Umbraco 8 Highlights and New Features
Umbraco New Features
In February 2019, Umbraco released version 8 of their Content Management System (CMS). Novicell tried the CMS after the update and in this blog post we will discuss the latest exciting features and whether you should migrate to Umbraco 8.
This major Umbraco release focused on making things simpler. That is why the release came with three new beneficial features, a new look, cleaned up codebase and improved performance and stability.
Umbraco 8 highlights include three new features: Content Apps, Infinite Editing and Language Variants. These features have been added to provide a simpler and smoother experience for the users.
Content Apps – create better content and save time
The new version of Umbraco gives you a way to evaluate, measure and improve your content with the introduction of Content Apps. Content Apps gives you access to checklists, insights and tips about your website content, so you can evaluate and offer better content to your website visitors.
You can use Content Apps to give editors access to the data in the backoffice like: popularity of the last blog post; number of content downloads; whether the right keywords were used in the copy; and if your content is user-friendly.
Content Apps is not a direct part of the editing experience; it is meant to be a companion to your existing editing experience. Now, you don’t have to visit external platforms or checklists to get insights into how to improve your content.
Infinite Editing – smooth workflows
Infinite Editing is a new editing feature for Umbraco 8. This built-in customisable feature enables you to create smooth workflows that support natural and frictionless editing flows of content editors, customers and developers.
This means that even if your content and your document types are in different sections of the Umbraco backoffice, you can make changes directly in the content you are editing.
Let’s say you are editing a news item and you realise you are missing, say, a publish date property. In the previous versions you would have to save what you are doing, leave the content section, go to the developer section, edit the news item document type and add this property.
With Infinite Editing, if you have the appropriate permissions, you can open the document type from the content item itself, add the property, save and close, and get back to where you left off editing. Your flow of editing is uninterrupted – and we all hate interruptions, right?
Language Variants – easy management of multilingual content
Say goodbye to syncing, hacks and workarounds for multilingual websites! Now, managing multilingual content is much easier as you can have multiple variations of the same content all gathered in one project.
Language Variants is a built-in support for multilingual content in Umbraco and makes it possible for all your content to exist in multiple variations at the same time.
But what does it mean?
- Switch languages in preview mode: You can now see how your site looks in one language compared to the same site in another language.
- Edit two different pieces of content at the same time: Translate your page from one language to another directly in the backoffice with side-by-side mode.
- Mandatory languages: Content for all the mandatory languages must be in place before you can publish the page.
- Control over publishing content on selected pages: Only publish the content on the pages of the countries where the product is launched and keep it hidden from the countries where the product is not available yet.
Codebase clean up – faster and more straightforward workflow
One of the major updates to Umbraco 8 is the clean up of the database. This makes the Umbraco codebase less complicated and easier to extend, which makes it much easier for developers to follow best practices and to install and uninstall packages.
This more straightforward workflow removes the need to create workarounds and also reduces the amount of time developers need to spend on developing a fully-functioning solution.
Version 8 has a new content cache. From its initial inception back in 2005, when you published a piece of content a cached representation of that content was stored in an .xml cache file. This was also loaded into memory, and when a page was requested, that .xml representation was displayed on the frontend. This was quicker than getting the content directly from the database. In version 8, this .xml cache has been replaced with a new cache, actually called ‘Nucache’, which is much faster than the previous cache.
The newer version also uses the compositions and dependency injection (version 7 used DI but it was easy to get direct access to the container). This means that, as a developer, you can add new functionality via compositions, but also swap out existing functionality.
In Umbraco 8, search now uses the latest version of Examine which utilises Lucene.net 3.0.3. This is an improvement over the previous version that used Lucene.net 2.9.4 as it is faster and more stable; however, it’s not using the latest version of Lucene.net.
Our developer, Arkadiusz, has released an elastic search package and you can read more about it in a blog post here. Arkadiusz is also working on updating Examine to use the latest version of Lucene.net, which is up to date, faster, more stable and has much better multilingual support, particularly for CJK (Chinese, Japanese and Korean) languages.
Getting started with Umbraco 8
Setup is the same as version 7 and it also has a starter kit should you require one.
Due to the fundamental updates to the codebase, there is no direct upgrade path from Umbraco 7 to Umbraco 8. However, it is possible to migrate content from Umbraco 7 sites to Umbraco 8 sites in Umbraco 8.1.
Our Senior Software Developer and Solutions Architect, Ismail, attended a workshop at the Umbraco UK Festival, run by Callum Whyte, that covered migration strategies. He was introduced to the Goldengate package, which can be used with uSync to help migrate existing version 7 content.
They also covered the big API changes, namely that everything is now done with compositions. This slightly more complex yet powerful feature lets you swap out core self-contained functionality.
Is it worth migrating to the latest version?
There are multiple benefits to migrating Umbraco 7 to Umbraco 8, especially in regards to editing features for multilingual websites. There is also improvement in site speed and shelf life.
While Umbraco 7 will continue to be patched for bug fixes and security reasons until 30 September 2023, no new features will be developed for Umbraco 7.
On the other hand, if you are using a lot of extensions and plugins that are critical to the functionality of your site and they have not yet been ported to v8, then you should hold off migrating for now.
Do you want Novicell to help you with Umbraco 8?
A website or an online store is the focal point for a digital business. Therefore, it is important to choose your software development agency, partner and platform carefully.
At Novicell, we have more than 10 years of experience with Umbraco. If you any questions about Umbraco, we are more than happy to help you. Get in contact here.