12 Umbraco packages that are Christmas miracles
By Nisha Patel
Ahh Christmas, the time for mulled wine, decking the halls, and putting your feet up for a well earned break. And boy do our developers deserve a break! We’ve had a busy year at Cogworks HQ and our development team have had their brains well and truly stretched with the complex conundrums and perplexing projects that have been thrown at them. And when the going got tough, they turned to the trusty Umbraco community for help and support.
One thing that has kept our development and content teams happy this year are the myriad of Umbraco packages available at their fingertips all aimed at making Umbraco development and content editing just that little bit easier. We take Umbraco packages very seriously, and when we come across a package that is a gamechanger, we get very excited. Don’t believe us? Have a look at our content team’s reaction to the release of the find and replace Umbraco package last year.
We didn’t want to keep these packages all to ourselves, so read on to find out more about the 12 Umbraco packages that we have dubbed as ‘actual Christmas miracles’.
1. Translation Manager
On the first day of Christmas the Kevin Jump gave to us....an awesome Translation tool. The Translation Manager package allows you to plug your original language content into Umbraco before allowing translators to go in and translate content for you. No more copying and pasting translated content and no more endless email chains containing multiple word documents. Everyone who is involved in the translation process, from translators to content editors can manage their roles from within Umbraco via the intuitive Translator Dashboard.
Nexu, created by Dave Woestenborghs, is the internal link tracking tool from heaven. After installing the package you can track all of the internal links present in your Umbraco instance. This helps to avoid embarrassing Page 404s caused by pages being unpublished. Nexu gives you a clear list of all of the pages that are linked to a node in Umbraco, helping to avoid accidentally unpublishing content or deleting media items that are in use. We’ve found this particularly useful for larger sites that are managed by multiple content editors.
3. Publication Queue
Kevin also gave us Publication queue, a particularly useful package if you don’t want to spend all day looking at a spinning wheel while you publish content. The package is true to its name and allows editors to queue content for publication. This publishing is then processed in the background. The package even provides a handy status update so you can see real time information about the progress of your publishing. This is great for big sites which are updated frequently.
Our very own, Ismail Mayat’s ExamineFileIndexer is the tool for you if you need your Umbraco media content to be indexed and searchable. It also handily picks up files in Azure blob storage. The great thing about this package is that it can index any file type in the media library which provides a far better experience for the end user, and helping to improve search SEO. Win, win!
5. Diplo Trace Log Viewer
Diplo Trace Log Viewer created by (can you guess?) Dan Diplo, is an easy on the eye log package. It takes Umbraco logs and improves the UI. You can search through logs directly in the developer section of Umbraco without having to access servers. It’s a quick and easy way to view logs and is especially handy when you’re in a hurry. The package includes the ability to search and filter through logs by various criterion such as the type of error, or time when the log was recorded.
The brainchild of The Cogworks’ very own Anthony Dang, SiteLock was born out of a client’s need to hide staging/pre-prod environments. The package only allows users that are logged into the back office of an Umbraco instance to be able to view the public website. It’s an easy to use domain whitelisting package, you don’t need to be a developer to use it, and it cuts out tiresome conversations with site administrators to block sites. Just install the package, configure it and you’ll be able to see the site if you’re logged in to the Umbraco backoffice - simples!
Antoine Giraud gave us the LeBlender package, which makes grid development in Umbraco just that little bit easier. LeBlender allows developers to complete advanced grid development through the creation of reusable content blocks which can be repurposed for different row configurations. This allows developers to re-use content document types or similar data structures as grid components - without having to type it all out in JSON files! Hooray!
8. Diplo Audit Log Viewer
Dan also gifted us with Diplo Audit Log Viewer, which takes the audit trail in Umbraco and makes it easier to pin an issue on someone else (just kidding, of course!). But this package does make deciphering audit trails far easier. All actions completed by individual CMS users can be filtered through using multiple criterion. So for example, you could search for all actions completed by John the Content Editor in September 2017 in the Content section of Umbraco.
9. Infuse AI into U
Infuse AI into U brings a little bit of magic to the Umbraco back office, thanks to Henk Boelman. The package uses Azure Cognitive Services to identify the content of media uploads and can even add descriptions to the image. It’s able to identify celebrities, landmarks and even detect if an image might have racy content. Perfect for dumping lots of images into media library without the pain of having to sort through, label and put them into folders manually.
If the idea of coding a multi-level navigation sends shivers down your spines, then Meganav is the package for you. The Cogworks’ Callum was sick of seeing navigations which used recursive code to traverse nodes, or site navigations which were hardcoded! He decided there had to be an easier way. Meganav is a DIY navigation builder, content editors can build custom multi-level navigations in the Umbraco back office simply through dragging and dropping. Read more about the story behind the package here.
11. Slack Health Check Notification
Sometimes the best packages are simple. Slack Health Check Notification (not to be confused with The Cogworks Health Check) is certainly simple, but very effective. The package enables messages to be sent to Slack channels to notify people that a health check has been completed. The notifications contain information about the the outcome of the health check and flags errors that may have been found during the health check. This is particularly useful if you have a number of Umbraco instances running health checks. Thanks Jeavon Leopold!
The NestedContent package from "UMCO" aka Lee Kelleher and Matt Brailsford, makes list editing in Umbraco a breeze. The package gives content editors a quick and easy way to populate repeated content in the CMS. From a developer’s perspective, doc types can be used to power field types, reducing the amount of time needed to define the field types in each list item section. And the icing on the (Christmas) cake? The NestedContent package had proven so useful that Umbraco added it to the core - now doesn’t that just give you a warm Christmassy feeling?!
So there we have it, the low down on our 12 favourite Umbraco packages of 2017. They range from the simple, to the innovative, to the “it’s so good, let’s put it into the core”. We can’t wait for what next year may bring in the land of Umbraco packages. But first, we’re off to indulge in a mince pie (or ten!).