Sitefinity CMS v3.6

Telerik has just rolled out the latest version of Sitefinity, their light weight ASP.NET web content management system.

In version 3.6 of Sitefinity CMS developers will see a new backend architecture and a new API for improved extensibility. On top of this there is a number of other cool enhancements that made us dizzy with excitement. According to the company, the goal of 3.6 is to "empower developers to tweak every aspect of the core system." We'd say they're getting close. Let's take a peek.

The Evolution of Sitefinity CMS

Unveiled back in 2005, Sitefinity and Telerik strive to find a unique balance with developer friendliness in the ASP.NET environment.  In the revamped Sitefinity 3.0, we saw a number of powerful ASP.NET 2.0 platform features such as master pages, membership services and the data provider model. It also supports an array of database systems.

Note that in version 3.2, Sitefinity was updated with an Images and Documents Library Module, Events Module based on Telerik's RadScheduler component, and new Personalization functionality for CMS users (but not for website visitors).

Evolving further, version 3.6 comes on the heels of the recent release of v3.5 that focused on enhancing the overall performance of the CMS and additional AJAXy features.

The Slew of New Features in v3.6

New Backend and Modules

The sales pitch is more things are now “easier than ever” with new backend architecture. Creating custom modules and extending built-in modules has been simplified allowing developers to save time and effort when building new functionality for their projects with Sitefinity’s flexible ASP.NET-based content management platform.

New Sitefinity API

Sitefinity 3.6 also added a new API for developers to use and leverage the product’s extensible architecture. All enhancements are 100% backwards compatible with modules developed earlier.

Simplified Upgrades

To simplify upgrading from earlier product versions, Sitefinity 3.6 started including control templates as embedded resources. This should reduce the number of files included in Sitefinity and eliminate the risk that an upgrade suddenly overwrites your fancy customizations.

Integrating Video Libraries

This is a bit geeky. In addition to the developer customization capabilities, Sitefinity CMS v3.6 introduces a data provider for video libraries using Amazon's S3 web service for data storage and streaming.

This release also provides native integration with Telerik's Silverlight media player.

Better Content Categorization

The introduction of hierarchical categories in Sitefinity v3.6 allows better organization and structuring of the information on a website. The new feature, sounding almost taxonomical, allows customers to implement hierarchy on categories, where one category can be a parent of one or more child categories.

Dynamic Link Management

As if all of the above wasn’t enough, hold on to your knickers, there's more. The CMS core now manages links dynamically. Content managers can now safely re-organize a website's structure of pages without breaking existing (publicly indexed) URLs.

Still More Features to Aid Developers

Oh, and there’s also the newest release of RadControls for ASP.NET AJAX, support for .NET 3.5 framework and more in Sitefinity 3.6.

“The CMS market is saturated with over-featured complex solutions that freeze developers’ skills and limit their freedom when building applications”, says Telerik CEO Vassil Terziev. “With version 3.6 of Sitefinity CMS Telerik further empowers developers to tweak every aspect of its core system and add new functionality faster and easier than ever”.

How to Get the New Sitefinity CMS 3.6

Sitefinity is available via one of two license options:

  1. Community Edition is free, but as you'd expect, it is also stripped-down in terms of features. This version is most appropriate for small websites that don’t need enterprise features such as workflow, versioning and multilingual support. This version has community support only.
  2. Standard Edition goes for US$ 899.00 per domain, including support and one year subscription for an unlimited number of developers. You can purchase online or if you want to dig into the differences in versions, check out the feature comparison chart.

More to Come from Sitefinity CMS

Telerik clearly has quick development cycles. As their product roadmap demonstrates, the upcoming v4 will bring even more feature challenges to the web content management landscape.

Integration with Windows Workflow Foundation, Automator Service, Silverlight support -- already somewhat present in 3.6 -- and Browse-and-Edit features are just hints of what’s in store.

With competitors like Kentico and Umbraco also pushing out interesting updates, we're thinking 2009 is going to be the year of the light but effective ASP.NET Web CMS.