Written with Beginners, established Developers, and Reviewers in mind.
Are you new to the Composite C1 CMS ?
Although the Composite C1 CMS from Orckestra is marketed commercially (professional product support, upgrade services and some add-on modules can be purchased if required), the fact that it is also available as a free Open Source CMS appeals to many people who want to build websites with it (developers, start-up companies, students, casual hobbyists, internet marketers).
Are you a Beginner Developer completely new to Composite C1 ?
Do you have a reasonably good knowledge of building web pages with HTML, want to learn more about programming with C# Razor syntax and have some experience using Visual Studio ?
Do you want to expand that knowledge, while making use of a free CMS to build your website?
Are you an Established Developer who has heard of Composite C1, and you're considering using it for your next project and need to get going quickly?
Perhaps you have already started working with C1 but have got bogged down with the necessary procedures or you are encountering some problems along the way?
Maybe you want to know how to obtain and utilise a more attractive Bootstrap theme from the many cheaply available (in preference to the few starter sites supplied) and how to integrate your new theme into the layout templates of Composite C1 ?
Maybe you are a Researcher or Estimator who needs to review Composite C1 and determine if it's suitable for your business needs and evaluate the costs and steps required to get a C1 website up and running?
Why was Composite C1 Tutorial written?
My name is Jim Prior, I have worked in the computer industry for more than 30 years and I have been creating websites using Composite C1 from Orckestra for 4 years. I am a seasoned developer who needs to identify any way to make life simple and make the most effective use of my time!
I would class myself as being a practiced developer and I enjoy sharing knowledge through technical authoring. Through experience I have found that while trying to keep abreast of the multitude of conceptual, programming and design skills required when creating internet property, at times it can be confusing!
When I first started using Composite C1 I really wished there was some good “real-world” advice and documentation providing a consistent, repeatable, step-by-step process for quickly setting up a developers Visual Studio working environment, configuring Microsoft’s Internet Information Services (IIS) Manager and then building new websites using Composite C1.
Yes, there is the C1 documentation and user guides, but the kind of information and know-how that only comes from experience was lacking, and was what I wanted.
I also encountered many frustrating problems as I learned and kept notes about everything. If you are someone who has never developed with Composite C1 before, and have no fellow team members with C1 knowledge to learn from (just a quick chat often helps), then like me, your ability to get up to speed as quickly as possible may be hampered.
Once I got through the learning phase, solved any problems and became more confident I began to enjoy using Composite C1 more. I was very satisfied with the websites I created and my clients were delighted with the final results and the fact they could easily add and modify data completely relevant to their business requirements.
One of the aims of this guide is to make Composite C1 more accessible to beginners and intermediates, whatever angle they are coming from. Whether as a user who needs to assess C1 and compare it against other CMS’s, or as a developer with a good degree of skills who must make the best use of his/her time, or as a complete newbie who needs a helping hand. Not just with C1, but also some of the ideas, tools and working procedures for web development generally.
In writing this tutorial I wanted it to be useful, not just for established developers, but also for novices who want to know more about the Visual Studio working environment and elements such as basic web debugging methods.
It may also help reviewers who need to evaluate Composite C1 for use by their business. Additionally I hope it provides answers to issues normally raised in the Composite C1 Community Forums, thereby reducing questions about common problems.
In recent years as a self-employed developer I find that making websites using Composite C1, or any CMS for that matter, requires a good method to follow in order to build sites quickly and profitably.
I sincerely hope this guide will help save your time as you learn about this great product.
Beginners. Completely new to developing with Composite C1 CMS.
Developers. Good skills but need to learn Composite C1 quickly.
Reviewers. Need to assess suitability of C1 for a project.
Composite C1 Tutorial is NOT for....
The Composite C1 Tutorial e-book is not really intended for front-end users:-
- Absolute beginners who have no intention of doing any programming and simply need to learn how to work with the C1 Console should follow the videos and tutorials freely available at the Composite C1 User Guides site: http://users.composite.net/
- You can also register to create an account at www.composite.net where you can login and create a free 7-day personal demo website to get a feel for the product.
Benefits & Features of the
Composite C1 CMS
If you need a professional, but budget friendly website that scales out in the cloud, then Composite C1 is for you. C1 boasts a lot of awesome features, which make it a great fit for both budding and experienced developers.
Composite C1 has:-
- Easy installation and setup
- A comprehensive user interface
- Has support for XSLT, MVC, Webforms and Razor syntax
- Has a built-in package (or “add-on”) manager with quick install extensions
- It can run with a file based database only (uses XML, yet can be easily upgraded to SQL support using a free add-on)
- C1 has good template support which can be simple or advanced depending on your skills
- Supports Windows Azure out of the box
- It uses nice URL's for SEO purposes
- Customised code and functionality can be developed easily due to its great API
- Plus easy to setup multi-site support
There are many benefits to using Composite C1:-
- C1 is open source and free, yet great “out of the box” for easy database building using its own XML file-based database (that’s right, you do not need to install SQL Server initially, although if required you can easily change datastores to use SQL Server later).
