Umbraco 8 - a first look

Umbraco 8 was officially launched on February 26th 2019 (coincidently my birthday!). Version 8 been a long time in the making, so there was a pretty high level of expectation when it was released. Whilst Umbraco 7 has over a period of time, become a mature and stable CMS platform. This leads to the inevitable question....should your next Umbraco project by version 8?

Well, the short answer is.... maybe....

Umbraco 8.1 (the latest version at time of writing) is good, but (dare I say it?) not 'complete' in the way Umbraco 7.15 is. Here's why....

Umbraco 8 is a major version upgrade. The core codebase has been completely upgraded and is different to version 7. As a consequence, any templates, custom code or packages you have been merrily using for your Umbraco 7 projects, will no longer be any use. It's a blank slate.... which is a bit of bummer if you have a good selection of Umbraco 7 code widgets....

And the code syntax is different, so you will need to learn this again... hmm...

Over a period of time, a large number of third-party plugin packages have been created for Umbraco 7. Unfortunately, these plugins are not compatible with Umbraco 8. A loss of a valuable resource.... At the time of writing there were thirty or so plugins for Umbraco 8, and no doubt there will be more soon. However, it is pain to lose all the previous plugins.

I recently completed an Umbraco 8.1 project and was surprised and a little dismayed to discover that 'custom grid editors' - which had become such a core part of Umbraco 7 projects - do not appear to be supported in Umbraco 8. Which just seems bizarre! I tried to use the tried and tested 'LeBlender' package for custom grid editors, but failed miserably... There were also a few bugs (e.g image cropper), which made life interesting....

I've no doubt that over a period of time, these issues will be resolved, but using Umbraco 8.1 in anger was a slightly frustrating experience.

What are the good points of Umbraco 8?

Infinite editing - what's that I hear you cry? Making content creation easier is a big part of Umbraco 8. 'Infinite Editing' allows a content editor to edit content without constantly having to switch between pages. Most of it can be done from one page, without the need to navigate to other pages in the Umbraco admin tree. Which is good...

Multi-language sites. In Umbraco 7, if you wanted your website in another language, you would have to create a new 'sub-site' for each language. For example, you would have the 'main site' with English content - then create a 'clone' sub-site for French, then another for German etc. The content for each sub-site would have to be maintained seperately. Which was pretty time-consuming.

In Umbraco 8, multiple languages is a core part of the CMS build. It's now possible to view and edit multi language content via a side-by-side view. It's also possible to switch between languages. There is also the option to either publish your new content to all langauges at the same time, or to a single language only. Indeed, multi language capability, is a major advantage of Umbraco 8.

 

Conclusion

In time, I have no doubt, Umbraco 8 will become vastly better than the previous Umbraco 7. However, I think it would be wise to consider carefully, whether Umbraco 8 currently offers your project any advantages over Umbraco 7.
It may be that 'multi language' support and 'infinate editing' offer you just the sort of advantage you are looking for. Or it may be that the attraction of a (at time of writing) more 'mature' system with a large library of plugins, is more important. In which case, sticking with Umbraco 7 is perhaps a better choice.

Personally, I'm quite happy working with Umbraco 7 or 8. They're both damn good. And free... The Umbraco community are to be applauded!

 

Umbraco 8

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