Xigla offered a nice upgrade to v6 of their .Net News Manager module, so I took the plunge Friday. The old v5 wasn't the easiest to deploy in AC7 but I think part of it was just wrapping my head around it. Xigla uses a lot of ASP and JScript and I'm used to .Net code with user controls. That seems to have changed somewhat for the v6 which was nice to see.
Installation and Upgrade
Upgrading was actually very simple – Xigla did a great job with the install wizard. I actually stepped on the upgrade install by running the SQL upgrade script before I ran the module install wizard. Don't do that or the install wizard won't let you proceed because the wizard will try to run the script for you 🙂
The upgrade itself ran flawlessly – let me build the correct SQL connection string and stepped me through every part of the process. Each step included error-checks before proceeding. I'm going to need to dig a little into their wizard code and draw some lessons – few .Net install scripts are so well designed.
I've done some playing with it this weekend and there are some really nice improvements. Any zone can be RSS'd now. That's a huge thing to add and oh how simple it is. Once again Xigla has relied on the "script generator" concept where all the user-defined parameters of a zone can be generated into the final line of code you'll need to deploy it. Once you're happy with the zone appearance, you're just a copy-and-paste away from deploying it anywhere in your site. Within just a few minutes, I was able to add RSS feed support to multiple zones. Adding full social bookmarking support to all pages in my site took about 60 seconds. You really can't ask for easier integration of stuff like this.
Juan has gotten far better at holding the site admins hand during configuration and management of features. Many parts of the admin side now give you additional text explaining what will happen and how it affects other aspects. The plug-ins section is very simple to use for adding new functionality and features to your news management. A complete WYSIWYG editor offers all the needed functionality for article creation.
Custom templates can still be designed and now can be chosen via a graphical screenshot view instead of the dull text dropdown choices. A nice touch for the less-saavy admins in the world. New advanced display options for zone headers/footers/dividers can be included with a zone definition. This gives you alot more control over zone customization without having to dig deep into templates. I'm going to spend more time focused on templates so I can deploy product information zones to many more categories of products within my http://www.Solunar.com site.
A new "front end" page has been included that offers a blog-style home page for searching articles complete with tag cloud. Xigla is definitely going the route of blog look-and-feel with this front end design. Version 6 also includes public comment posting to news articles. Had I known they were going this route, I wouldn't have spent so much time getting BlogEngine.Net up and running 🙂
In summary, it's a great upgrade to an already well-designed product. I highly recommend the v6 News Manager .Net for anyone wanting dynamic and flexible content. News Manager .Net gives me everything I need to quickly and easily manage the dozens of articles I have on www.Solunar.com.