I have been developing Orchard Websites, Themes, and Modules full-time ever since Orchard was released as 1.0. During that time I have developed a fondness for ASP.NET MVC Content Management Systems and wanted to try my luck with Umbraco 5, which is soon to be released and also uses ASP.NET MVC and Razor as the underlying technologies. Over the past month I have been spending my evenings learning how to develop Umbraco 5 Websites and Packages and thought I would slowly start to post about Umbraco 5 just as much as I post about Orchard CMS. Albeit there are lots of great resources on Umbraco Web Development, but I hope my posts will provide a little insight on how it compares to Orchard, too. As I continue to write Umbraco 5 Tutorials I will take care in showing how it compares to Orchard and the strengths and weaknesses of both.

About Umbraco 5

Update 6/23/2012: Go ahead and disregard this post. Umbraco has decided to pull the plug on Umbraco 5, because after 2 years of development and 4 months in production they decided it was too slow and complex ( even after charging developers for expensive Umbraco 5 certification... ouch ). If you are interested in a really good ASP.NET MVC CMS using Razor, join us Orchard CMS Developers. I have been developing Orchard Websites, Orchard Themes, and Orchard Modules full-time for over a year and loving it. For those that really want to see Umbraco 5 happen, you may be interested in Rebel CMS, which plans to take the Umbraco 5 Source Code and turn it into something useful. Best of luck!

In my opinion this is the perfect time to learn Umbraco if you are an ASP.NET MVC Developer or Orchard Web Developer. The "old" Umbraco 4 is based on WebForms and XSLT. No offense to Umbraco Web Developers who have come to love Umbraco 4 and its underlying technologies, but I am just not interested in WebForms and XSLT. I have been developing custom ASP.NET MVC Web Application since ASP.NET MVC was still in Alpha and never looked back. Umbraco 5, which has apparently been in development for 2.5 years, has replaced WebForms and XSLT with the new and improved ASP.NET MVC and Razor View Engine! I, for one, am very happy with this decision and would have never even considered looking at Umbraco 5 if it hadn't switched to ASP.NET MVC and Razor.

Another reason for learning Umbraco 5 now is because after 2.5 years of development it is currently at Umbraco 5 RC 3! Umbraco 5 is about to be released and the best time to learn it is when it is stable, just about feature complete, and a month or two right before release. If you are an ASP.NET MVC Developer and interested in a CMS for website development, now is a really good time to start learning Umbraco 5.

Umbraco 5 Release Schedule

Installing Umbraco 5 with Microsoft WebMatrix and Web Gallery

Ideally when Umbraco 5 is released you will be installing it via Microsoft WebMatrix and the Web Gallery just like when installing Orchard using Microsoft WebMatrix. Right now Umbraco 5 is not available via the WebMatrix Web Gallery ( only Umbraco 4 ), but when it is it will be as simple as choosing the Umbraco CMS Logo and specifying a Site Name. Installing Umbraco 5 or any package just doesn't get any easier than using the WebMatrix Web Gallery.

Installing Umbraco 5 with Microsoft WebMatrix and Web Gallery

Until Umbraco 5 makes it on the WebMatrix Web Gallery you will have to manually download it as a Zip File from the Umbraco CodePlex Site, install it into a directory, and then bring it up in Microsoft WebMatrix. As I mentioned, Umbraco 5 is currently at RC3 so this is the Umbraco Web Application Installer Package you will currently find on CodePlex until a new version is released.

Download Umbraco 5 manually from CodePlex

Once you have downloaded Umbraco 5 on your development PC you can open it with WebMatrix to complete the installation process and develop your first Umbraco Website. WebMatrix is also great at managing SQL CE 4 Databases and that is the database I recommend choosing the first time you run through the installation process when learning Umbraco.

Developing Umbraco 5 Website using WebMatrix

When you click Run for the first time Umbraco will notice that you have not gone through the installation process yet and provide a link to walk through the installation of Umbraco step-by-step. The process is not quite as easy as the one page installation process for Orchard that allows you to choose the admin logon, database installation type, and installation of a recipe all at one time, but the process of installing Umbraco is incredibly easy just the same.

Umbraco 5 Installation Screen

Click on the Install Umbraco link to display the installation welcome screen.

Umbraco 5 Welcome Installation Screen

Click on the Let's get started! button to begin the installation of Umbraco!

Umbraco 5 Supports SQL CE 4 Database Just Like Orchard CMS

The first task involved in installing Umbraco is specifying a database. Just like with Orchard, Umbraco supports SQL CE 4 as a database. SQL CE 4 works exceptionally well for small websites and SQL CE 4 has great support in Microsoft WebMatrix. You can also migrate SQL CE 4 to SQL Server using WebMatrix. If you're just learning Umbraco 5, I recommend choosing SQL CE 4 as your database.

SQL CE 4 Database and Umbraco 5

Installing Starter Kit with Umbraco 5 Similar to Orchard Recipe

Once you have configured the database with Umbraco you have the option of installing a starter kit, which is just a bundle of Umbraco assets to jump start your learning and website development with Umbraco. It contains document types, templates, content items, and various other assets to help you familiarize yourself with Umbraco Website Development. I recommend installing Umbraco with and without the Starter Kit so you can see the differences. It is easier to learn with the Starter Kit, but you should also be familiar with a barebones installation of Umbraco 5.

For those familiar with installing Orchard CMS, the Starter Kit in Umbraco is like an Orchard Recipe. It helps make you a more productive web developer by including various assets and configuration settings in your Umbraco or Orchard Website upon installation. As you begin to develop more and more Umbraco and Orchard Websites you will want to take advantage of Starter Kits and Recipes.

Umbraco 5 Starter Kit Like Orchard Recipe

Umbraco 5 Website Installation Complete

Once you have configured the Umbraco Database and chosen to install or not install a Starter Kit, the installation of your Umbraco Website is complete. You can choose either to preview the website or log into the backend as an administrator.

Umbraco 5 Website Installation Complete

Previewing your website will look drastically different if you have chosen to install the Starter Kit, which adds a number of pages to your Umbraco Website. Below is a snapshot of the Umbraco 5 homepage if you chose to install the Starter Kit.

Umbraco 5 Website Homepage

And, of course, you can also log into your new Umbraco Website as the administrator to continue the configuration and administration of the website.

Umbraco 5 Website Admin Logon Screen

Administer and Manage Umbraco 5 Website

Umbraco Website Administration is quite a bit different than Orchard Website Administration. I'll talk about this in more detail later in future blog posts, but if you have installed Umbraco 5 and the Starter Kit you will find default pages, templates, and other assets already configured for you. From here you can begin to add new website pages, change existing content, modify page templates, etc. as you learn Umbraco 5 Web Development.

Umbraco 5 Website Administration


If you are new to Umbraco and/or an Orchard Web Developer, hopefully this tutorial on installing Umbraco 5 has provided some value. I know I have enjoyed learning Umbraco over the past couple of months and how it compares to Orchard. I still have a lot to learn about Umbraco, but I'll be diving into much more detail and development of Umbraco 5 and how it compares to Orchard in future blog posts.

This is the first of a number of Umbraco 5 Tutorials. Stay tuned!