Free Web CMS built on SharePoint Services Well this is kind of interesting. Do you have SharePoint Services (WSS) up and running, but would really like to have some web publishing capabilities on top of it. Unfortunately you don't have the money to invest in full blown MOSS just to get web content management. CompleteSharePoint.NET offers you a solution -- a Web content management system built on top of WSS.

We were interested in understanding a bit more about this new Web CMS, so we asked Tommy Segoro -- its creator -- a few questions.

CompleteSharePoint.NET was built by Tommy Segoro, a Practice Lead working at L7 Solutions in Perth, Western Australia. It is currently a beta solution. Released on CodePlex in October of last year, CS.NET has been downloaded over 519 time to date.

The Drivers For Building a Free WCM on WSS

As a SharePoint developer, we were curious to understand why Segoro choose to build a free web content management solution on top of Windows SharePoint Services (WSS). Segoro indicated that in terms of functionality required for a public website, MOSS delivers the same capabilities as an open source solution like DotNetNuke, only it costs a heck of a lot more in terms of licensing.

Segoro decided that he could build a solution that would be great for informational based websites that need versioning, web part capabilities and other MOSS functionality. Doing so would benefit not only him, but the SharePoint community in general. "I can just use DotNetNuke for public websites but I want to write something that is not just general .NET but SharePoint instead."

CompleteSharePoint Functionality

It is said to have some, but not all, of the same functionality as MOSS -- SharePoint Server 2007. Some of these features include:

  • Custom base publishing content type (named CompleteSharepoint.NET Article Page)
  • Custom site actions menu
  • Custom administration pages located in _layouts
  • Custom controls such as page editing toolbar
  • Custom field controls (eg. publishing page content field using FreeTextBox)
  • ASP.NET VirtualPage to treat page layout as if it's a compiled .NET page

CS_EditingPage.jpg
CS.NET Editing Mode
 

Planned Functionality

We asked what additional capabilities CS.NET will have down the road. Segoro indicated that member registration is one feature. He described the member capabilities within DotNetNuke where visitors can register their own username/passwords.

With SharePoint OOTB, you have to use Windows Authentication. Segoro says SharePoint does have the ability to provide dual membership using Forms Authentication, but it's not straightforward to configure. He is working on a feature than enables visitors to easily register and be added to SharePoint membership automatically.

An approval workflow is another upcoming capability. In WSS, you can only attach workflow to Document Libraries, but not the custom page editing toolbar. In MOSS you can attach workflow to the page editing toolbar. Segoro wants to enable this functionality for CS.NET.

The Pieces of CompleteSharePoint.NET

Of course, like WSS, this web content management solution is also free. It's comprise of three solutions: 

  • CompleteSharepoint.Features
  • CompleteSharepoint.UI
  • CompleteSharepoint.Web

To work with the solution files you need Visual Studio 2008 and a minimum of version 3.0 of the .NET framework.

Who's Using CompleteSharePoint?

Here's an example of CompleteSharePoint.NET in action:

CS_example.jpg
Example of CS.NET http://www.bmuu.com.au
 

You can see another example at Segoro's own website: http://www.tommyfrancesca.com. He has had a number of enquiries and intends to use CS.NET to develop websites for his own clients. "As it’s SharePoint, it’s already got versioning, workflow, search, etc which – for me – are the minimum requirements for any CMS system."

The free Web Content Management System is targeted at people and businesses that want an informational website, but don't want the expense of a MOSS Internet license.

What is the Feedback from the SharePoint Community?

At this time, working on CompleteSharePoint.NET is not Segoro's day job. He has gotten a lot of positive feedback from the SharePoint community since CS.NET's first release, but he feels he needs to do more marketing -- which takes time.

Segoro has been told CS.NET has very good prospects and have the potential to become a commercial CMS. But it still needs work and more enterprise level functionality. This is how most solutions start though -- as an idea someone has when they are working a full time job.

Why CompleteSharePoint for a Name?

We asked Segoro about the name for his free content management solution. He said it's called Complete SharePoint because it is built completely on the SharePoint platform. He tried to use SharePoint lists for storing data and as much of the native SharePoint out-of-the-box functionality as possible including content types, columns, top navigation, even WSS search.

A Perfect Example of a Platform in Action

No one argues that SharePoint is a platform and not a product. CompleteSharePoint.NET is a prime example of how you can take this platform and do some very cool things. A web content management system built on top of WSS is something that many organizations may be interested in looking further into, especially the small to mid-sized businesses.

You can download the beta code here and read a bit more about what gets installed and how to customize it on their blog.