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Build versus Buy

2 posts, 0 answered
  1. Gabe Sumner
    Gabe Sumner avatar
    1 posts
    Registered:
    01 Feb 2007
    22 Aug 2007
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    I have spent the day evaluating Sitefinity; as usual Telerik has created another incredible product.

    However, just as with any other CMS I’ve evaluated I find myself struggling with the “build versus buy” dilemma. I have a couple projects on my plate right now that require a CMS. Sitefinity will not address the complete needs of either project out of box.

    One of the projects requires products, product categories, a product search, a shopping cart & a checkout system. I also need to be able to associate “Related Products” with each content page. The project also requires events that can be scheduled and subscribed to.

    Imagine a blog/events web site with online products associated with all content. The associated products need to be customizable per content page.

    I comprehend that I can “extend” Sitefinity with modules, but I would want to make core changes to how the page editor works. For each page I want to be able to select products to associate with the page. I would also need to build a product manager and an event manager.

    Building a CMS is a pain. I would love to avoid it. Each time I encounter a new project I evaluate another half-a-dozen CMS products. Each time I just end up building my own custom CMS system. These home-grown systems lack many of the bells & whistles, but they get the job done. This seems to be the only solution that doesn’t involve compromising the web site’s vision to conform to how a given CMS works.

    I understand all the advantages of building on an established product, but I also understand the danger of straying from the “factory install” of that product. Chances are, when the next version comes out all my customizations are going to break. Good luck when that happens!

    Anyway, I’m hoping someone will show me how I’m being an idiot because I would really love to figure out how to make this work. I’ve read article after article about how CMS products can eliminate months of web site development and get you laid. In my experience, I have never encountered one project that has seemed “do’able” with any CMS products I have encountered.

    That includes, unfortunately, Sitefinity…which is, without doubt, one of the best CMS products I have seen.

  2. iosmak
    iosmak avatar
    18 posts
    Registered:
    12 Oct 2006
    22 Aug 2007
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    Hi Gabe,

    First of all : you are not an idiot :), buy or build is a valid dilemma. Also, you are quite right when you said that Sitefinity for the moment being does not have “product manager” or e-commerce.

    However, I’d like to address your worries about going with Sitefinity and then getting stuck with it. Sitefinity, after all, is built for developers. I think it’s a bit wrong perspective to look at Sitefinity as a product with certain number of rigid features. A better way to think about Sitefinity would be to think of it as a product with certain number of features that you can get out of your way instantly. The important thing to understand is that, yes, Sitefinity can be extended through custom modules, but it can also be modified through it’s API.

    Let’s take the “related products” problem you’ve mentioned. If you really think of it, you don’t want to change some property of a page (like url or title), but you want to be able to change certain part of each page (the part where links to related products are). So, I’d take another approach here. I’d create a user control for displaying related products. In that user control I’d make a property RelatedProductIds. Then whenever user would drag the “related products” control onto the page, they would click “edit” and select the products they want to appear there. Take a look at the “Lists” control and how you can choose any number of lists to be displayed in the control. So instead of lists you would choose your products. Also, you could go even further and make some kind of search engine that would try to match the content of the page with related products, so users wouldn’t need to select anything.

    Obviously, as I have already stated, the “product manager” module you would have to build. So you end up with building one custom module and one user control, instead of building everything from the scratch and provide a solid ton of bells and whistles :).

     I hope I was clear as I was enthusiastic. If you’d like to answer some additional questions, please feel free to do so. In the mean time, you can check out the developers blog where I’m blogging about Sitefinity from developers point of view.

    Regards,
    Ivan

2 posts, 0 answered