It might seem odd for a web-based Content Management System to have a desktop application. But Sitefinity does, and there’s nothing odd about how well it works.
The Sitefinity Desktop App is meant for managing your website(s) from the desktop, instead of logging into the CMS in a web browser. Let’s take a run-through on using this app.
Why have a Desktop App for Updating a CMS?
Most updates made to a website should be done within the CMS itself. A desktop app just can’t reproduce those 100%. Desktop apps make handy add-ons though, for two reasons:
- A tool to have on hand if you aren’t able to login via the Web browser for some reason.
- Making updates offline for later upload.
Maybe you’re traveling where there’s no Wi-Fi. Or you’re at home, and you don’t have remote access there. But an idea struck and you need to make an update to the site! That’s when a desktop app is useful.
What can the Sitefinity Desktop App do?
According to Sitefinity’s Digital Asset Management page, the Desktop App can:
- Create new content blocks, news items, blog posts
- Manage image, document & video libraries
- Facilitate live Document editing
- You can even manage multiple sites right from here!
One notable exception, though: No Page Editing. If you want to edit/update live pages, you’ll still need to log into the CMS via a browser.
This does make sense; you need the RAD Editor to update a page. Running the RAD editor through a desktop app would probably mangle its usability! (Though I’m willing to bet Telerik is working on this for a future version.)
Logging into the Desktop App
I’ve tested the Desktop App for this post. I started by downloading the setup file & installing it. After the install completed, I was prompted to login to a Sitefinity website. Since this was a test, I chose one of our client websites to which I do not have administrative access.
I tried to use “Website Login”, but I received an error:
“Unable to Connect. Please make sure you have connection to the site and the Sitefinity DAM Module is active there.”
Ah ha! I tried to connect to a pre-6.1 version of the CMS! I switched to a more recent website & used that site’s login & password. Poof! Instant connection.
Here’s what the Desktop App looks like upon opening:
The Dashboard defaults to showing recently-updated items on the site. These are limited to the items you can modify with the Desktop App though – Content Blocks, Blog Posts and News Items. You’ll also find links to Sitefinity resources and documentation, in case you need to look something up before making updates.
Let’s make some updates.
From the “Create New” window we can add content to a website’s blog, news, document libraries and available content blocks. In fact, let’s start with the last one, Content Blocks.
Creating a Content Block
In Sitefinity CMS, a Content Block is a piece of content which you can add to multiple pages, news items, wherever the content serves your readers’ needs. Most often our clients will use them to create a piece of content, and then share that content across several pages.
I see in the Desktop App that editing functionality is on-par with Microsoft Word (the toolbar across the top). It’s missing a couple HTML functions–the functions you’d expect from the RAD Editor within the CMS. That’s okay; you still have plenty of tools to work with right here. I can even assign categories and tags before publishing the content block straight to the site (or saving locally for further editing).
Creating a Blog Post
Creating a blog post from the Sitefinity Desktop App looks & works almost identically to the Content Block. With two exceptions: Fields for selecting which blog you want to update, and a URL field to customize the blog post’s URL.
Creating News Items
The Create: News window appears the most similar to direct CMS editing so far. It includes fields for the Title and Content, as well as a Summary, an Author field, and fields for the news source name & URL. It also includes a checkbox for allowing/disallowing comments.
*Universal News/Blog Post Comments Policy: Do not allow comments on any post unless you’re prepared to deal with them. More on this in a future post.
Editing Documents in the Libraries
This particular client stores most of their downloadable data in PDF. Which, as you’d expect, the Sitefinity Desktop App can’t edit directly. However you can edit its Title, Tags, Categories and other document properties. This is what it looks like down the side.
Conclusion: Useful for Making Small/Offline Updates
The Sitefinity Desktop App serves best as a content updating method, not as a content creation method. I’d use it as a backup management tool, available when you’re offline or don’t have to make a big website update.
You can’t do everything with the Desktop App…but you can do quite a bit. I’ll keep mine around for making client site updates in the future.
Does your website run on Sitefinity CMS 6.1 or newer? Download the Sitefinity Desktop App here.