Guy MacArthur Team : Web Development Tags : Web Development Umbraco

The Umbraco CMS List View - A simple solution, with an epic fail

Guy MacArthur Team : Web Development Tags : Web Development Umbraco

The list view data type is a great attempt at a solution to the Umbraco CMS’s large node set problem. Unfortunately, it doesn’t fix the issue, yet.

The Umbraco CMS is free, feature rich, fast and easy to use. As such, it’s a great contender to other paid higher end CMS products out there. One thing that’s been holding it back though is support for large sets of child nodes (pages, media).

Page and media nodes are displayed in a tree structure. When a parent node has a handful of children, everything is within eye view and easy to find.

Umbraco content tree

When the number of children grow the tree quickly becomes useless for that section of child nodes. In the example above, you see only 4 child nodes and it’s simple to manage. Consider tens, hundreds or thousands of child nodes and the issue of unmanageability becomes readily apparent.

There have been a few workarounds to handle the issue such as creating intermediary nodes like date or category nodes break up and group pages, or creating your own custom section and data store to allow the developer to control how to store and display the nodes in a better way for large sets. These approaches take extra time and effort to implement though, and have their own drawbacks.

To combat this issue, what the team at Umbraco has done with the release of version 7 is provide with a new option to show a node’s children in a list on the editing page.

Umbraco list view example

It’s a great solution when working with those larger sets. A simple paged list shows all of the child nodes and even supports searching. Problem solved… almost.

What people came to find out, is the new data type looks great and has some great features, however, as the set of child nodes grows, the loading time of the grid gets longer. People have been reporting response times of a few seconds for sets starting at 60 nodes, up to minutes for sets in the thousands.

Being able to make a cup of tea, while waiting for a navigable list of pages to render makes for an epically poor user experience, and in some cases, this feature is just unusable.

There is hope though. There is a ticket open for the issue and the guys at HQ are on the job trying to resolve it hopefully in version 7.2. If they can finally put the large node set problem to rest, the most crippling issue of this CMS left to date will be addressed.

Fingers crossed we won’t have to wait long, and when it does come I’ll really need to fight the compulsion to go back through all my old client sites and try to rebuild them.