Further reading

This is our blog. It contains the latest news and announcements about our open-source projects, services, and products; not least, there are gripping case studies, customer projects, and much more.

Offering help to the victims of the war in Ukraine

As we've published in our previous blog post week, when the war in Ukraine broke out, we immediately provided a monetary donation to the Hungarian Charity Service of the Order of Malta for humanitarian aid to Ukrainian refugees. Now, we announce two more measures to aid the victims of the war, as we strongly feel that it is our responsibility as well to take advantage of our lucky situation since we are not being directly affected: Just as during the pandemic to manufacture reusable textile face masks, we've again partnered with the artisan clothing small business Borsika Portéka: This time, they've produced more than 200 large-sized polar blankets that Maltese social workers will hand out to refugees at the Hungarian-Ukrainian border. The blankets were produced at manufacturing cost, fully sponsored by Lombiq. See the pictures below! We hereby offer direct help to Ukrainian refugees coming to Hungary: Are you a software developer working in .NET and/or web development, or work in similar areas (you can check out our open-source activities here)? Or do you think we could otherwise work together? Then we can provide you with work and figure out your and your family's stay in Hungary. Contact us! We encourage you to donate as well to a sympathetic and reliable organization helping alleviate the humanitarian crisis. Our recommendation, as usual, is to help the Malteses. Update 27.03.2022: The Malteses have written an article about our donations too, check it out here.

War in Ukraine and Lombiq

The ongoing Russian-Ukrainian war put everyone in Europe, and globally as well, on the edge. As a company headquartered in neighboring Hungary, but with colleagues from multiple European countries, we're especially shaken. Seeing this level of military aggression is not something we believed can happen even two weeks ago. Fortunately, we have no team members in, or economic relations with any of the affected countries, and are safe under EU and NATO skies. We can continue to operate normally, as far as normalcy goes these days. Our lucky situation is also a responsibility, however. This is why we've answered the call of the Hungarian Charity Service of the Order of Malta and made our largest donation yet from our financial reserves. As a charity NGO, the Malteses provide humanitarian aid in the field, with their members helping Ukrainian refugees not just within the Hungarian borders but also in Transcarpathia, Ukraine. We're donating to the Malteses routinely due to their unfaltering professionalism and proven track record of alleviating social issues, thus providing help to them was an obvious quick choice. We also encourage you to donate to the Malteses for this cause here. To say that we're closely monitoring the situation would be an understatement. As the events unfold, we'll see when and where our help may be needed, or if we need to adjust how we run Lombiq.

Open-source Lombiq projects now published on NuGet

We have more than 160 open-source repositories under our GitHub organization, out of which more than 140 are somehow related to Orchard (including Orchard Core and 1.x). Up until now, if you wanted to utilize our projects in your own ones, you could only reference them as Git submodules or copy over the source files. Now, however, all the Orchard Core-related projects of ours, as well as several others, are available as NuGet packages! For those projects that are available on NuGet, now you'll see a NuGet shield in the Readme, like it's visible under Helpful Libraries (and for that, there is even more than one package!). Installation instructions and user guides were also updated to reflect that now you can use these projects both from NuGet and as the full source as Git submodules. Do you want to easily publish your projects to NuGet as well? You can build on what we've created for that: Take a look at our new GitHub Actions project that we developed with the help of Orchard community member Dean Marcussen. Here, among others, you can also find a GitHub workflow that fully takes care of publishing your project to NuGet for you. You just have to push version tags to your repository, and in a few minutes, the new package will appear on NuGet. This was a huge piece of work, but we're not fully done yet. Some of our projects aren't published on NuGet due to some specialties which cause projects depending on them to have a sub-optimal publishing story as well. You can track this effort here. We hope that this way, more people can make use of our open-source work, strengthening the Orchard ecosystem. Go check out our projects under the Lombiq NuGet profile!

