I’m planning on launching some small consumer software products in the next couple months and to support this effort, I need to have a CMS, Forums Software, Store Front (Credit Card Processing) and Wiki solutions up and running. Since I’m a .Net guy, my first choice is to use Microsoft .Net technology, but if I don’t find anything there that suits me, off to the LAMP stack I go. It’s important to me that all of these are tied together with a single sign-on. It always irritates me when you go to a site and they make you first log in to the site, the create a separate login for forums. I will avoid that experience for my customers and users.
My research first started with Google/Bing type searches. That really leads me to many choices. Actually too many. Next, I go to my friend network. The first obvious person I turn to is Scott Cate because he seems to always have the best advice on this kind of thing. The guy is plugged into everything!
Scott give me a very strong recommendation to look at Umbraco. He says he is personally involved in writing code for that CMS, it’s very extensible, has a great admin UI and bottom line, is just good stuff. So, Off I go to http://umbraco.org.
What I Find
I discover Umbraco is an open source project hosted at http://www.codeplex.com. I find that it’s available in Microsoft Web Platform Installer. It’s not obvious to me that it includes forum, wiki or shopping cart software. I don’t really expect the shopping cart, but I was hoping for wiki and forums software integrated. At this point, I’m sure none are integrated but it seems there are add-ins that might help me.
After searching the web, I find http://uforum.codeplex.com/ which has lots of downloads but not no checkins since June last year (not very active). I also find, what appears to be the treasure chest of addins at http://our.umbraco.org/projects. I do find uForum listed here, and it does say it is what is used with Umbraco so I’ll probably go with that.
There is another forum mentioned quite a bit called YAF (http://www.yetanotherforum.net/). It seems much more active than uForum so I should probably give that some thought. I did see another post on configuring it that looked complex.
For Ecommerce, they list Commerce for Umbraco. They give a link to a site using it ( http://orders.homaxproducts.com/ ) which is a dead link. The primary site is http://commerce4umbraco.codeplex.com/. There seems to be some controversy on the net about dashCommerce.net.
Clearly there is history here and it seems some issues around licensing and open source but I don’t quite follow all the threads. It would be nice if someone clarified this so I would know the story and could decide if I’m comfortable with what is going on there.
Here I draw a big zero. When I search for “Umbraco Wiki Integration” I don’t find anything obvious for what wiki to use. Umbraco has a wiki on their main site, but I can’t tell which one it is and how they integrated it. Another worry is I posted a question to the forums about which wiki/forums software they use and still don’t have answer after about 18 hours. Seems like this is a trivial answer making me think the forums are not very active. Here is a link to my thread. Maybe by the time you read this, someone will have answered it. http://our.umbraco.org/forum/getting-started/questions-about-runway-and-modules/10554-which-forum-and-wiki-sw-is-Umbracoorg-using.
Also, just a side note. The forum software is not so easy to find. From http://umbraco.org, you have to chose the Documentation link, then 5 subcategories down is a forum link. Ultimately, you end up here: http://our.umbraco.org/forum.
Installation Of Umbraco Experience
Finally, the meat of this post. My installation experience. I typically don’t blog everything I install, but in this case, I had a special request from @paulsterling. I had tweeted “Just Installed umbraco on my local win7 box with iis7. web pi failed. recreated web site with iis worked. Lots of complaints posted”. Paul tweets back “do you have link to your feedback from your #epbi @umbraco install experience? always looking to improve”.
Well Paul, I’m a sucker for the “always looking to improve” which is what motivated this post.
To make sure I’m reasonably fair, I’ve created a VM with just Windows 7 Ultimate loaded. No Visual Studio, No Db. I’m going to install from there and document the steps in as much detail as I can. The first time I did this (OK, the first several times) it did not work. Let’s see what happens now.
Step By Step Experience
Go to the Windows Platform Installer Site, choose “Download It Now” and Choose Umbarco under the CMS category
Then, PI figures out lots of dependencies of which I just accept and say install (about 100 meg).
I then get prompted for a whether I want mixed mode or integrated authentication with SqlExpress. I say Integrated because I’m running everything on my local vm and that is good enough. In my earlier tests, I was doing this with SqlServer 2008 on my real development so this is a little different than what I did previously which failed. Let’s see what happens here.
And now, we are off for the install. It says it’s installing lots of components.
