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What's new in Umbraco 14

Insight Published on 24 June 2024

Nick Collins is a Senior Front-End Developer and our internal expert on all things Umbraco. As an Umbraco Certified Master, he has helped our clients upgrade their websites, ensuring a great user experience for visitors and a user-friendly CMS for content editors. In this article, Nick looks at why the latest release of Umbraco, Umbraco 14 is a big deal and the benefits it will bring.  

About Umbraco 

Umbraco is an open-source content management system (CMS) built on .NET and is highly regarded within the CMS community for its editor experience and developer flexibility. Umbraco powers some of the world’s leading websites including those of Mercedes Benz, Domino’s Pizza, Carlsberg, and Volvo. 

After evaluating various CMS platforms, PDMS opted for Umbraco for its flexibility, user-friendliness, scalability, customisability, and security. As an Umbraco Silver Partner with over a decade of experience in Umbraco, we have implemented commercial and public sector websites of various sizes and complexities. 

What's new in Umbraco 14?

Umbraco 14 marks a major milestone with its focus on customisability and extendibility. This new release includes improvements in tooling, testing, performance, and scalability. Perhaps the most notable change is the complete rebuild of the backoffice, designed to improve the experience for both developers and content editors. In this blog, we will focus specifically on the backoffice rebuild and the new management API. 

Backoffice rebuild: Out with the old, in with the new

While the Umbraco backoffice may not look that dissimilar to previous versions, it’s the technology that has been upgraded.  

User Interface

Prior to Umbraco 14, the backoffice user interface had been built using AngularJS, a popular framework used by developers to create interactive and responsive applications that allowed changes on a web page to happen instantly without needing to refresh on the server. However, AngularJS reached end-of-life (EOL) on 31st December 2021. 

The backoffice UI is now built using a library called Lit which was released in 2021. Lit is a simple tool for building fast, lightweight Web Components which allow developers to build reusable custom elements using their native browser features. You might be wondering why Umbraco selected Web Components over a framework such as React or Angular, and these are just a few snippets from GitHub explaining why: 

"We have a firm belief that sticking with the browser standards will continue to evolve and benefit us in the years to come. Therefore, we have chosen to build the new backoffice UI with Web Components."
"Building our software with Web Components - a native web standard - ensures that our software works and will keep working for at least a longer period than any external library will. The APIs will keep getting updated along with the browser itself, patching any security vulnerability along the way."

You can read the full Request For Comments (RFC) here: Implementing the new backoffice. 

The deprecation of AngularJS isn’t the only reason for the adoption of Lit and Web Components. The world of the web moves quickly and as a result, many new tools and features become available to help build modern web applications. The new backoffice UI makes long-awaited use of TypeScript which brings the benefits of strongly typed JavaScript to Umbraco. 

Despite the decision to use Web Components over a library or framework such as React or Angular, Umbraco has said developers extending the functionality for the backoffice are free to use any framework and libraries of their choice. 

Management API 

Umbraco has also developed the new Management API to enhance communication between the backoffice and backend. This redevelopment has significantly improved the internal architecture of Umbraco and allowed a clean separation of concerns. 

The introduction of this Management API completes the full Umbraco headless capabilities, enabling it to run without a user interface. This allows for integration with other systems or build your own, providing headless capabilities for content, media and backoffice management. This opens up new opportunities for Umbraco to integrate with almost anything, including if you need to add content management capabilities to an external service or application. 

With the headless CMS capabilities, you gain increased flexibility and scalability as there isn’t a front-end to dictate how or where the content is displayed. Since the content is delivered via APIS, headless CMS enables efficient multi-channel publishing across various platforms and devices such as websites, mobile apps and more compared to traditional CMSs. This approach also frees you from the limitations of built-in templates and design constraints, allowing you to easily scale projects and independently upgrade the front end (presentation) without impacting the back end (content storage).  

What does this mean for me? 

Umbraco is constantly evolving, with a new major version launched approximately every six months. In this article, we highlighted the most significant updates for version 14. If you’re currently using Umbraco for your business, it’s worthwhile checking which version your site uses.  

Many popular previous Umbraco versions are fast approaching or have reached “End of Life” (EOL) status. Umbraco 7 reached EOL in September 2023, Umbraco 8 will be in the same situation in February 2025, and Umbraco 10 in June 2025. Upgrading your Umbraco website is a worthwhile investment to maintain security, improve performance, and take advantage of new features. Plus, if you haven’t refreshed your website for a while, it’s also a great opportunity to review its performance, design, and content.  

What's next? 

Umbraco is a very powerful and customisable CMS, and version 14 is just one example of some of the new functionality that becomes available as it evolves. Umbraco 15 is expected to be released on 14th November 2024, followed by the next long-term supported (LTS) version, Umbraco 17, which is expected to be released on 27th November! 

If you are interested in moving to Umbraco from another CMS or upgrading your existing Umbraco CMS, please get in touch, Nick and the team would be happy to chat with you!

Topics

  • Umbraco
  • Web Development
  • UX Design