dotCMS v1.9: Multi-site Management, New UI

Open source J2EE/Java Web CMS dotCMS (news, site) got a face-lift and several new capabilities in the latest release of version 1.9.

With this release, dotCMS tries to ease the life of developers andappeal to companies that don’t have Java developers on staff. Hence, thefocus on the ability to easily create and manage templates and contenttypes with mere knowledge of HTML, CSS and some scripting.

Thesegoals are reflected in the new User Interface that provides data andHTML-driven commands and a set of new features for web developers.

What You Will See in v1.9

Multi-site Management

Althoughthe vendor calls it “multi-tenant,” let’s clarify that we’re not reallytalking about anything SaaS here. The new multi-site management featureallows to build and manage a plethora of sites on a single dotCMSinstance.

To create a new site, you could clone one of theexisting sites using the new “copy host” feature in the Host Manager andselect which parts of it you want in a new one (down to the particularfiles or pages). Or, you could create a new site which is a completephysical copy of one of the existing ones.

site cloning dotcms.jpg

Site Cloning in dotCMS

Nowadays, anyorganization of a decent size needs to be able to manage multiple sites,which may have different look-and-feels; yet, at the same time, be ableto re-use and share content across multiple domains.

WithdotCMS, some multi-site capabilities were available in previousversions, for example 1.7, but the UI was not set up to handle multiplehosts. It was not possible to apply permissions on the host-per-hostbasis.

We think there’s still some work cut out for dotCMS withthis feature, as it is not easy at this point to, for example, sync thesites when new content has been added to site X and you want to inheritand re-use it in the already cloned site B.

New UI

The dotCMS UI has been completely rebuilt using a mix of Dojo and AJAX.

dotcms 1.9 gui.jpg

dotcms 1.9 GUI

Again,appealing to less technical users, dotCMS – while keeping the samecontent management processes and nomenclatures to alleviate the pain ofrelearning a CMS for the existing customers – is trying to provide theease of use with the tabularized UI, which can be customized.

Scripting Support

Whatused to be a plug-in before is now a full product feature in dotCMS1.9. The Web CMS supports PHP, Groovy, Python and Ruby – turning the CMSinto a development platform for developers, who are masters inlanguages other than Java. But still, everything runs on top of Javawithin JVM, each scripting language has an interpreter written in Java-- allowing for virtualization, scalability and clusterability.

Learning Opportunities

Thevendor says the choice of languages to support was rather easy, withthe popular PHP as a no-brainer. But .NET or ASP, for example, are notsupported, despite the rising popularity of .NET Web CMSs, as wasidentified in the recent research. Will Ezell, CTO, commented that theytried .NET support, but decided not to include that in the release,although supporting ASP may sound like an interesting idea to thinkabout in the future.

Standards, Integrations and Richer Content Types

As promised, dotCMSin this release also supports CMIS 1.0, in addition to JSON, RSS andWeb Services, allowing users to integrate content within the CMS withcontent stored in other content repositories.

Richer content typeswere implemented as part of the starter site package, giving users theability to create various types of content, e.g. a blog entry, as acomplement to the existing content modeling abilities from the previousversions.

A small (but nice to have) new feature called SUDO Loginallows administrators to log in under different types of system users in orderto see the UI of other users, or check whether the security model andpermissions have been implemented correctly.

Form Builder

Weall use web forms, and dotCMS 1.9 developers and even non-techies cannow create various web forms using a widget that has drop-down menus, soyou can specify fields for different types of content (binaries,fields, dates, etc.) in one interface.

Changes in the Licensing Model

dotCMS comes in the following licensing flavors:

  • Community Edition under GPL 2.0
  • Three Enterprise Editions - Standard, Pro and Prime.

AllEnterprise versions come under the new dotCMS Open License, which givescustomers maintenance warranty, access to the source code and freesthem of the requirement to commit any code changes back to thecommunity. This goes somewhat against the free-sharing spirit of opensource, but may come in handy for those organizations that need toprotect their intellectual property.

Enterprise Prime edition also has a wider database support, including Oracle, MS SQL, PostgreSQL and DB2.

You can play with dotCMS 1.9 right away, as well as check out the Enterprise Prime edition via a 90-day free trial.