The Umbraco Package team lists their favorite packages!

Happy holidays from the newly created Umbraco Package team!

The Umbraco Package Team has recently been created in an effort to improve the package experience in Umbraco. If you want to learn more about who we are and what we do you can read about us in these blog posts:

But enough about who we are! 

I am here today to share each package team members favorite packages, and which package they wish was available in Umbraco 8.

Package team 2019 (3).jpg

Nik:

Hey my name is Nik, I am a part of the Umbraco Package Team, and I want to share my 3 favorite packages:

 

1. Slimsy

Slimsy is a great package for working with images. It allows you to easily generate src sets for img tags and works with lazysizes.js and picturefill.js to lazy load the images. It’s easy to set up and once you are working with it, you’ll find it will greatly aid the performance of your website. Slimsy is available for both Umbraco 7 and Umbraco 8, although the v8 version is tagged as a Beta, it works great.

Thank you Jeavon Leopold for creating such a great package and to Marc Stöcker and Will Phillips for helping!

 

2. uSync

“uSync is a synchronization tool for the Umbraco CMS. It serializes the database config and data within an Umbraco site, and reads and writes it to disk as a collection of XML files.”

I stole that straight from the uSync git repo as it’s the easiest way to explain what uSync does. If you work with Umbraco and multiple-environments (and you aren’t using Umbraco Cloud), this is by far the best way to source control your Umbraco Content Schema. Originally made for Umbraco 7, there is now an Umbraco 8 version, and recently uSync complete was launched which is a paid for extension to uSync that supercharges it.

It’s been built by the wonderful Kevin Jump, who also just so happens to be part of this package team.

 

3. Image Filter

Ever wanted to rotate an image you’ve already uploaded to Umbraco? Don’t have access to Photoshop? Image Filter is your package of choice here. It’s one of the early content apps for Umbraco 8 and releases some of the powers of Image Processor to the editor. It’s easy to use and allows editors to quickly tweak/alter existing images either overriding them or saving the changes to a new media item.

It was created by Paul Seal and myself for the early Umbraco 8 package competition and is available for Umbraco 8 only.

 

The package I hope the most gets ported to Umbraco 8:

I really hope that Stacked Content gets ported to Umbraco 8. It’s versatility for creating layouts is wonderful, especially with the ability to customise previews used in the back office.

Thankfully it is open source, so if you feel like giving a helping hand - head to the repo at https://github.com/umco/umbraco-stacked-content and ask if you can help. However Lee, one of the original creators of Stacked Content is working on something new that may replace it in Umbraco 8 called Contentment.

 

Richard:

Hey my name is Richard, I am a part of the Umbraco Package Team, and I want to share my 3 favourite packages:

 

1. Simple AWS S3

With most modern websites speed is a really important factor, not only for site visitors but for developers / deployers too. One of the most common ways to help out with this is to store things like site media on a different server, reducing production server load and speeding up the site for everyone concerned. This plugin makes it really easy and simple to put your media up on an AWS S3 bucket.

It works with both Umbraco 7 and Umbraco 8, although there’s a tiny bit more setup to do for Umbraco 7!

This neat little package was created by Elijah Glover.

 

2. LookWhosEditingToo

LookWhosEditingToo is a package that allows you to see if someone else is currently editing the same piece of content. This is something that is a really simple idea and helps content editor teams from stepping on each others toes.

Created by Tim Geyssens.

 

3. NuCacheExplorer

Ever wanted a nice, quick way to take a spy into NuCache and see what’s going on? Well this package gets you in through a new dashboard in the Settings section.

Thanks for this little nugget Ian Houghton.

 

The package I hope the most gets ported to Umbraco 8:

I’d really like to see the LookWhosEditingToo package to make it’s way across to Umbraco 8. Such a simple idea and could save a few headaches for content editors! Luckily it’s an open source project so anyone can help out, you can find it on GitHub.

 

Dave:

Hey my name is Dave Woestenborghs, I am a part of the Umbraco Package Team, and I want to share my 3 favorite packages:

 

1. Doc Type Grid Editor 

What is so great about it?