- One of the things I really like about Composite C1 is it has the necessary tools already built into its user interface for quickly defining records, using common data types and later amending the definitions as required. This is very convenient and intuitive for evolving the database design according to the needs of the website without having to install other database creation tools like SQL Server Management Studio, making it highly suitable for those with little experience of SQL Server or who just prefer to work with the data in C1. Data fields can be created with names, descriptions and appropriate help text for end users.
- C1 is ideal for creating dynamic data driven websites, and therefore better for developing bespoke site functionality for customers who have specific functional requirements. A CMS like WordPress is not really designed to build or operate with custom data. It operates primarily as a blog with static pages. You can search for simple WordPress "database" plugins, but this is often a compromise that only half matches your needs. Composite C1 has the advantage in that it is a completely flexible CMS.
- C1 provides its own internal code editors if you do not have access to Visual Studio. However using Visual Studio provides Intellisense (source code syntax validation and auto completion) and many additional tools when writing code. The book provides advice and tips for getting the most out of Visual Studio.
Are you overwhelmed by the Composite C1 documentation and in which order to do things?
The many features in the Composite C1 user interface can be a little overwhelming for “newbies”. Getting to grips with its principles and knowing which parts of its vast online user documentation and videos to use, and in what order, can be time-consuming and confusing.
Perhaps you have already tried using the online documentation?
Maybe you found yourself constantly referring back to it, and swapping about within the many topics trying to make sense of what order to do things?
The Composite C1 documentation and video resources made by Orckestra (the company behind Composite C1) are for the most part excellent quality and provide a good start, but I have found that it is lacking in some respects, perhaps in the assumption that most people who want to use C1 either;
a) Have a high degree of technical development ability themselves, or
b) They have access to in-house developers or pay external consultants with good experience and knowledge of Composite C1.
The Composite C1 Tutorial e-book is designed to act as a supplement and guide to the online documentation and videos provided by Orckestra at the Composite C1 documentation website.
It also aims to bring Composite C1 closer to beginners by expanding on concepts and by providing simpler and clearer explanations of the terminology and functions of Composite C1, in a top-down step-by-step fashion.
Shortcut links to the original C1 documentation are provided in the e-book so as to take you quickly to the appropriate resource where relevant and provided the original material already covers the topic sufficiently (there is no point in duplicating in the book information provided adequately elsewhere).
In the next few sections you will learn more about the features and benefits of the Composite C1 Tutorial e-book....
Why should you get the Composite C1 Tutorial? Learn the main reasons why you will benefit from using the book.
What Tutorials are provided in the book? This is an overview of the many step-by-step procedures contained in the book. All are generously illustrated with many screenshots, tips, notes and any warnings to be aware of!
What other information does the book provide? These topics could be considered "miscellaneous", but are often equally as important. They're not tutorials as such. There are also a number of Appendices covering more technical aspects and including code samples.
Why you should have
Composite C1 Tutorial
by your side.
Please click the headings below to expand and show answers.....
Why should you download the Composite C1 Tutorial e-book?
- Written according to "real-world" needs and problems based upon personal experience, and taking into account the whole design, build, host and deploy procedures, and the kind of issues you can expect to face (as can be encountered with any CMS system).
- Designed to save you time from searching for answers to some problems that are just not available in the Composite community forums. Answers learned only through months of hard work, developing with real systems and lots of trial and error.
- Explains the Composite C1 pricing structure and considerations for large-scale project costs when hosted on Microsoft Azure for scaling and/or load-balancing.
- Provides a top-down and step-by-step approach to building web sites using Composite C1.
- Teaches you how to create great looking, functional and responsive mobile-friendly websites.
- Provides real world examples of code for templates and implementing third-party designed responsive Bootstrap templates available from sites like www.WrapBootstrap.com or created by the Visioneer software (recommended by Composite C1).
- Composite C1 comes with a few starter sites (themes) to get you going, but many developers/designers soon feel the need to use a different style for their site. C1 makes use of the industry standard Bootstrap themes and these can be chosen, purchased and integrated with the site by defining a “master layout”. This book has a whole section dedicated to integrating themes, including adherence to standards and the errors that are symptoms of not doing this properly.
- Explains how to save money and things to look out for and when choosing a Windows web hosting provider (with details of “gotchas” encountered beyond the basic technical specification provided on the Composite C1 web site).
