Orchard & Umbraco - The Admin

Saturday, Jan 15, 2011 4 minute read Tags: umbraco orchard
Hey, thanks for the interest in this post, but just letting you know that it is over 3 years old, so the content in here may not be accurate.


In this article I’m going to have a look at the admin systems for the two CMSs. You can consider this a ‘first look’ although in reality this isn’t my first look at either admin systems I’ll do my best to pretend ;).

First off let me say that there is a good overview of the Orchard admin on their website, and this post isn’t to try and replace it or anything, it’s more my opinion of it.

This is from a series in Orchard and Umbraco, the overview can be found here.

The Orchard Admin

To get into the Orchard admin you log into /admin and put in the details from your setup process, when logging in you see something like this:

Orchard admin

To me this look pretty slick, I really like the look of it, it’s very current web, and I like it. Also there’s a nice friendly message welcoming you to Orchard, which I find to be a nice touch.

Functionality wise your primary point of call is the navigation bar:

Orchard navigation

This is quite different to the navigation system of Umbraco (which I’ll come to shortly), its a text-based navigation, which isn’t as unintuitive as you’re initially think. I say this because I’m a visual person so I find graphical navigations quick to pick up.

But that said Orchard has some nice features that make it very intuitive. First off the top most item of the navigation is the point you’ll be looking for most of the time, a new page link.

With a few clicks you can easily hide off pieces you don’t require at the current point in time (the arrow next to the section headings). This makes the Orchard admin something very simple and straight to the point of what you’re trying to do, manage a site.

What I Like

As I’ve said I quite like the UX experience of the Orchard admin, I find it quite ascetically pleasing.

I like the way that Orchard has you create content, that underneath the New option it lists out the types which you can create.

Lastly I like the way Orchard provides a direct link back to your Orchard website. It may be a small feature, but it’s surprisingly useful a feature.

The Umbraco back-office

With Umbraco its administration system is most commonly referred to as the back-office, and is accessible via /umbraco/ (previously that would redirect to a page which launched a popup, but that was removed in v4.5). If you’ve seen the Umbraco in the past (say before Juno) then you’ll know that it can be a bit daunting, upon logging in you were often presented with a very play looking interface. Well luckily with Juno it’s been updated nicely and this is what the Juno default back office looks like:

Umbraco back office

Already you can see the primary difference between the two systems, Umbraco has much more of a direct focus on content management.

Another major difference is the tree down the left hand side. This is to do with the fact that Umbraco has much more of a hierarchical content focus than Orchard.

For navigating around the back office Umbraco has sections:

Umbraco sections

The difference sections load up different contextual information, but in the same UX as posted above. Because the sections are hidden behind a full UI refresh, meaning that if you’re not exactly sure what you’re looking for you can perform a few wrong clicks (been there, done that :P).

What I like

Putting on my content editors hat I do like the fact that Umbraco defaults to loading me into the content editing section of the back office; it’s my primary focus at that time so saving me digging around is a benefit for sure.

Another thing that I like about Umbraco, which I didn’t come across in Orchard, is the auto-locking feature. This is a new feature in Juno (and replaces the keepalive.aspx file which caught me off guard more than once), and it works like this:

Umbaco locking

In this instance I haven’t interacted with Umbraco for a few minutes (a time period which is set in the web.config in <add key="umbracoTimeOutInMinutes" value="20" />). Umbraco will then count down to zero and once you get there you’ll get this:

Umbraco locked

Now Umbraco can’t be interacted with until you log in again. From the point of view of a content editor I can see the auto-locking feature to be very handy, especially if you’re in an organisation which security is really a concern.


In this article we’ve had a very quick look at the admin systems of both Orchard and Umbraco. This article wasn’t intended to be a deep look into the admin systems, nor was it to look into features which make up the system, it was more a first impressions article.