Editor / Administration UI.
This is an area where the two systems differ a lot (screenshots below). As I stated in the introduction post, one of the reasons I’m writing this comparison in the first place, is because I think a lot of the other articles published have been somewhat superficial. At least one of the other articles has stated that clients couldn’t see the difference between the two systems, and my guess is that the clients never actually had a look at the UI.
Sitecore Editor UI
Umbraco Editor UI
Where Sitecore has put a lot (!) of effort into enhancing the user experience, and make it seem almost like a remote desktop, Umbraco has kept the interface quite simple. Some users may get overwhelmed by the features offered by the Sitecore UI, and to the inexperienced computer user it can be too much (I guess). Most users however get an “oh, it’s just like Windows” experience. The editors that is scared off by Sitecores interface will almost certainly be more comfortable using Umbraco. Umbracos UI has had some “known bugs” for a number of years (however, I’m told it should be fixed in the next release...), but the interface is easy to understand and editors can get working really fast.
The Sitecore interface is based on XAML, and is “easily” extensible. To make a custom application look and feel like at seamlessly integrated part of the interface it still takes some effort, but in my humble opinion Sitecore has provided all the tools. The Sitecore UI is made for tweaking and extensibility, where it is a lot trickier in Umbraco.
Sitecore also provides another way of editing content; through the Page Editor mode. This is basically like navigating the website editing the content directly in the design. Maintaining the content on your website surely can not be more intuitive than this… really!
The UI also gives the first hint of the main difference between the two systems. Where Umbraco is a really good alternative if you are looking for a basic CMS, Sitecore is (also) a development platform. I can’t think of an application you wouldn’t be able to build on Sitecore, and you get a lot of these out of the box. This has been a known strategy from Sitecore since the first release of version 5, where the Desktop was introduced.
In Umbraco the file and media management is based on the file system, leaving a lot of features unsupported. These include security (limiting file access to specific users), file versioning, ability to reorganize files etc.
Sitecore has handled this by treating media like any other content item. It is by default stored in the database giving all the flexibility of the generic content structure (including all the features not provided by Umbraco mentioned above). Even basic image editing features is included in the Sitecore Media Library.
There is no doubt Sitecores implementation is way better than Umbracos very simple and basic media handling.
Sitecore Media Library
Sitecore Image Editor
Umbraco Media Management
Localization / Globalization
The language layer is built into the core of Sitecore. Content can exist in multiple languages, and you switch by using a contextual menu. You can still build single language solutions, or use your own globalization structure.
In Umbraco you have to build your own structure, and place the language versions side-by-side. You can quite easily implement some basic changes to the client, to make it a bit more user friendly, though.
In my opinion Sitecore has the upper hand on this one, especially if you wish to keep a similar content structure in multiple languages.
Analytics and reporting
This subject will be pretty much exclusively about Sitecore, as Umbraco hasn’t implemented any standard functionality.
About a year ago Sitecore announced the Sitecore Online Marketing Suite (OMS for short). It is actually a strategic move by Sitecore wanting to facilitate the complete marketing experience out-of-the-box. The system includes basic features like analytics and reporting, but it also enables developers to target content to specific users. The generic structure of OMS creates an abstraction layer between website user behavior and profiles created through the Sitecore Client. This will assign users a profile based on their decisions throughout the visit, enabling content targeting. The OMS also provides Campaign planning and many other features, better described in other more detailed articles and whitepapers.
My personal experience with the OMS is that it can be an extremely powerful tool if your requirements include marketing of some sort. If your solution is merely an information site (like governmental websites) my guess is that you probably don’t need it.
It is a very bold move by Sitecore to move into the analytics market (let’s face it – you can use Google Analytics if you just need to analyze the traffic on your site), but you have to admire the insight and ambitions they show. They’ve seen the lacks in the usual implementations of this, and have dared to take on the challenge. The next couple of years will show if they hit the spot.
Security and Workflow
Umbracos admin security model is pretty basic, and is probably sufficient in most small sites. However, if you need more advanced security features like limiting access to specific functionality, you will soon be challenged by the possibilities provided by Umbraco.
Sitecore on the other hand, can be secured in a very fine-grained fashion. Everything can be controlled through the Security Editor in a really flexible and intuitive manor. No need for custom implementations.
Both Sitecore and Umbraco have changed their security layer to the .Net Security Provider Model (In Umbraco this only applies to the front-end security). This makes it extremely easy to implement other authentication methods, such as LDAP. Sitecore has extended it with a couple of features (such as roles in roles), but it is pretty much standard.
Sitecore User Manager
Sitecore Security Editor
Umbraco User Management
Umbraco User Permissions
Umbracos Workflow is pretty simple and linear. If you need advanced features, you’ll have to implement it yourself, which can be quite a challenge.
The Sitecore Workflow engine is like most other aspects of the system very extensible. Implementing advanced workflows in Sitecore is almost without limitations. It supports editorial, multistep processes including locking of content in order to prevent modification. Workflows can be assigned to all system users (including administrators) or just specific users or roles. However it is my experience that most clients don’t really need too much workflow. It may very well be, that this is a result of the Scandinavian attitude to hierarchy and business procedures, so please excuse me if this does not apply in your situation. Anyway, I think that the Workflow engine in Sitecore should suffice in all situations. If not, my advice would be to reconsider the requirements.
Hope you’ve enjoyed Part 1. In Part 2, I’ll compare “API and documentation”, “Project startup costs”, “Open Source vs. Commercial software” and “System community”.