- Can help you evaluate whether Composite C1 is the right free open source .NET CMS for your projects by providing reviews and behind the scenes understanding of the full process required to get a site up and running, plus potential upgrade costs if you need to move to the commercial model.
- How to set up Visual Studio, useful Visual Studio extensions to use, best settings for editing Razor code (to prevent the VS editor automatically doing some very annoying and buggy reformatting of your source code!), best project file locations, etc. Many of these practices are good considerations when working with other CMS solutions too.
- Focuses primarily on the use of C# Razor syntax for coding functions and web pages.
- Packed with advice, tips and recommendations.
- Many screenshots showing UI examples, software configuration, etc.
- Explains important technical pre-requisites and gotchas.
- Examples and explanations of common errors that may occur.
- Expands on many of the concepts, data types and structures you will use when working with Composite C1.
- Much content is based upon questions from other developers.
- Discusses considerations for good Search Engine Optimisation (SEO).
- The e-book considers and details the use of the Composite C1 XML-based datastores only.
- It does not cover working or designing with SQL databases (this is beyond the scope of this book) however switching between the two database types is easily achieved. The book contains a whole section discussing the pros and cons entitled: Which C1 Database: XML or SQL? There are several good reasons for sticking with the XML database!
- Learn how to make the C1 Visual Editor (WYSIWYG content editor) work with your chosen template, and what the editor is and isn’t capable of, and how you can control and make it easier for users to add complex CSS styling effects which they can insert into page content.
- Discussion of the Composite C1 Community Forums.
What Tutorials are provided in the book?
- How to install and setup basic C1 demo website:-
Walk-through of choices for learning how to use it, or a bare-bones start when creating a brand new website.
- How to configure Internet Information Server:-
How to setup IIS for local (same machine) development previewing. While it is perfectly adequate to use the Visual Studio built-in web engine (hit F5 to run/debug and preview C1 websites) this section is useful to learn how to work with IIS 7.0, set permissions, configure hosts and dummy domains and so forth.
- Create and configure a new site Home page:-
Relevant settings and SEO considerations. How to associate dev and real Domain Names (plus any aliases), with the new home page, including special site preview URLs that your web space may provide for testing.
- Configuring IIS for preview and testing as if it were a live site (optional):-
Discusses deployment using Visual Studio Publish Website feature and potential problems of overwriting content created by Users plus How to backup the XML datastores.
- Creating Razor Page templates:-
Discussion of page templates creation procedure and advice on building and testing features like headers, footers, page navigation menus, Google Analytics, business contact details, and so on.
- Creating Page Types:-
Explanation of what page types are used for and their various settings.
- Creating Razor Functions:-
Explanation of one of the central concepts in C1, location and viewing in Visual Studio, naming and namespaces.
- Page Templates, Page Template Features and LESS/CSS:-
Explanation of what these are used for, where they are located and how CSS files are referenced by the template. A major stumbling block for many people.Also provides advice regarding location of jQuery script tags, and location of packages used to comply with EU Cookies Directive to ensure correct functioning.
- Creating a new template Master Layout:-
- How to create Navigation Menus:-
Make one of the Navigation Menu add-on packages supplied with C1 work with your chosen responsive Bootstrap theme to provide your main website menu.
What other information does the book provide?
- How to setup and use IIS Remote Admin:-
All web hosting providers provide a web-based control panel, and some Windows web hosts provide access to your server using the IIS Remote Admin service so you can administrate your web site using your local IIS Manager. Learn how to install Remote Admin and setup a connection in IIS.
- Deployment to Live Site:-
This section details important practical considerations before deploying the new site, settings for the site root folder, off-line or maintenance mode, deployment methods, file permissions, MIME types, web space holding pages, hosting provider preview URL issues, and problems associated with configuring preferred domain (in Plesk Control Panel and C1).
- Discussion of the C1 Visual Editor:-
This covers problems and inadequacies of the C1 Visual Editor (and its use of TinyMCE) along with suggestions for workarounds and solutions for content editors (Decorative Functions to insert styled features).
- Configuring SMTP Server for the C1 Contact Form add-on:-
This section provides a procedure for creating a Contact Us page, and discusses what can be a tricky area with considerations for dev/live setup and testing, deploying, further testing and tweaking the SMTP mail settings and contact form according to the email authentication requirements of your web hosting provider (e.g. for if you must use the providers SMTP server rather than your own domain name, and/or must specify valid FROM account for your domain). Also suggests changes to the source code of the Contact Form add-on to provide additional mail authentication parameters for special authentication as mentioned above.
- Notes on Robots.txt and Sitemap:-
This section explains how to configure robots.txt and how sitemap generation works in Composite C1, and what to do if a C1 demo starter site is running in parallel with your new website.