If you use grid layouts for building up your content you probably ran in to the issue that the out of the box supplied editors are not sufficient when you want to build complex grid components. This means you will need to develop your own grid editors. This is where Doc Type Grid Editor will help you. It allows you to create grid editors based on a doctype definition. Think nested content for the grid.

It works in both Umbraco 7 and 8!

 

Shout out to Matt Brailsford and Lee Kelleher because they started this awesome package! And of course a big shout out to Søren Kottal who took ownership of the package when he made it Umbraco 8 compatible!

 

2. Seo Visualizer

What is so great about it?

This package gives you a property editor to edit the browser title and meta description of your page. The great thing is that editors immediately see a “Google styled” preview of what they are entering. So they get an idea how it will look in Google search results.

It works both for Umbraco 7 and 8.

 

Shout out to Markus Johansson for this awesome package!

 

3. Fluidity

What is so great about it?

If you ever created a custom section in Umbraco to let editors view and edit data in external storage (eg. custom database tables) you know how much work is involved in doing this. Here is where fluidity comes in to play. It allows you to create custom sections with a fluent API based on your POCO’s. What normally is days of work is only a couple of hours with fluidity.

It works only for Umbraco 7.

 

Shout out to Matt Brailsford for this awesome package!

 

The package I hope the most gets ported to Umbraco 8:

I really hope that Fluidity gets ported to Umbraco 8 because it will help speed up development when you need custom sections.

Thankfully it is open source, so if you feel like giving a helping hand - head to the repo at https://github.com/mattbrailsford/umbraco-fluidity/ and ask if you can help!

 

Lotte:

Hi, I’m Lotte, and here are three Umbraco packages that I would like to make sure you know about:

 

1. God Mode

If you ever inherit a site then Dan Diplo’s “God Mode” Package is a god send (pun intended). It adds a new developer section that allows you to query where data types, doc types, compositions etc are being used, what API controllers there are, what value converters are implemented, and much, much more. It really is a toolbox packed full of features. I find it invaluable to prove that a particular data type, or document type, is no longer being used and can be safely removed!

H5YR to Dan as he has already ported this popular Umbraco 7 package to Umbraco 8!

 

2. uEditorNotes

I’m sure we’re all adding meaningful descriptions to our doc type properties... But sometimes a couple of lines of guidance isn’t enough to make the back-office as intuitive as possible for your content editors. That’s where Marc Goodson’s “uEditorNotes” package comes in. It allows you to add a read-only property with rich text so paragraphs, links, videos, styling etc are all supported. Editors can collapse the notes so they don’t get in the way when they don’t need them any more.

Also H5YR to Marc for having already made an Umbraco 8 compatible version!

 

3. Robots.txt Editor

This package allows you to edit the robots.txt file via the back office. It was created by “package veteran” Lee Kelleher over 10 years ago and was the first package he ever built. I was part of a small team that Lee mentored to build the Umbraco 8 version earlier this year. It was both an educational and a fun experience! If you’re thinking of building a package, or upgrading one for Umbraco 8, why not find a collaborator to work with you?  It’s a great way to learn (or share knowledge), to come up with new ideas, and means you can share the ongoing maintenance. If you’d like to collaborate but don’t know where to start, please reach out to the Package Team (email packages@umbraco.com) so we can help you!

Big thank you to Lee Kelleher for mentoring myself, Emma Burstow and Mike Masey on this!

 

The package I hope the most gets ported to Umbraco 8:

The package I wish would be ported to Umbraco 8 is nuPickers by Hendy Racher (and contributed to by many others). It allows you to add data types driven by SQL, enums, json, xml, and other sources. I understand that Lee Kelleher’s Contentment package for v8 will provide similar functionality so I’m eagerly awaiting that (release planned by end of Q1 2020).

 

Kevin:

Hi my name is Kevin and I have loads of favourite packages and many of them are already here. What I really like is when a package extends Umbraco in a new or interesting way - they make you realise just how extensible Umbraco can be. Three packages that have done that really well for me are:

 

1. Plumber

Umbraco has some basic workflow built-in for simple send to publish style workflow, but if you want anything more complicated or robust Plumber is a must. It has a multistage workflow, with approval dashboards and notifications. 