Helping the City of Santa Monica with Orchard Core consulting

Did you visit Santa Monica before, either in real life or by checking out Del Perro Pier in the video game GTA V? If you did, then you know that the city is famous for its sandy beaches, palm trees, sunshine all year round, and... A new Orchard Core website! The website of the City of Santa Monica is under santamonica.gov. Before migrating it to Orchard Core it was running on Orchard 1, actually. That's when the City's government contacted us to request some Orchard consulting. The occasion was mainly that their new website was already in the works, though initially planned to be built on Orchard 1 too. We discussed the option to use Orchard Core instead, and the City, showing quite some courage to jump into a CMS new to them, opted with it. Orchard Core it is, then! During the better half of 2021, we've worked with the City as consultants. We gave recommendations, helped with blockers, did smaller development work (including a module to integrate the digital asset management platform Bynder, something we hope can be open-sourced), while the Santa Monica development team rolled out the new website. It launched not long ago, as we also published it on our Orchard showcase website Show Orchard. Just on the side, this was part of a move from on-premise to cloud hosting with Azure too, something we helped with as well, including setting up Azure Active Directory authentication. A wealth of telemetry collected with the help of our Azure Applications Orchard Core module assures that no error goes undetected, and the overall performance of the app can be closely monitored. The site also uses our Helpful Libraries, Helpful Extensions, Gulp Extensions, and NPM MSBuild Targets projects. We really enjoy working with the team at the City! This is what Prasanna Joshi, the City's Enterprise Architect and Digital Development Manager says about our collaboration: Lombiq is very helpful to get us where we are today. Lombiq not only provided development consulting but also answered our developers’ questions on time. They were instrumental in helping us set up an Azure environment for the Website. Lombiq also assisted in creating short-term and long-term solutions for our approach. We continue to rely on Lombiq's expertise as we move to the next phase of the project. Do you also run an older Orchard 1 site that could benefit from the move to the latest Orchard Core? Drop us a line and we can help you make it happen!

Lombiq is 8 years old!

Today is the 8th anniversary of founding Lombiq! On this special occasion, we have gathered 8 important factors of our company's life. We are glad that we took these steps at that time otherwise we might not be able to celebrate with our strong community here today. Is this your first time here? We at Lombiq Technologies are a software, training, and services company focusing on web development with open Microsoft technologies. Our main area of expertise is the Orchard Core CMS. We provide custom development, training, hosting, and consulting services, and we are behind the first (and only) Orchard CMS SaaS - DotNest. 1. 27.05.2013: Lombiq is founded by benedek.farkas and zoltan.lehoczky! The story just begins. Lombiq's zero-day service is Orchard Dojo (containing among others the vast knowledge base of Dojo Library; Orchard Dojo's content is entirely structured in the semantically searchable Dojo Graph). Orchard Magyarország is taken over by Lombiq and then Orchard Hungary is created. During the development of Lombiq's sites, Lombiq created and also released on the first day the Bootstrap-based theme Pretty Good Bootstrap Base Theme and the Read-only module for putting an Orchard site into read-only mode. 2. From 13.07.2013 Lombiq’s team has been constantly expanding with new members. A lot of talented Orchard developers joined also from university courses held by Lombiq. Students can join these courses since the spring semester of 2013 when we started the world-first university course on Orchard at Óbuda University. After joining our team, a 3 months long mentoring period helps the new members to get used to the new working environment and to take the first steps in their careers. For today, our team’s size has reached 18 members already, making us the biggest Orchard consulting team in the world. We're constantly seeking like-minded individuals to join our expanding team of developers and non-developers. 3. When we have a chance, we are trying to give back not just to open-source projects we love, especially Orchard, but also to local communities of ours. In a Hungarian town, Solymár an initiative, Fészek Waldorf School was started, that we decided to support with part of our corporation tax. Together with Parthus Sports Association, we wanted to build a new gymnasium, which now not only serves the school's pupils but also the town's 10 000 residents. Moreover, since the first wave of the pandemic we have already delivered 3800 reusable, washable textile face masks to the Hungarian Charity Service of the Order of Malta by joining forces with the artisan clothing small business Pacuha (they provided the masks on cost price that we paid for). The Malteses are a 1000-year old, global charity organization and one of the strongest, most impactful ones in Hungary: They have thousands of employees and volunteers operating hospitals, retirement homes, schools, and work hard on the field for the benefit of disadvantaged communities all across Hungary. 4. On 02.09.2015 our Hastlayer project is published for the first time at the FPL 2015 conference hosted by the Imperial College of London. Hastlayer is a tool that can automatically turn your .NET software into a hardware implementation, so basically a computer chip. This way your algorithm can potentially run much faster but still consume less power, especially if it's massively parallelizable. And we also want to put on a satellite! 5. During Lombiq's 8 years we had many chances to take part in conferences, where we could build our professional network, present our work and get opinions and feedback on it. Conferences have been always excellent places for meeting with people in our field from different geographical areas. Lombiq has been introduced already in the United States, India, Singapore, Japan, and many countries within Europe. 6. Since 16.05.2017 we have an event series, called Lombiq Talks out of the Box. Here anybody from our team can share something remarkable or any useful knowledge with others. If any of us is really good at something outside daily work, this is the place to show it. We have already had presentations about nutrition, Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies, a homemade sourdough workshop, and also personal finances workshop series. We are looking forward to have many more of these occasions! 7. The Lombiq Offline programs started back in 2013. Sometimes it's not just about work but doing something just for fun. These events are specifically for this: we get together, have to do something cool like breaking out of an escape room, going for a go-kart ride, or playing paintball. On these occasions, we can give space to increased communication, team building, and gather memories as a team in different fields. To highlight one of these events, from the 13th to the 16th of September 2019, we visited the CERN Open Days and had a trip to Geneva. On these special days CERN, the establishment of a European Council for Nuclear Research opens its doors to the public at the heart of one of the world’s largest particle-physics laboratories. 8. Last, but not least we are grateful for our partners. Our success is built and shared with the many partners we have worked with over the last 8 years. We can proudly state that we are working with international clients mostly from Western Europe and North America. We have already partnered with 110+ corporate clients from 17 countries in the world and successfully delivered over 300 projects, mostly from recurring customers.

