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Umbraco round-up seven recent noteworthy updates

  • By 3chillies

Umbraco is an excellent open-source content management system (CMS) that we often use for client projects. 3Chillies are proud to have been an Umbraco gold partner since 2016 and we continue to enjoy working with the platform as it expands and improves. In recent times there have been a number of measures that have helped Umbraco to compete with other CMSs and Digital Experience Platforms (DXPs), and the pace of change relating to Umbraco shows no signs of slowing. In this post we’re going to explore seven recent noteworthy updates on the platform.

Why do we enjoy working with Umbraco?

Umbraco at its heart is a CMS which is loved both by developers and marketing teams, although it is not a fully-fledged DXP. One of the reasons that developers love working with Umbraco is because is open-source, and there is a very active and well-supported global developer community. On the business side, digital marketing and content teams like Umbraco because the CMS is very easy to use, with an intuitive interface that is perhaps easier than some more complex DXPs.

Umbraco has also been looking to the future. In 2021 it received investment from Monterro – a firm who had previously invested in the Optimizely platform – and also stabilised its release schedule and cadence from Umbraco 9 onwards, which was based on .NET 5 (.NET Core). It also has a solid headless CMS offering called Umbraco Heartcore that is bundled with a Cloudflare CDN; this is helping the platform compete with other DXPs who are stressing their headless credentials.

With the future looking good for Umbraco, let’s look at seven recent Umbraco updates.

  1. Umbraco 11 is with us
  2. The last major Umbraco release – Umbraco 11 – was launched in late 2022. Behind the scenes, Umbraco 11 is based on .NET 7 which helps to enhance performance, and also makes life easier for developers. The release also comes with several new features, including:

    • A new “Block Grid Editor” that makes it easier for editors and content creators to support content structures and layouts that are built from “Blocks” with additional configuration options to add custom styling
    • A new revamped marketplace offering, which is covered in more detail below
    • Improved site architecture, with fewer dependencies between different site features
    • Improvements to Umbraco Forms.

    Since 11 was launched there have already been minor releases with Umbraco 11.1 and 11.2. The former focuses on a range of improvements including some for editors, while 11.2 is mainly concerned with improving stability and performance, with a range of bug fixes and tweaks to improve the user experience.

  3. The new marketplace is expanding and improving
  4. A direction of travel for the entire CMS and DXP space is supporting headless publishing and composable architecture, with vendors emphasising their credentials in being able to integrate and work nicely with other tools. To a certain extent because Umbraco is an open-source platform with a vibrant developer community and partner network, it has arguably always been a CMS inside a best-of-breed system with add-ons and connectors such as UMarketingSuite.

    It's no surprise therefore that Umbraco has overhauled its marketplace facility to better showcase all its connectors, packages, integrations and other add-ons, both from partners, but also the wider Umbraco community. This has continued to get some additional improvements to make it easier for developers and partners to establish their listing, and would be customers find offerings.

  5. Umbraco Workflow has launched to support better content management
  6. A new feature called Umbraco Workflow launched in late 2022, although to a certain extent this is a rebranding of a previous add-on called Umbraco Plumber. Umbraco Workflow helps bring tighter content management processes and related governance to the Umbraco platform and is particularly useful if you manage a devolved publishing community. It is likely to be of more interest to organisations with larger or more complex digital estates.

    As its branding hints, Umbraco Workflow helps deliver content workflows for reviewing and approving content, with the ability to add comments at each stage to provide context. Umbraco Workflow is quite flexible so you can set up specific workflows right down to the individual content level, set up specific approval groups and so on. Again, Umbraco Workflow helps to expand the capabilities of the CMS and bring it in line with other leading DXPs.

  7. There is continuing investment in headless
  8. As already noted, most CMS and DXP vendors are actively working to support headless publishing as it provides a more agile approach to digital customer experience that is well-suited to the reality of working across multiple channels. Umbraco Heartcore is Umbraco’s standard headless CMS product and there are various improvements to the Heartcore API on the roadmap that will improve performance.

    However, perhaps most significantly a new headless API is on the roadmap that will bring headless capabilities to the main Umbraco CMS. This should be part of Umbraco 12 and is earmarked for summer release; it will significantly widen opportunities to use Umbraco for headless publishing.

  9. Improvements to Umbraco documentation
  10. The importance of good user and technical support documentation is not always stated, but it can make a real difference to succeeding with a platform. Recently Umbraco have restructured their technical support documentation using a SaaS product called GitBook which also integrates with GitHub. Documentation is now structured across different products which makes it easier to navigate to what you need to see – a new search will also help. Documentation relating to upgrades has also been revamped. On a related note, Umbraco also have an active YouTube channel with instructional and learning content.

  11. There’s a new UK region for Umbraco Cloud
  12. Data residency is important for many organisations, particularly those in regulated industries such as financial services and the legal industry. Umbraco Cloud, the hosted option for the Umbraco CMS, previously introduced the option for US-based and EU-based regional hosting. In January Umbraco HQ also announced a UK region hosting option meaning that data from your Umbraco website can sit on UK servers, helping to meet compliance requirements relating to data residency. We think this will open up Umbraco Cloud as an option for more UK businesses.

  13. Support for Umbraco 7 is ending in September
  14. Understandably, Umbraco is keen to get as many teams using Umbraco 10 or 11 as possible to help organisations keep up with the roadmap which has gone through some fundamental changes from earlier versions. Umbraco 7 now faces end of life in September 2023, meaning that all support from Umbraco HQ will be withdrawn. Any digital agency will also not be able to support Umbraco 7 and you’re advised to start planning a migration now.

    Unfortunately there is no easy upgrade path from 7 to 11 due to fundamental differences in how they are structred, so for some this may be a significant project; however, it is also an excellent opportunity to change your design, expand CMS functionality, and deliver a range of other improvements from performance to SEO.

Want to get the best of Umbraco? Get in touch!

Umbraco continues to go from strength to strength with an active roadmap of improvements. If you’d like to speak to us about getting the very best out of Umbraco, then get in touch!

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