I've previously blogged about 5 awesome UI improvements contributed by members of the Episerver World community. In fact, there were so many of those, I had to follow up with another 5 awesome UI tweaks.
But this is a blogpost about all the feature requests that haven't been properly solved. Either no-one has taken the time to put together a hack, or the proposed solutions are flawed, or just stuck at the prototype stage.
I've scoured the Feature Request forum and blog posts from recent years, to find which features are most requested/debated, have the most attempts at a hack, and would add usability without adding bloat. Most of them are low-hanging fruit that Episerver could easily implement.
1. Convert blocks
For a long time, there's been a built-in admin tool for converting pagetypes (with property mapping to avoid losing stored data), but never a similar tool for converting blocks. This would be handy whenever you refactor blocks in code, but don't want to recreate every block manually. Judging by the amount of upvotes for this request (from 2014), there's a real demand for having this as a built-in admin tool instead of having to resort to crude database hacks. Bulk converting would be handy, too (if used with caution!)
2. Upload functionality in content selector dialog
So you're about to insert an image or file into your content, but before you can select it, you have to first upload it. Which currently means you have to close the content selector dialog, go over to the Assets pane, upload your file, then back to your content, THEN insert the image/file. This is easily one of the most common groans we hear coming from Epi users, and it should be fixed.
Update: Grzegorz Wiechec has posted an awesome hack where the content selector is replaced with a new version, that has a better asset browser, a search field, thumbnail previews AND an upload option! @Episerver: put this in the core ASAP!
Update 2: It's finally in the box! As of Episerver CMS 11.12.0, The content selector now has a built-in upload option.
3. Search box in ALL content selector popups
Whenever you're editing and you want to reference a particular page/asset/block, you typically browse via the content selector. If you have a lot of pages, assets and blocks, manually browsing the nodes in your archive can be a chore - and you don't always find what you need. If the content selector popup always had a search box, editors would be able to find that page/asset/block much quicker when editing.
4. More context options in the page tree
Not much has happened with the page tree over the years - you can expand/collapse nodes, click to edit pages, and there's a limited context menu with basic options. Over time, several tweaks have been suggested, to give the editor more control over how to list, browse and edit pages in the tree. Many of these would let power users work more efficiently with multiple pieces of content.
Source: Feature request
- Update (April 2020): Episerver.Labs.Gridview is out as a more polished (but still unofficial) add-on for managing the page tree in a traditional or grid-based way (which started as a blog post Viewing the pagetree as a grid)
Update (April 2020): Episerver.Labs.ContentManager is a newly released (unofficial) add-on to purely manage content (pages, blocks and assets), without the context of a structured page tree or placement on a page.
- Opening pages in new tab (edit: source link gone) / in view mode
5. More built-in options in the Report Center
With site analytics software broadly available, interest in Report Center has understandably gone down. However, the power of having an integrated query/statistics tool available directly in Episerver should not be underestimated. While the current iteration of Report Center is mostly useful for hunting down 404s (Link Status report) and recently changed pages, it has the potential for so much more. Here are some ways Report Center could regain its status as a power tool:
- Implement a query builder UI that allows the user to fine-tune all sorts of result sets, and save the queries as new reports.
- Let the user export the queries/result sets from the query builder to common formats like xlsx, csv, xml, json.
- Expand the Link Status report columns so that the contextual location (link text, language branch) of the broken link is clearer.
- Make reports/result sets accessible through the API.
6. Admin tool to list page type usage
While Admin mode has always had an overview of existing content types (page/block types) and their properties, there was never a proper built-in way to track how those page types were used throughout the site. There have been several community hacks to list page type usage and even how many pages/blocks exist, and it's a tool that would benefit both site owners, power users and developers.
7. More granular control of items in the trash
All deleted content will get lumped together in the waste basket. While users can restore individual items, the only option to clean up is to delete all items. Users should be able to delete individual items, too. Showing a little bit more data about each item per row wouldn't hurt, either.
8. Proper built-in URL/redirect management
While Epi is good at handling content references internally, its ability to correctly handle incoming URLs to content that has been renamed/moved/deleted or had its URL segment changed, is not sufficient at all. In short, there is no built-in GUI support for letting power users manage redirects for various states like 404, 301 or 302.
This feature is so highly requested that several plugin solutions exist, from commercial to open-source, and probably several other closed-source solutions at various implementations partners. Making developers rely on third party plugins for something that should be considered a core feature is not a good thing.
Source: Every single Episerver implementation ever
9. New editor / Markdown support
Because of the way the text editor is tightly integrated into the UI, Episerver has been stuck on an old version of TinyMCE for a long time. Newer TinyMCE versions exist, that would provide more functionality, better standards support and a smoother user experience. This request should really be higher in the list (because practically everyone is screaming for it), but realistically, the transition will take quite some time to complete (work is underway, though).
A new editor would enable additional features such as Markdown support - useful for storing content in delivery-channel agnostic format (i.e. not just as HTML, as it is today.)
Source: Pretty much every Episerver user. Also, feature request.
Update (March 2018): It's in the box! Episerver finally updated TinyMCE, and made the package much more maintainable.
Other hacks available:
- Ted made a plugin supporting Markdown for string properties.
10. Overlay label for content areas
This one is actually a tiny feature request, but it highlights an annoying UI inconsistency. The unexpected amount of upvotes shows many others feel the same way about it.
Update: Overlay labels for content areas was added as a core feature in CMS UI 11.1.0.
2017 was the year for expanding the Episerver product family. Perhaps 2018 should be the year for showing some love for the core CMS product?