As Portland Labs rolls out the newest version update of its content management system, it does so with a re-branding of sorts. Known for years as Concrete5, the content management system Trivera has been recommending as its first choice for over a decade, the system will be now known, once again as Concrete CMS, its original name.
The name change aside, the more important news is the product itself. We've already had a chance to install the new version and can attest to the fact that Concrete CMS, Version 9 has plenty of new features that will keep it firmly planted at the top of our preferred CMS list.
The first thing we noticed was a new cleaner and brighter appearance for the admin UI/UX, which was already arguably the best, most intuitive in the CMS universe. It now has a more consistent look and feel through the functions and the editing sidebars that used to be dark are now bright windows with a light blue solid overlay with that clean, friendlier look extending to every dashboard and block interface.
One of the most significant features of Version 9 is its completely re-designed file manager. Finding information on a file in the past was a navigational process. Now it's a standalone page that allows you to see everything related to that specific file in one view. That view now includes all the help you need to understand what each of those details is there for, and what you can do with it. That is just one instance of the inline help feature that has now been extended throughout the entire dashboard. So now, as you're looking at something and wondering what it does or what it means, there's an opportunity to see it all right there without having to jump over to the help docs.
Stacks now have folders with the ability to quickly drill down, move around, and easily bring a block over. There's also something new called containers. Containers provide design elements that a site owner can reuse in different ways throughout a site. Containers let you cut your Concrete pages into multiple content sections using predefined markup that can be as simple as two column layouts or as elaborate as layout spread across multiple rows that behave differently based on different breakpoints.
These containers can also be used in something new called boards. Boards let you aggregate content from across your site, preview what it might look like, make some creation choices and have a homepage of updates itself.
If you have multiple content editors working on your site, and have struggled with finding a way to link to all that content, the new boards and stripes will let you snap them into filler slots to generate new content links to host posts to make a flipboard summary.
Also new to Version 9 is native support for running multiple sites out of a single install. That allows you to have different domains pointing to different subsites and assign permissions to different editors all managed in a single admin dashbard. If you have the right permissions, you can actually bring up two sites next to each other, drag pages from one into the other, share content between them, and even upgrade content in one spot and have everything be upgraded across as many of the domains as you need.
With all the new features and elements, a new base theme was needed to take advantage of them. So, with this new version comes Atomik, a theme built from the ground up for Bedrock, Concrete CMS and Bootstrap 5. Atomik showcases new block types like the top navigation bar, the accordion block, the core image gallery, the new feature link block, and the hero image block. It also incorporates the concept of color collections where themes can specify their foundational colors and make those available to core block types. Atomik also installs new types of sample content to really show off what Concrete is capable of, including a blog, built with the new board functionality that ensures dynamic layouts with a ton of flexibility for dynamic content placement.
In addition to the features in version 9 itself, Portland Labs is also building new community and marketing sites to support it. They are also updating their license model for add-ons to accommodate the new multi-site in a single site install.
In the past, Trivera has taken a more cautious approach to major upgrades. But our own experience, along with the feedback we've gotten from other agencies and developers has persuaded us to recommend an upgrade to Version 9 sooner rather than later to take advantage of the new features right away.
About Tom Snyder
Tom Snyder, founder, president and CEO of Trivera, a 25-year-old strategic digital marketing firm, with offices in suburban Milwaukee. Tom has been blogging since 1998, sharing the insight gained from helping businesses and organizations reinforce their brands by taking full advantage of digital and web technology as powerful tactics.
Photo Credit: Adobe Stock
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