- Which C1 Database: XML or SQL?
Many developers would probably think it a no-brainer to switch Composite C1 to use SQL Server (you can easily port back to XML if necessary), but unless you plan to design a complex or very large database or the site is likely to have high traffic levels, there are several good reasons for sticking with the XML database. This section outlines a variety of pros and cons to help you decide whether XML is perfectly adequate for your needs.
The book has a number of appendices which contain information of a more technical nature. These cover the following topics:-
- Navigation Menu example code.
- Notes on Site Deployment strategies using FTP Software
Instead of the Visual Studio Publishing Tool which automatically tries to deploy items you don’t necessarily want to transfer and with very little control over the whole deployment process.
- Recommended software to create FTP “projects” for one-time setup, with accurate repeatable folder/file selections for easy deployment repetition.
- Provides information specific to Composite C1's App_Data and Bin folder structures;
a) What files should be deployed,
b) Which ones can be omitted/ignored, and
c) Which datastores are shared by developer and end-users
(i.e. care is required not to overwrite changes made by content editors, particularly after a site has gone live). This information can generally only be found by digging through discussions on the C1 Community Forum and more in-depth C1 Version Control documentation. This appendix provides the required details.
- Discusses first-time bulk deployment and subsequent partial deployments.
- Tips for reducing deployment times, unnecessary file transfers and save web space on live server.
- Choosing a Web Hosting Provider
While the Composite website provides the main technical specification and requirements for C1, this appendix provides additional good advice about problems and experience gained that should be considered before purchasing appropriate web space to host the site. It includes a whole section explaining what Microsoft Azure is, how much it costs and Composite C1 Pricing if you need to upgrade from the FREE Open Source edition (there is a stinger!).
- Windows 8/10 Permissions error
How to resolve “Failed to enumerate objects in the container, access denied”.
- How to install IIS. This is a fairly easy process detailed in this appendix.
- MasterLayout source code. Example code so you understand how a master layout is setup, important C1 variables, page template features and functions.
- Decorative Functions. Sample code for creating functions used by the Visual Editor for users to insert nicely styled theme features.
What is planned for future releases of the book?
In preparing the first release of the Composite C1 Tutorial e-book I have tried to provide a comprehensive and practical approach to using Composite C1 in the most productive way.
This book covers many different topics and provides many tutorials and discussions in one place, and while I have endeavored to provide a rounded choice of subject matter there will always be room for improvements! With this in mind I welcome any ideas for new topics.
My intention is to provide a second manual that will contain additional tutorials with more advanced levels of development and further examples of real pages from customer websites using the Razor language to create dynamic data-driven pages. You will be able to view the code and see the kind of results Composite C1 can produce when used in conjunction with all the bells and whistles of Bootstrap themes.
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Learn to develop C1 CMS websites Quickly & Profitably.
The Composite C1 Tutorial puts you in the driver’s seat of this powerful and flexible open-source CMS, offering an extensive array of solutions and step-by-step blueprint for your projects. Jam-packed with proven tips and techniques for web developers, you’ll discover how to effectively use Composite C1 to meet your needs. It will make the world’s best, free, award-winning .NET CMS work for you.
After purchasing you will get instant access to download Composite C1 Tutorial which is an Adobe Acrobat Reader PDF format e-book with 200+ pages.
Real-world: Many tutorials are simply theoretical examples. This book is based on actual websites and real hands-on experiences.
Save time - Be more profitable: Provides answers to problems not easily found elsewhere. The groundwork has been done for you. Understand the costs involved and benefit from paying for only the services you require.
Learn more: This is much more than a tutorial. How many tutorials also cover how to work with your development tools? Visual Studio and IIS are discussed in depth. Browser developer/debugging tools are explained. Workarounds and solutions to shortcomings are given.
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Composite C1 Tutorial offers excellent value for money especially when you consider you would have to pay hundreds of pounds in enrollment fees to attend online or on-site "bootcamps" (typically 2 days). Then there are the additional costs and inconvenience of traveling and overnight stays. Even single-day development courses can cost in excess of £500 or more.
No Subscription Fees - Many tutorial websites charge around $15 or more every month for access to their archives, but once again you will find they are usually theoretical. The information in the book was gained through hard work developing actual websites for customers.
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C1 Tutorial will provide you with point-to-point guidance that will assist you making C1 websites without wasting time and money.
"Once I got through the learning phase, solved any problems and became more confident I began to enjoy using Composite C1 more. I was very satisfied with the websites I created and my clients were delighted with the final results and the fact they could easily add and modify data completely relevant to their business requirements.”
P.S.: You might be wondering how I can be so super confident about the information provided in this book. The reason is Simple- All the advice it contains is based on strategies I use to rapidly create multiple C1 websites.
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