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.

I am very happy to announce the availability of project templates that make it much easier to start new projects using cloudscribe components. Specifically, we have a new VSIX extension that provides a project template for Visual Studio 2017 and a NuGet package the provides a project template for the dotnet new command.

Previously, copying a project from the cloudscribe Starter Kits was the best way to get started with a new cloudscribe project, but now with the new project templates you can create projects with configurations that correspond to the different starter kit project configurations simply by using the available project template parameters. See the document "Introduction to cloudscribe" for more details.

Starting New Projects in Visual Studio

You can download the Visual Studio 2017 extension for free from the Visual Studio Marketplace, or from directly within Visual Studio, under Tools > Extensions and Updates > Online

If you download it from the marketplace you need to double click the .vsix file to install it. In both cases you have to restart Visual Studio for it to become available, then you will see a new cloudscribe project template under C# > Web in the new project dialog.

When you create a new cloudscribe project, another small dialog window will appear to let you choose which data storage platform and which cloudscribe features you want.

Starting New Projects with the .NET CLI (Command Line Interface)

The .NET CLI can be used on Windows, Linux, or macOS. You can install the cloudscribe project template NuGet package with this command:

dotnet new -i "cloudscribe.templates::*"

If you later wish to uninstall it, you can use this command:

dotnet new -u cloudscribe

Once you have the cloudscribe project template installed you should enter the following command to see the available parameters that you can pass to the template in order to choose which data storage platform to use and which features to install:

PS C:\_c\scratch> dotnet new cloudscribe --help
Usage: new [options]

  -h, --help          Displays help for this command.
  -l, --list          Lists templates containing the specified name. If no name is specified, lists all templates.
  -n, --name          The name for the output being created. If no name is specified, the name of the current directory is used.
  -o, --output        Location to place the generated output.
  -i, --install       Installs a source or a template pack.
  -u, --uninstall     Uninstalls a source or a template pack.
  --type              Filters templates based on available types. Predefined values are "project", "item" or "other".
  --force             Forces content to be generated even if it would change existing files.
  -lang, --language   Specifies the language of the template to create.

cloudscribe web project template (C#)
Author: Joe Audette
  -T|--Title                  The name of the project which determines the assembly product name.
                              string - Optional
                              Default: Project Title

  -S|--SimpleContent          Include cloudscribe SimpleContent blog and content engine.
                              bool - Optional
                              Default: true

  -C|--ContactForm            Include cloudscribe SimpleContactForm.
                              bool - Optional
                              Default: false

  -K|--KvpCustomRegistration  Include cloudscribe key/value pair custom registration.
                              bool - Optional
                              Default: false

  -I|--IdentityServer         Include IdentityServer4 (fork) integration.
                              bool - Optional
                              Default: false

  -L|--Logging                Include cloudscribe logging and log viewer UI.
                              bool - Optional
                              Default: true

  -D|--DataStorage            The data storage platform you wish to use.
                                  NoDb     - A no-database file system storage
                                  MSSQL    - Microsoft SqlServer storage using Entity Framework Core
                                  pgsql    - PostgreSql storage using Entity Framework Core
                                  MySql    - MySql storage using Entity Framework Core
                              Default: MSSQL

  -H|--HttpsPort              Port number to use to configure SSL in launchSettings.json.
                              integer - Optional

  -Ke|--KestrelPort           Port number to use to configure Kestrel in launchSettings.json.
                              integer - Optional

  -II|--IISExpressPort        Port number to use to configure IIS Express in launchSettings.json.
                              integer - Optional

PS C:\_c\scratch>

As you can see this is much easier than cloning the starter kits repo and copying an existing project. You have full control over the project name and even more configurable options than what the starter kits provide.

I hope you will give the new project templates a try and provide feedback. It would be great if you could provide a review or rating of the Visual Studio extension on the marketplace site.

One thing cool that I have noticed is that the marketplace shows the number of installs, not the number of downloads, so the number goes down if people uninstall it. That gives us a real honest metric for how the extension is doing in terms of popularity over time.  The NuGet package for dotnet new shows download statistics. Note that the Visual Studio extension has the template embedded inside the vsix file so it doesn't affect the downloads from nuget, only installations from the CLI affect the nuget download numbers.

UPDATE 2017-09-26

Feedback on the project templates has been great and I have continued to improve it. Yesterday I released a new version (1.8) with even more configurable options for SimpleContent and also added an option to set the multi-tenant mode to either use folders, host names or just use a single tenant.

cloudscribe project template options