The future of Content Management and Sense/Net

Julian Wraith recently started a debate on the future of content managementDarren Ferguson attacked the question from a different angle listing real-world vendor issues that need to be fixed before moving forward. He also encouraged vendors to evaluate themselves to see what issues they need to work on. Here is the list and how Sense/Net 6.0 deals with these issues.

I want to access your CMS with my browser but I can't because I use Firefox and you only support IE. YES - Sense/Net 6.0 supports all major modern browsers.
I want to roll out your CMS within my organisation, I have to migrate all of my users to be stored in a database table in a custom schema defined by your CMS. SORT OF - Sense/Net 6.0 supports Windows Authentication and Active Directory syncronization is on its way. Users need to be stored in the CMS for optimal permission handling performance, we simply need at least IDs of users, and we also need to store special metadata for different apps. The sync will be automatic and transparent. Version 5.5 supported this, in version 6.0 we simply have not completed this module yet in Beta 4.
I'm trying to define the layout for a web page using your CMS but your templating language is completely bespoke and not based on any standards. YES - Templating is based on HTML and ASP.NET Masterpages and Web Parts - all of which are industry standards. If you understand HTML Page templates speak for themselves, see the wiki article on creating Page Templates.
I've managed to render a webpage using your CMS but you seem to have added loads of extra div tags all of which have CSS classes named "crapvendor". YES - Only one div is added per portlet with an "sn" class prefix for theming purposes - so that your designers can easily customize the site. You can have this prefix changed at any time though or even removed if you do not need it. The DIVs are valid XHTML and all have nice classes, much better that the default ASP.NET Webpart HTML. Beleive me, the "sn" is not for branding purposes, but for namespacing. :-)
I'm trying to use your WYSIWYG editor but apparently I need to install an ActiveX component. YES - Sense/Net uses the TinyMCE WYSIWYG editor which runs on all major browsers without having to install anything.
I've entered some standards compliant markup into your WYSIWYG editor using the "source view" and it has "corrected it". YES - Our TinyMCE editor copes with all standards compliant markup. Should there be any problems the fix is bound to come out in a few hours at is open source and continously developed just as Sense/Net 6.0
Your CMS doesn't understand the extended character set of my source document but when I paste from this document it happily saves these characters to the repository anyway - as question marks. YES - Sense/Net uses UTF-8 coding both on client and on server side meaning it can cope with all characters from Hungarian to Chinese.
I want to import an image into your CMS - this requires a java applet. (In fact any java applets for any purpose = bad IMHO) YES - No java applets in Sense/Net 6.0. Images are uploaded via a Flash upload component enabling upload of multiple images at the same time. It would be nice to have multiple binary upload support in the HTML standard, but there's no such thing - Flash is considered quite a standard these days.
I've entered a summary of my content, now I have to manually enter keywords too. NO - As of now you do have to enter keywords manually and this will stay like this on the short term. On the longer run we are planning to integrate a keyword generating algorithm on the client side. But beware: automatic keyword generation can easily be a trap generating frequent, but non revelant keywords from an article. SEO is painstaking manual work most of the time which is not easy to efficiently automate.
I'm performng an operation that takes some time, the status screen is of the "white" and "blank" variety. YES - No blank screens. The backend of Sense/Net 6.0, the Content Explorer is a rich AJAX application. Even if an error would occur, you would be notfied in a popup dialog (not a popup window) with error details. The user experience is designed to be continous in Sense/Net 6.0. 
I've had it with your browser GUI. I want to use Livewriter but no API exists for me to implement support. YES - Our GUI in the Content Explorer is a lightweight ExtJS application using REST calls. So if you wanted to, you could create your own GUI on top of that. You can also access the API directly from any .NET application, such as from PowerShell.
I've finally managed to create something as complex as a webpage, now for the 20 step process to publish it. (Admittedly normally a limitation of the implementation rather than the CMS). YES - The publishing process in Sense/Net is a really simple process: preview the changes and click on Publish or Undo Checkout with the Portal Remote Control.
I've negotiated above process and the URL of my new page is /index.php/news/12042984626492732?ver=8.0&this=sucks YES - Sense/Net uses readable, user friendly URLs e.g. which represent the structure stored in the Sense/Net Content Repository. The URL you get will look like this: and you can point to all kinds of contents using SmartApps.
I want to assemble a list of all recent news items in the CMS, this is half a day of development. YES - Developing this feature takes approx. 20 minutes. Create a Content Query and a Query Content View visualising the results. Of course the development takes even less time if you use the news list example that ships with Sense/Net 6.0.
My site relies heavily on user generated content. I need to set up a cron job in order to get this user generated content back into your CMS. YES - Sense/Net currently runs on Windows where you can set scheduled tasks. Actually a client of ours already uses this approach to import external, user generated data in the CMS.
You believe that "your way" of versioning content is better than SVN/Git/Sourcesafe. YES - We support major versioningmajor and minor versioning or you can even turn versioning off. However, should these approaches not fit your need, you can implement your own versioning as well - we are open source, after all.
Your support engineer just provided a configuration setting to fix an issues. When I ask where this setting is documented I am told "it isn't". YES - The product is well documented on the Sense/Net 6.0 wiki and this documentation is continously updated. If you are a developer you'll be happy to hear that the API documentation is available online as well. And of course, you can always contribute to the Wiki... ;-)
The same serious defect has existed in your software for over 5 years. I personally have reported it on more than 5 occasions each time I am told to disable the component in question. YES - We take bug reports seriously. If you find a bug, report it in the Sense/Net community forum as many others have done so. We try to resolve bugs as soon as possible, usually in the next release. There are priorities, naturally - the more people ask for a bugfix, the sonner it gets fixed.


Based on the list above it is safe to say that Sense/Net barely has any serious CMS vendor issues that have been upsetting customers throughout the years. We beleive we are building an Enterprise CMS that is already a system that is safe to be listed among the next generation of CMS sytems.

Of course it is not us, but you, the end user, developer or customer who will decide if Sense/Net is your platform to build on. Downloadinstall, use our open source product and let us know your thoughts and what you are missing. We are open to all comments, share them with us on our community forum.


Comments (1) -

Darren Ferguson
8/4/2009 10:06:11 AM #

Hi Orosz,

Interesting to see some replies to my points! Am hoping to find the time to have a look at your system at some point soon. Do you have a live demo anywhere?

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