Saturday, January 29, 2005

Book Reviews: Building Websites with Microsoft Content Management Server

It's encouraging to receive reviews from our readers. Thanks for your kind words of support. The process of writing the book was certainly not easy and its good to know that our efforts have not been in vain. Once again, thanks for the encouragement!

niente0 on

I knew nothing about Content Management Server and bought this book based on the description that it was a "fast-paced and practical tutorial guide for C# developers". I had one weekend to read as much as I could before starting on a new MCMS project... and can't recommend it highly enough if you're new to the product.

It's easy to read and walks you through various topics from installation (which can be a minefield if you're new to the product) to creating and deploying a Website from scratch.

There are some great code examples for common tasks such as navigation etc and it covers other topics such as creating your own placeholder controls and customising the Default Console.

It assumes you know C#, but requires no knowledge of MCMS at all. I went from knowing nothing, to feeling I had a good understanding about what the product can offer in a very short space of time.

Buy this book if you're new to MCMS - it's worth every penny!!!

Rory on Rory's Street Blog"

This type of thing happens all the time, you take on what at the time was a new version of a product and you battle through all the vendors' documentation and various example code around the net to create your own solution out of it. Then all of a sudden somone goes and writes a book about all those things, and what a very good book it is I might say. The book I am talking about of course is Building Websites with Microsoft Content Management Server by Lim Mei Ying, Joel Ward and Stefan Gossner, this book serves as a good reference guide, but it also covers some other little known features such as placeholder templates.

The book provides a good end to end guide from getting started right down to some more complicated features of CMS such as creating your own placeholder controls and definitions. If you are serious about CMS development this book is a real must to add to your collection.

Varad Arasanipaalai (MD) on

Book is laid out very well. Plenty of practical examples which you can try as you read the book and implement a demo site. Goes far beyond any other book in explaining the CMS PAPI (Publishing API). Only grouse: It is written in C# which seems to be the norm for most CMS sites but in my implementation I use VB.Net although translating to is very easy. I've interacted with the Authors (Stefan Gossner and Mei Ying) through the microsoft.public.cmserver.general news group for several of my problems and they are very knowledgable in the CMS product. I dont know them personally though! If you want to learn CMS2002 in detail this book it worth the buy.

Euan on Joel's Tip o' The Day:

Hey Joel,

Got the book and I am *really* pleased with it. It reads very well and is easy to follow.I especially like the book because it details the steps of building a site from scratch. I inherited three MCMS sites from a development company a year ago and have stuggled through it but getting there. Now with the book already its clearing grey areas and giving me confidence in MCMS. Great stuff!

Dave on microsoft.public.cmserver.general

To other CMS administrators/developers,

I am Dave (from Lower Columbia College). I just wanted to place a
kudo/suggestion on this forum since I have come across a book that has been
soooo beneficial to installing/administering/developing the Microsoft CMS

After 20 years of working in the tech field and purchasing books for each
stage of need (i.e. C++, Windows Server, SQL, etc..), I thought no one could
beat the ease of use, friendliness and skill building ability of my favorite
series (Osborne, The Complete Reference ...., i.e. C++, etc..).

Well, a book has come out that has equaled (if not surpassed) this level of
publication ability. The book is "Building Websites with Microsoft Content
Management Server"
by (Lim Mei Ying, Joel Ward, Stefan GoBner). If you find
yourself needing help with CMS 2002, I would HIGHLY recommend this book.

One last note, I made up a quote a long time ago "It is easy to make a
program, it is hard to make a program easy". The same holds true for books.
Anyone can write a book, but to make it easy and useful takes a LOT of work.
Thank you to these authors!


Vincent Wright on microsoft.cmserver.public.general
(in response to Dave's post)

I agree with you on that. I bought their book too. It is great for the beginner that is learning CMS and great for anyone who wants to find out the easier way of doing things.Vincent

Guy Barrette on Universal Thread Magazine

"Building Websites with Microsoft Content Management Server" is from a small UK publisher called Packt Publishing. If you're into MCMS, the name of one of its authors must ring a bell. Stefan Goßner works for Microsoft as an Escalation Engineer in the Developer Support department and is very present on the Web and in the newsgroups. Chances are that if you already developed a MCMS site, some of Goßner's code must be in yours.

This is the perfect book to learn MCMS. The writing style and the pace are excellent; perfect for experienced .NET developers to learn MCMS. What I like the most is the fact that it's full of hints that let you bypass some known (or less known) problems that you may encounter with MCMS, saving you hours of researches on the Web.

