Orchard_logo_2009.jpg So the truth is, Orchard is not Microsoft's newest dive into the world the open source content management. At least not officially. When the project is run by a group of Microsoft employees, you can't help but wonder what, if any, role Microsoft might have behind the scenes.

Word about the new ASP.NET based open source Web CMS appeared only last week and now the details have arrived on CodePlex.

Building a Community

Orchard is -- or will be when it's finally available for download -- a free, open source project designed to create applications and components based on the ASP.NET platform. Applications and components that people actually want to use -- thus the drive to build a strong interactive community.

The first output planned is a Web CMS that includes an extensible framework to allow community members to create extensions and themes.

As it's in the initial development stages, the project team is looking for feedback on things like the roadmap, and any existing documentation and source code before the Web CMS becomes available for download.

Starting with the Basics

A quick look at the roadmap tells you that the basics are in place, including an admin panel, CMS page creation and management, templates and content zones, content editing and publishing. In addition, MVC2 areas provide some composability infrastructure.

The first iteration is expected to be ready tomorrow, but they are working on some final things such as Media Management, Roles and Permissions and integration with external editing tools like LiveWriter.

Oxite Behind the Code?

The original team for Orchard did not include members of the Oxite team. But it does now. The two principal developers of Oxite: Erik Porter and Nathan Heskew have joined the Orchard team as well as the developer of the MVC SparkViewEngine, Louis DeJardin.

While the Oxite development activities do not appear to be used directly in the Orchard project, there is obviously some influence there. The intent is to see Orchard as the viable successor to Oxite. And the team indicates that a migration path from Oxite to Orchard is top of mind.

Need More Information?

What's available on the Orchard CodePlex site wasn't quite enough to quell our curiosity, so we reached out to Bertrand Le Roy, Orchard Program Manager for more details. Those are coming soon.

Until then, take a tour of Orchard, read the documentation and find out how you can get involved.