Orchard - Microsoft's Bid for Open Source CMS Competition
Microsoft has long been the proverbial boogeyman of the open source community because of its status as the producer of the world's most popular line of proprietary software, Windows. Their actions in the past have certainly warranted the feelings of open source software developers due to Microsoft's resistance to the idea of competition. However, the world has changed quite a bit, and the skills of the modern IT professional require a familiarity with both proprietary and free software. Microsoft, too has realized the positives of open source software as exemplified by their creation and continued development of Orchard CMS.
What Is the Orchard Project?
More than a CMS, the Orchard Project as a whole is designed to bring together a community of open source developers, assisted by a full-time development staff provided by Microsoft, to create a repository of ASP.NET components that are versatile and reusable. Using those components, they sought to build a database of applications to serve as working models that developers could study to overcome hurdles that many businesses encounter. Microsoft's investment in the project is through programming manpower, and they leave the support up to the community, headlined by the Outercurve Foundation. The primary project that has been latched on to is the Orchard CMS, and the development of system has made it quite a way from the infant form of early 2010.
How Far the CMS Has Come
Nearly two years ago, Orchard was a curiosity as Microsoft was just beginning to put together the parts of Orchard they have been developing to make something that resembles a CMS. The ASP.NET project piqued the interest of developers as Microsoft just seemed like an unlikely candidate to create and continue to develop a New BSD Licensed project. Development began in late 2009, primarily through the work of Microsoft's developers, and it was released in its early stages so that users and developers could begin feedback immediately. While it gave the impression of being an attractive and well designed CMS, the core components were not yet ready for use for quite some time. Still, the project was exciting for all involved.
In October 2011, two years later, we see Orchard 1.3, a CMS that has come into its own and offers not only functionality but also a dedicated community. When the project arrived in a V1 level of development, the community saw an uptick in users and those interested in contributing to both the themes and the components. As the components are designed to assist in the creation of applications outside of Orchard, there is also outside attention coming in as people release their own toys that become compatible with Orchard. Now, the development is moving even faster with an approaching version 1.4 coming soon.
The Features of Orchard CMS
It's not up to the level of Drupal, Joomla, or the other big name OSCMS alternatives in terms of its out of the box functionality, but Orchard is moving quickly in that direction. With many new components and widgets being created by developers around the world every day, chances are that you will easily find a ready to plug in solution or an easily installed snippet as a solution to your website needs. Many projects stall even before they reach a stable release version, but Orchard has proven its legs as involvement has only risen as the version number rises. To developers, this could provide an avenue to fame or even fortune. Getting in now to put your name on the development of an indispensable widget or component can get you noticed and potentially involved in lucrative opportunities as a leading developer for Orchard.
Possibly a little late in coming to Orchard is the ability to preview content before you post it, delete content through the panel, and RSS feeds for lists. However, the developers seem to be concentrating on creating some of the “cooler” background components that are more exciting to them than the user. That includes the logic for rules that can allow triggers to cause an action when a certain event occurs, pulling multiple IDs for content in a single query, and increasing its compatibility with cloud servers.
All in all, it's a great project and should be considered a viable option for those interested in being on the cutting edge.