This is our first post here since our adoption of cloudscribe from Joe Audette! And it's to let people know we're starting the upgrade of all cloudscribe components to .NET 5. This is a significant upgrade, so we expect it to take a few weeks, and we'll post again when it's complete.

Find out more about .NET 5 here, and the list of breaking changes we will have to look out for!

Side by side with this work, for release shortly afterwards if everything goes to plan, we'll be working on a new Bootstrap 5 presentation layer, that will then become the default for a new cloudscribe project built using our Visual Studio project template

We should probably also mention some of the improvements we've made to cloudscribe:-

  • SimpleContent now has more sophisticated handling of versions and drafts, especially when using Content Templates.
  • We gave the TalkAbout Forums product a bit of a makeover, fixed lots of bugs, and added a configurable file upload capability.
  • When using multi-tenancy we added a new mode to help administrators, called "RootUserCanSignInToTenants Mode"  - see the documentation for more details.
  • We've fixed NoDB bugs that prevented using markdown.
  • We improved the registration page experience and fixed a bug that could cause hangs.
  • And we've fixed a load of other niggles and made lots of small improvements thanks to the feedback from cloudscribe users. Please do post in our Forums, comment on any of our documentation pages, or post issues in the various cloudscribe component GitHub repositories!

And of course we've been using cloudscribe components to build some great new applications for clients, such as the York Historic Environment Record. They love that their projects are built on a fully open source stack, and using cloudscribe means we can focus our effort on what's unique about their requirements and deliver best value. If you'd like help building an application on cloudscribe, please feel free to contact us.

City or York Historic Environment Record website, built with cloudscribe

Wow, it has been 11 months since my last blog post. Time flies, and a lot has been accomplished in that time. I really should have been blogging about various things along the way, but today I will try to provide a summary of news and progress for cloudscribe.

Open Source Improvements

Dynamic Authorization Policies is a new open source project from cloudscribe that started life as an add on product but was recently made open source on github. It allows you to manage ASP.NET Core authorization policy requirements from the UI. cloudscribe Core always provided management of user role membership and custom claims, but typically authorization policies are coded up in startup code which means that in order to change them you have to change the code, build, and redeploy your application. So you could create new roles from the cloudscribe core UI but you could not use the new role in a policy without going through build and deploy steps. Dynamic Authorization Policies lets you manage policies from the UI and therefore provides the final piece of the puzzle for managing access to your site content and features.

cloudscribe Core has some new improvements, including support for LDAP authentication, this work was sponsored by Exegesis Spatial Data Management. We also added an option to force only one web browser session per user, and an option to require 2 factor authentication.

PwaKit is a new open source project that facilitates building progressive web apps that work offline and support push notification. This work was sponsored by our friends at Exegesis Spatial Data Management.

A whole new way of doing localized content has been implemented in SimpleContent but needs documentation and a sample project. There is a github issue about it here and it was sponsored by Domain Integrators.

Commercial Products

In addition to our open source progress, we've also shipped several commercial add on features.

cloudscribe Forms and Surveys Solution provides a super user friendly drag and drop form designer, and provides a content template for SimpleContent that allows you to put a form/survey on content pages. This youtube video gives a tour of the product.

cloudscribe "TalkAbout" Comment System provides a self hosted GDPR friendly alternative to 3rd party comment systems such as Disqus. If you use a free service chances are that you and your web visitors are the product. Such services add numerous 3rd party tracking cookies and collect data about you and your users for their own purposes. All these extra tracking cookies complicate your ability to meet GDPR requirements. By using a self hosted comment system instead you can avoid all those 3rd party tracking cookies and more easily achieve GDPR compliance.

cloudscribe "TalkAbout" Forums provides a self hosted, GDPR friendly question and answer style forum to help you build a community. We just launched our Community Support Forum recently using this.

cloudscribe Membership Paywall provides the tools you need to monetize your premium content. You protect your premium content with roles, and users who purchase membership get automatically granted the needed roles to access your content and automatically removed from the roles if their membership expires. It provides automatic membership renewal using stripe for payment processing.

All of our add on products are free to try, and are included in our latest project template for Visual Studio, so you can easily create web apps with the nuget packages for these features all wired up for you. They do have some nag alerts that are shown every few web requests, by purchasing a license file you can remove the nag alerts.

cloudscribe project template for Visual Studio

The latest version of cloudscribe SimpleContent has a great new set of features powered by the new content template system. Content templates make it easy to edit content and have advanced layouts without much risk that the user can mess up the intended layout. Content templates work with both pages and blog posts. You can easily develop your own custom content templates as well, see the developer documentation for content templates to learn more.

A Nice Set of Content Templates in the Box

We've included a set of nice content templates that add new features including:

  • An Image Gallery with easy drag, drop, and crop. You get an optional content section above and below the gallery. There are 6 gallery layouts to choose from, cards, grid, and compact layouts use a nice lightbox to show the full size image when the thumbnail is clicked. The other 3 layouts use boostrap carousel, either full width, or floated left or right so content wraps around the carousel.
  • 1 to 4 section template with an image for each section and several layouts to choose from. It can be equal width responsive columns or sections with images floated to alternate sides.
  • 2 column layout template with either the right or left column wider.
  • A Bing map centered on an address you provide, with optional content above and below the map. Users can also get driving directions to the address.
  • A list of links with title, and optional image and description per link
  • Image floated left or right with content wrapping the image

Easy Publishing Workflow with Edit history

There is also a new easy publishing workflow for drafting and publishing new content and changes to existing content.

screen shot of publish buttons

New content will not appear to non-editors until published. You can draft changes to already published content without impacting the currently published version. A history of all edits is kept and previous versions can easily be restored to the editor. This works for standard content and for content based on content templates.

Try It Out Yourself!

If you are new to cloudscribe SimpleContent, now is a great time to give it a try, we think it is the most user friendly open source content system available. See the introduction to get started.

Thanks to our Sponsors!

Huge thanks goes out to exeGesIS Spatial Data Management for sponsoring the development effort to build the content template system as well as the new draft publishing workflow with history of every edit and ability to restore previous versions to the editor. These were major improvements that make SimpleContent truly easy to use even for non-technical people.

As the end of 2017 draws near, it is good to look back at how the cloudscribe set of projects is doing. It has been a busy and productive year with continuous improvements across the cloudscribe projects and documentation along with growing adoption. We end the year with 530 stars for cloudscribe core on GitHub, over 328K downloads in aggregate across the 100 packages that make up the cloudscribe ecosystem. There are almost 1600 installs of our project template for Visual Studio and our analytics show about 29 projects are being created per day with cloudscribe libraries.

I would like to thank everyone in the community for providing feedback, bug reports, and for helping to spread the word to other developers. It has been a pretty good year especially considering that we don't have any marketing budget at all so people have found cloudscribe mainly from github, by word of mouth, from this website, and from a few occasional tweets and blog posts. With your help in spreading the word I think 2018 will be a even better! 

We've been making a lot of improvements to our project template sine the initial version. Most recently we added some options for advanced client side development using webpack with bootstrap-sass. This new demo video provides a guided tour.