQ support
  • System integration bus for synchronizing data with external systems
  • New import toolkit
  • Translation workflow
  • Security improvements (password policy, improved captcha)
  • New Corporate Site template
This concludes my first look at Kentico CMS 6.0 and I hope you all have enjoyed it as much as I did. 

Kentico CMS version 6.0 is scheduled for September 2011 and for more information on the roadmap I would like to point you to the following link.

See you next time.