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Posts for the month of February 2008

Page Mockup - easy creation of page structure

One of the things I like the most in my work is to hold customer presentations. In order to make EPiServer look gooood I rely on some small tools and Plug-ins that give me the upper hand and sets the customer in the right mood. Many of these tools are found on EPiCode.

One of these tools is a small, but indispensable one, and it's called Page Mockup (anyone in for a naming contest?). It allows me to create one or several page structures based on the customers existing site map (or whatever format you have the page names in). Imagine the recognition the customer feels when you open the demo site with the complete navigation structure from his existing site!

Another useful area for the PageMockUp plug-in is when doing prototyping of design and information architecture in a customer project. Instead of looking at the information structure in Excel you could visualize the complete structure in EPiServer while at the same time verify that your fly-out menus handles 100 + sub pages. Together with the inbuilt functions of EPiServer, like Drag & Drop of page structures, working with information architecture is dead easy . Add the Manage Children module and your EPiServer development days just got even better!

Watch a screencast of the plug-in in use

EPiServer + Picasa = TRUE

Norsk Rikstoto donated the Picture Gallery template to EPiCode some time ago. This very cool template creates thumbnail size, preview size and the possibility to download the full resolution picture. It even handles search in metadata of pictures through the inbuilt search of EPiServer! Norsk Rikstoto use the template in order to provide high resolution pictures to the press and media.

As a side project Sveinung (too shy to have his blog listed on Labs) started working on a hack that would enable us to use Picasa as an "image vault". Having seem similar functionality for Picasa to Flickr and Picasa to Facebook we got some new ideas for features.

Small screenshot of Picasa2EPiServerYesterday the Picasa2EPiServer module was launched on EPiCode! It enables you to create new picture galleries directly from Picasa by choosing you favorite pictures and publish the to EPiServer. If you want to edit some of the pictures later on you can do that and publish them again to the same gallery (or a new one).

Watch a screencast of the module in use

The module comes with an EPiServer Admin plug-in for installing the button in Picasa and a sample Picture Gallery template. The rest of the fun is up to you.

As the module comes with full source you can easily adopt it into being an Image Vault for the File manager in EPiServer - having Picasa as your supplier of high quality pictures.

Web Part Framework

A template driven CMS with properties for editors to fill in makes wonders for the usability but sets boundaries for the creative mind. The result is often that you got to have templates with multiple properties in order to compensate for the "rigid" way templates work. Well - not any more, introducing an easy to use Web Part Framework - (WPF)! Originally developed for the biggest EPiServer site in Norway, www.regjeringen.no (the Norwegian Government - with 300 000 + pages at launch with 2 000 + pages created every week) the WPF introduces new ways of working with content in EPiServer.

One of the most important aspects when the WPF was developed was to have a high usability level and at the same time give the editors enough freedom to work with content. Many systems have failed this task giving us flexible interfaces but with no thought of the actual usage - so combining a standard template approach with Web Parts seems a good idea. However, introducing this in your first customer meeting will (unless it is a demand) make EPiServer look complicated and hard to use and give the same editorial feeling as other other CMS's (it has nothing to do with the implementation).

The different web parts included with the framework are page list, page, link, banners (pictures) and the WYSIWYG editor! Go to EPiCode and check it out with full source for free.

Want to see what it looks like? Watch the screencast

PS. With the new way of installing modules in CMS 5 you can actually get the Web Part Framework installed without compiling or editing web.config. Get the *.zip

GoogleMaps module has been extended

The googlemaps module has been updated to support Enterprise intallations.

In order to use google maps on your website you need a Google map API key ( You can get one at : http://www.google.com/apis/maps/signup.html ). If you are running an enterprise installation, you'll need keys for every site (every unique url).

The EPiServer admin plugin handling the storage of the Key, now stores the key based on the siteUrl setting in web.config:

Admin plugin screenshot