This past month was a busy month of Orchard Website Upgrades. I just finished my 14th Orchard CMS 1.8.1 Website Upgrade since Orchard 1.8.1 was just released in July. Tomorrow I start another website upgrade. I had the whole range of Orchard Websites that needed to be upgraded. I had a few websites that were as far back as Orchard 1.4. I had several Orchard Websites that needed custom modules re-written to work correctly as well as optimized for Orchard 1.8.x. I had one Orchard Website that was much easier to start from scratch and import the existing data than perform an actual upgrade. It was an interesting month, and there is nothing like a bunch of upgrades to keep an Orchard Developer on his toes.
Earlier I mentioned developing websites with Statamic, a flat-file PHP-based CMS. I also mentioned a couple of Statamic Add-Ons, Raven Forms and Bloodhound Search, that are purchased separately from Statamic. Although I'd prefer it be bundled with Statamic, Raven Forms is an extremely easy-to-use forms solution for Statamic websites that allows you to use your own custom form markup, declare formsets declaratively via a YAML configuration file, capture form data as flat-files, email form data, neutralize spam via Akismet, and review and manage form submissions using a custom control panel complete with metrics and statistics.
Statamic CMS is a flat-file CMS based on PHP that I have been using to develop smaller, marketing websites. I haven't mentioned it here until now only because I wanted to develop a handful of production websites using Statamic before giving my opinion on it. In short, I absolutely love Statamic. It is very easy to create 1) Statamic Themes, 2) functionality on your website for blog posts, portfolios, product catalogs, and other content types in your Statamic Website, and 3) various Statamic Add-Ons and Extensions to further extend Statamic and offer reusable functionality. As an Orchard CMS Developer, it is not a replacement for Orchard CMS, but an alternative to Orchard CMS for those websites that can benefit from the simplicity of Statamic.
Orchard 1.8.1 was released last week and includes a lot of bug fixes for Orchard 1.8. Unless my clients were experiencing Orchard performance issues or needed a new feature in Orchard 1.8, I recommended they skip Orchard CMS 1.8 and wait for the first maintenenace release 1.8.1 before upgrading their Orchard Website. With the release of Orchard 1.8.1 I have now started upgrading client websites to Orchard 1.8.1. All of the same gotchas for upgrading to Orchard CMS 1.8.1 are the same for upgrading to Orchard 1.8. Most importantly, make sure you assign the site owner to the administrator role before upgrading to Orchard 1.8.x.
My daughter and I have been learning Python since this past Thanksgiving where we spent the week reading Practical Python Using Python 3. Since then we have been incorporating Python into our daily development, but mainly for desktop applications and utlities. Recently we've been wanting to build websites and web applications using Python. We decided to get started using a new book from O'Reilly as part of the O'Reilly Blogger Program, Flask Web Development, Developing Web Applications with Python.
Orchard Blogs has a new blog posts per page feature allowing you to adjust the number of Orchard Blog Posts per page separate from the site items per page feature. This new feature is in addition to another new feature I mentioned in my previous blog post: easily add Feedburner URL's to Orchard CMS via the RSS Feed Proxy URL Setting. Stay up-to-date on new Orchard CMS Features by subscribing to my Orchard blog, reading my Orchard Tutorials, or following me on Twitter and Google+.
Orchard blogs hasn't had good support for adding Feedburner URLs in replace of its own RSS Feed URLs. In the past I have used my own custom Feedburner Orchard Module and there is probably a module or two on the Orchard Gallery that do the same thing. Using an RSS feed proxy, like Feedburner, is a common practice for blogs, so it's nice to see this feature in new versions of Orchard CMS. Here is a quick Orchard Tutorial showing you the new Feed Proxy Url option when configuring and creating your new blog in Orchard CMS. In my case, I will be adding my RSS Feed Proxy URL for Feedburner: http://feeds.feedburner.com/davehayden.
Before you upgrade your Orchard Website to Orchard 1.8, I recommend you read the Orchard 1.8 Release Notes. There are some steps formatted in BOLD that clearly state you must assign the Administrator Role to your Orchard Super User Account before performing the upgrade. If you don't, you will get locked out of the dashboard and have to either 1) re-do the 1.8 upgrade again after performing the step or 2) gain access to the Orchard database and do a bit of manual hacking.
The Orchard Jobs Queue in Orchard 1.8 can be used to send email asynchronously. This is especially useful when sending email from custom forms that are submitted on your Orchard Website via Orchard Workflow. Enabling email to use the new Jobs Queue is as simple as selecting a Queued option in your Send Email Workflow Activity.