One thing Nathan has done is to use Angular Interceptors to change the save and publish menu, so you can now have workflow integrated right into the process with “Save and request publish” kicking off the workflow dialogs directly. 

With his v8 version of plumber, he’s given us a good write up on how he has used directive injection to achieve the same thing. 

 

2. Our.Umbraco.HealthChecks

Introduced in Umbraco 7.5 health checks, are just a great resource that I suspect not enough people are using, Paul Seal’s health check package comes with a collection of health checks that allow you to run checks on things like Examine indexes, Azure settings, and even some security patch checks. 

Even if these aren’t the right checks for you, you should take a look. The Health Check API docs are easy to follow, and source code for the package is a great place to look and get tips. 

 

3. Umbraco Forms on Perplex Steroids

You either love or hate Umbraco Forms there doesn’t seem to be much in-between, but the one thing I hope we can all agree on is that the Umbraco Forms on Perplex steroids package makes it even better. 

The main thing for me is the addition of folders for your forms! Which is a must if you have more than 5 forms. But you also get loads of new and enhanced form types, such as File upload fields where you can specify file types and text fields where you can limit the size of responses.

The Umbraco Forms API Docs aren’t the easiest thing to navigate, so extra kudos to the team at perplex for navigating their way around and sharing this awesome package with us all. These are little things but they can make a massive difference to editors and form creators on your site. 

 

The package I hope the most gets ported to Umbraco 8:

Of the packages above, only Plumber currently has a version for Umbraco 8, so it would be great to see new versions of the other two packages. However, for the day-to-day work I am doing the package I keep wishing would work on Umbraco 8 is Linked Pages, which gives you a nicer view of relation types, but as I wrote that so it’s up to me to sort that out!

 

Jesper:

Hey my name is Jesper, I am a part of the Umbraco Package Team, and I want to share my 3 favorite packages:

 

1. UnVersion

I started at Umbraco working in the support department. One of the common issues I’ve seen is performance problems when doing things like cleaning up the recycle bin, or deployments being slow when deploying all content between environments on Umbraco Cloud. I learned about UnVersion which helps you clean up revisions of your content, which helps shrink down your database and make deployments easier.

Currently UnVersion only works for Umbraco 7, but there is a PR to port it to version 8 under works!

Shout out to Lee Kelleher and Matt Brailsford for this awesome package! And also to Søren Kottal for working on an Umbraco 8 update!

 

2. UmbracoFileSystemProviders.Azure

Similar to UnVersion above, media can become a problem to handle when a media library gets too large. A common way to get around that is to add the media to Blob Storage - on Umbraco Cloud we recommend that you do so if you have 1gb or more in your media library. This package makes it easy to handle, it adds a new FileSystemProvider for you, and all you have to do is connect it to your blob storage account on Azure, then all images are automatically saved to and served from Blob Storage instead of the regular filesystem.

UmbracoFileSystemProviders.Azure works for both Umbraco 7 & Umbraco 8!

Shout out to the authors of the package: James Jackson-South, Dirk Seefeld, Lars-Erik Aabech & Jeavon Leopold!

 

3. UmbracoIdentityExtensions

Umbraco Identity Extensions is an awesome package. It allows you to set up single sign on really easily on your site. It has some extension packages for setting up Google, Facebook or Azure AD authentication. It comes with the frontend parts for the login screen already set up and some extra buttons in the backoffice for users to link their profile to whichever service they want. It works both for Umbraco 7 and 8.

The package is under Umbraco but is open source, most of the work on it has been done by Shannon Deminick though, so shout out to him!

 

The package I hope the most gets ported to Umbraco 8:

As I am new to using Umbraco packages I don’t know enough about what packages are missing in Umbraco 8. I will say though that I am very interested in seeing the uMarketingSuite package being released in Umbraco 8.

Jesper Mayntzhusen

Jesper is on Twitter as

Nik Rimington

Nik is on Twitter as

Richard Ockerby

Richard is on Twitter as

Dave Woestenborghs

Dave is on Twitter as

Lotte Pitcher

Lotte is on Twitter as

Kevin Jump

Kevin is on Twitter as