I really loved this book, it's a diamond in a sea of stone: well written, informative, full of time saving hints. My only pet peeve is with the printing quality of the book. It's simply bad, looking like having been printed on a 300DPI home laser printer making reading some of the diagrams a little bit difficult. Packt Publishing should really look at this issue. Beside this somewhat minor problem, this is a book no MCMS developer should be without. High praises for "Building Websites with Microsoft Content Management Server".

Note: Since this review was writen, Damian Carvil, marketing manager for Packt Publishing, contacted me regarding the quality of the printing. Packt uses an interesting business model: they print thebooks on demand. This gives them some extra flexibility like being able to publish books that usually would not have found a publisher because they simply would not sell enough copies. They also don't have to deal with large inventories and return copies. Carvil says that this translates to higher royalties being paid to the authors. Since this on demand process is still in its beginnings, Packt knows the quality of printing issue and they are in discussions with the company that prints the books to address this problem. If you ask me, I think this is a great business model, worth mentioning. And if it means sacrificing quality a little bit to get great specialized books, I don’t see a problem.

Thursday, January 13, 2005

New MCMS Book now available!

The title that Joel, Stefan and I have written is available now.

Building Websites with Microsoft Content Management Server is an end-to-end guide to creating a Microsoft Content Management Server (MCMS) website. No prior knowledge of MCMS is required - this book takes you from the basics of MCMS, guiding you through everything you need to create a fully-featured, content-rich website.

Buy it now from the Publisher's site.

Update 14 Jan:
Read the Press Release

Announcements on
content management magazin

Monday, January 10, 2005

CMS vNext ... why so quiet ?

Mark Harrison lets on a little about the future of MCMS and SharePoint.

Thursday, January 06, 2005

Analyzing IIS Logfiles for an MCMS site

Once a website has been successfully setup, almost immediately, someone will ask “How many people have visited our site?”. Usually, you will pass the data recorded in the IIS log files to one of the many web log analyzers in the market. Popular web analysis tools (such as WebTrends) automate the task of calculating the number of visitors, page views and other site statistics commonly requested by site owners.

The trouble with MCMS is that the URL recorded for the same posting is not consistent, especially if you have chosen to use the Hierarchical URL Format. A request for a posting could be captured as:


Or, in it’s raw form:


Although both URLs point to the same posting, web reporting tools will consider them to be requests for 2 separate pages. As a result, some figures may be under-reported, especially if you have applied a filter which does not include the /NR/ folder or if you are looking to find out how many times a particular posting has been viewed. Reports like the one showing the Top 50 requested pages of the site will be littered with ugly URLs and the person reading it may not be able to make any sense out of it.

The solution is: To process the log file before analyzing it and convert all ugly URLs to friendly hierarchal URLs. There’s currently a sample available online: CmsLogFileReporting included as part of the MSIB+Pack. This an excellent tool that comes with source code so you can tweak it any way you like. Looking at the code comments, this is a newer version of the original CmsConvLog application uploaded to GotDotNet earlier. It also comes with a ready-to-use form interface, but I was lacking a MSIB + license so I couldn’t run that.

Nevertheless, it does provide source code. Based on experiences from automating numerous report generation processes of our MCMS websites, here are a few suggested tweaks to the package that may be done to get the tool to work beautifully for a site:

1. If you are not planning on processing the log files on a daily basis, you will have to get it to process more than one log file at a time. Probably the log files in a directory within a certain date range. To do so, you could program the input filename to accept a pattern instead of a name and write a simple iteration to call the method that does the conversion.

2. More importantly, if you have host header mapping turned on – this tweak is a must. The tool converts the ugly URL to a path. So the converted URL becomes / instead of /MyChannel/MyPage.htm. While this may be alright for sites that do not implement host header mapping, it becomes a problem for sites that do. If you are using WebTrends to analyze the log file, you will find that, after appending the sitename to the page, it becomes: (the converted URL)

which is not the quite same as that of the posting, which is: (the nice URL. Note that is only included once in the string)

You will still get the problem of the web reporting tool not being able to identify the two URLs as being that of the same posting.

To get around this, simply trim away from the returned Path.

3. It also converts URLs to Resources to Paths. While you probably won't have to change this, just bear this in mind when configuring filters based on resource file names in the web reporting tool, especially when it has spaces.

Once the log files have been converted, they can be processed with any web reporting tool like you would logs of traditional websites.

Here's to accurate reports!