Telerik (newssite) has officially launched the latest version of its web content management system, Sitefinity, today. With a completely redesigned architecture, there are a number of improvements, not the least of which include advanced workflow and new e-Commerce capabilities.

A Redesigned Web CMS for Everyone

Martin Kirov, executive vice president of Sitefinity at Telerik told us that for the last two years, Telerik has had the biggest team working on Telerik Sitefinity 4.0. Completely rebuilt from the ground up, the latest version of this Web CMS was designed to increase developer productivity (and in turn the ability to easily develop 3rd party components), and to provide the business user with a user experience that is focused on the essentials.

Task Oriented UX

The back-end -- or administration/editorial -- user experience in Sitefinity 4.0 has been streamlined, and new capabilities have been added to allow making changes without the need for a developer.

Editorial improvements are plenty in this new release, including:

  • A new Forms Module which allows administrators to create forms via a drag and drop approach.
  • An integrated web analytics module.

Some of the administration improvements include:

  • A new installation and upgrade process.
  • Site configuration is now exposed via the UI and stored in XML files instead of config files.
  • Store different configurations, or policies, for users, locations, roles.
  • Change the language of buttons and labels.
  • Admin Pages can be customized in a similar manner as front-end website pages. For example, a custom field can be added to store specific metadata information. This is done via a drag and drop experience.
  • Permissions can be set on a content items or element on a page where it used to be set per page/module.
  • The platform is now compliant with Section 508 and the WCAG 2.0.

Here's an overview video of Telerik Sitefinity 4.0:

New e-Commerce Functionality

Telerik acquired their e-Commerce capabilities for 4.0 with the acquisition of Mallsoft. Mallsoft, a former Telerik partner, is a small 5-6 employee shop that built custom shopping cart technologies.

That functionality is in the process of being fully integrated with the Telerik Web CMS and all the employees are part of either the Telerik's West Coast office in San Diego or the Development team in Bulgaria.

Extensibility a Key Element

One of the main reasons for the complete redesign of the Telerik Web CMS was, as I said earlier, to increase developer productivity, not just for Telerik developers, but for partners that create third party components for the Web CMS.

Probably one of the biggest enhancements is the ability to create custom workflows in Visual Studio (WWF integration) that support just about any defined business process. We were told that a custom workflow designer is in the works. Also, a new Widget Template editor provides improved widget controls layout and output modifications. There's a good blog post on the Telerik website that gives you a look into the advanced workflow capability.

A new SDK for Telerik 4.0 will provide a big boost to developers to get websites up and running quickly.  The SDK includes a number of ASP.NET AJAX and Silverlight controls that come from Telerik's long list of RadControls. Although the platform is licensed per developer, the SDK is open to an unlimited number of developers.

And along with the new SDK comes a set of starter kits designed to get you up and running quickly with your Intranet or Retail/Education website. You can use these websites as a way to get up to speed on what Sitefinity has to offer or you can customize them for your own use.

It's interesting to note that Telerik did some testing to demonstrate the level of improvements with version 4. Tests were designed based on a list of developer tasks and run against both Telerik 4.0 and Telerik 3.x. Some of these included:

  • Create a content item through the API
  • Modifying back-end pages
  • Installing the project manager and creating a new project
  • Integrate a third party app via a web service
  • Implementing a custom module

The results showed a 70%  increase in productivity. You can read about the tests that were conducted and the results.

Telerik is happy with the latest version. Kirov did indicate that there was still come polishing to do, but that overall the new version has been well received. It is already in use with a number of websites including: Bank of Cyprus Australia and Avtex.

If you are interested in seeing what Telerik Sitefinity 4.0 can do for your organization, Telerik has launched an online sandbox to allow evaluations. This move is just the first step in a strategy to offer Sitefinity in a SaaS environment in  2011.