About 5 minutes later I get this screen where I fill in MyUmbracoApp and press continue.
Then, I get a screen where I leave the defaults including “Create a New Database” and fill in a password for sqlexpress (I just make that up since it’s going to create a sqlexpress database for me).
I forget to scroll down and see the rest of the page so I get a warning. I then scroll down, fill in the below with the same password (which probably could be different) and press continue.
And, I get this error:
I say “no” because likely bad things will happen. Now, I go backwards a little and try to install it to a SqlServer Instance running externally. I do know that I will be able to make this work, but here is where the experience kind of sucks. I don’t know that most people who have not spend years like I have messing around with sqlserver and asp.net would figure it out.
As a little bit of a disclaimer and possible reason why things did not work, I have to admit I have almost no experience with SqlExpress. I use SqlServer on all my projects. Maybe I did not answer a question as well as I could of had I known SqlExpress better.
So, now I update my screen to point to a SqlServer on a system named W500 (that’s the main computer the VM is running on with it’s firewall open to SqlServer port 1433. I rename the database to umbracofirst hoping it will create this as well as the user umbracouser. Let’s see.
Up comes this screen after I press Continue which is encouraging.
A few minutes go by and then I get some good news.
I press Finish and am brought back to the the PI screen.
Now, time to see what happened. A completion dialog with “what’s next might have been nice as opposed to just a “Finished and Congratulations” message.
Time to Snoop Around for What Happened
My first guess is it installed an IIS web site. So, let’s run IIS Manager as follows to see.
Sure enough, here is the site it created.
To run the default.aspx page, I do this:
Http 404 just means not found.
Things Did Not Work! Time for a Fix
After trolling the internet for a while, I find someone who says try removing and re-adding the web site in IIS Manager. I do that as follows:
Then, do re-add it.
which leads to the following where I’ve name the site “MyUmbracoWeb” and added the physical path to where the app was installed by PI.
I get the following warning
which means I’ve created another web site (in addition to the one there originally named “Default” that is running on port 80. If I try to run the new web site, something bad will happen because I’ve asked for two sites to run on port 80. So, I say Yes. Now, it shows me that Default Web Site is running and MyEmbracoWeb is not.
So, I need to stop “Default Web Site” and start “MyUmbracoWeb”. I do that as follows:
which gives me just MyUmbraco running.
So, now to run the default page again.
and Presto! now I’m back on track.
Continuing With Step By Step
So, now we are back on track, let’s finish the setup.
The screen above has a “Next” button on the bottom right (a little out of site). Press that.
We get Step1/5, Accept License.
Next, Confirm Defaults (nothing to change)
Confirm leads to and error:
This means we can’t write to the directory where the web site lives. So, let’s add permissions to that as follows:
chose Edit and then full control for the IIS_IUSRS user.
Press OK (Apply happens automatically)
For some reason, I lost my IE session so I had to back and re-run Default.aspx from IIS again, then go through first two wizard steps which takes me to the second step successfully completing.
Moving on to by pressing Install button.
Feeling like I went to step 3, but still happy because I’m getting good messages. After pressing Next gain I get:
It tells me my permissions are Perfect! Now, really starting to feel good, pressing next gives me:
I put in a password for my umbraco admin account and press “Change Password” button. I get another success!
Pressing Next again I get:
Clearly, I’m not an expert so I chose “Add Runway” and I do actually watch the video. It’s quite good IMHO.
Pressing next again, I get the following where I now chose Standard top Navigation and Contact Form.
I press “Install Selected Modules” button and get a success install message:
Pressing Next asks me to Register with umbarco (which I do), the press the hyperlink “Launch Umbraco”.
Now, I get the admin screen for umbraco!
If I go back and now run http://localhost I get:
Everything is working!!! Hurray!!
Kind of early for conclusions, but I’d say that the installation is clearly a work in progress. My personal preference would not to have this installer since it is obviously still a work in progress. Again, my personal opinion is that in this case less is more. Unless the experience with the wizard is near perfect, don’t do one. It just gets people (like me) frustrated.
On a happier note, I’ve been playing with Umbraco now for about 2 or 3 hours and am really impressed with it’s potential. I am going to continue down the path of evaluating (and hopefully using) umbraco for my CMS,Forums,Wiki and Ecommerce solutions.
Wish me luck!