Orchard 1.4 was released the other day and has some very important features as well as a lot of bug fixes and performance enhancements. It also comes with some breaking changes that will make upgrading to Orchard 1.4 a bit more effort. Since the Orchard 1.4 release notes just don't capture the coolness of this release, I thought I would play Orchard Developer Evangelist for a day and provide much more detail and context around the new features in Orchard 1.4 and why now is a great time to learn more about this ASP.NET MVC Content Management System ( CMS ).
The main new features in Orchard 1.4 include Autoroute and Alias, Projector Module, and new Fields.
Autoroute and Alias in Orchard 1.4
For a more detailed look at the Autoroute Part in Orchard, please see my tutorial: Autoroute Custom Patterns and Route Regeneration in Orchard 1.4.
In a nutshell, routing in Orchard has completely changed. The Route Part is gone and now two content parts take it's place: Autoroute Part and Title Part. The Autoroute Part is responsible for slug ( alias ) generation and the Title Part handles the Title. So for every routable Content Type in Orchard you will now find the Autoroute and Title Parts attached to them. Here is an example of a Title Part and Autoroute Part attached to a Blog Post Content Type.
What we used to call a slug generated by the Route Part is now an Alias in Orchard 1.4, but I interchange the terms quite a bit. The Alias is just a path into the Orchard Website and it maps to an Area, Controller, Action, and parameters that make up an ASP.NET MVC Route. The best way to see the mapping between Alias and Route is to enable the Alias UI Module and take a peek at each alias in the website.
Go in there and add, edit, and delete the various Aliases in a play Orchard Website. When you truly get to know the Autoroute and Alias you realize just how powerful and important this new routing mechanism is in Orchard. It's well worth the breaking change.
Yep. The change from Route Part to Autoroute and Title Parts comes with a small price. The upgrade from previous versions of Orchard to Orchard 1.4 will require you to run a module that essentially loops through the contents of your website replacing Route Parts with Autoroute and Title Parts.
Check your Modules and look for the mysterious UpgradeTo14 Module. Sounds ominous.
Definitely backup your website and database before attempting the upgrade to Orchard 1.4. I've upgraded three Orchard Websites to Orchard 1.4 and have quite a few more on my list.
Again, for more information on Autoroute, please see my tutorial: Autoroute Custom Patterns and Route Regeneration in Orchard 1.4.
Projector Module in Orchard 1.4
For more detailed information on the Projector Module, see:
The Projector Module is a Module Killer! It allows us Orchard Web Developers to provide functionality in Orchard Websites that once required us to create a custom module. The Projector Module allows you to query the contents of your Orchard Database and project that information onto your Orchard Website in the form of pages or widgets. You specify the content items to query, the filters, the sorting rules, and the layout, and in minutes you have yourself a pageable list of items that can be displayed on a standalone page or as a widget embedded in a page.
Harnessing this awesome functionality is a quick two-step process. First, create a query. Here I have created a Current Events Query that queries the current events in my Orchard Website sorted by Start Date.
Second, create a projection based on this query. In the Projection just specify the query along with any needs you have for paging, etc. The same can be done with the Projection Widget, but you can try that out yourself.
For more information on the Projector Module, check out my Projector Module Tutorials.
New Fields in Orchard 1.4
As an Orchard Web Developer or Administrator you have the ability to attach fields to Content Types. In previous versions of Orchard you just had the Text Field as a built-in field type and you had to search the Orchard Gallery or build your own fields if you wanted DateTime, Checkboxes, and other basic fields to attach to your Content Types. In Orchard 1.4 you now have a pretty decent collection of built-in fields and I am sure this list will grow and grow with new releases of Orchard. New fields include: boolean, date time, enumeration, input, link, media picker, numeric, and text field. These are now included in Orchard via the Fields Module.
Performance Enhancements and Bug Fixes in Orchard 1.4
Above are the main new features in Orchard 1.4, but there have been a lot of bug fixes and performance ehancements, too.
I'm not going to cite anything specific, but there was also a lot of work done on fixing bugs and enhancing the performance of Orchard 1.4. There is a team focused on Orchard performance and based on my personal opinion having upgraded 3 websites to Orchard 1.4 ( you're looking at one ), Orchard just feels noticeably faster. I have heard others mention a reduction in the number of queries, ehancements in caching, and just improvements in the way Orchard executes. If you have been concerned about the performance of Orchard in the past, this is probably an ideal time to take another look.
I think that pretty much hits the highlights for Orchard 1.4 and hopefully this blog post provides more detail and context around the new features.
Check out my other Orchard Tutorials.