Intensive Orchard Core training for the In Motion team

While we had and continue to have smaller online mentoring projects, as well as bigger trainings covered by NDAs that we can't talk about, here's finally a training that we can disclose: We recently had the opportunity to provide a five-day intensive Orchard Core training for the team of In Motion. Due to the pandemic, this happened online of course. Read more on our Orchard training website Orchard Dojo.

4800 masks for the Malteses and how we dealt with the coronavirus pandemic until now

Since our last post on the pandemic, we're over at least the first wave of it here in Hungary, though globally it's spreading faster than ever and there's no real end in sight yet. As an organization largely unaffected in our day to day operation we wanted to help in our local and broader communities where we can. Let's see! We were among the first companies to offer our expertise in remote education and remote work pro bono to the Hungarian education system. It's fantastic to see that a large number of companies did the same for the call of the ICT Association of Hungary, as well as part of the "Digital Collaboration" managed by a government agency. While as a remote-first, distributed team we don't have much of a physical infrastructure we do have an office in the inner city of Budapest that a cleaning lady helps us keep tidy. What Microsoft did with similar workers at their huge campus we did on a tiny scale and kept her paid throughout us working fully remotely and the office being closed. If it goes well for us then it should also go well for everyone working with us too. We ramped up our open-source activities a lot. Open-source is the backbone of IT and without IT there can't be an economy, especially not if everybody is social distancing. Contributing to open-source makes everyone benefit, not just in the times of a pandemic. And finally, we've delivered 1000 reusable, washable textile face masks to the Hungarian Charity Service of the Order of Malta by joining forces with the artisan clothing small business Borsika Portéka (they provided the masks on cost price that we paid for). The Malteses are a 1000-year old, global charity organization and one of the strongest, most impactful ones in Hungary: They have thousands of employees and volunteers operating hospitals, retirement homes, schools, and being on the field in disadvantaged communities all across Hungary. These masks will be used by senior residents of retirement homes, who are at the most risk, and by children in schools of the Malteses. Our contributions to the Maltesers' activities certainly won't stop here. And our team members all got similar masks too, they're pretty fashionable :). Our team, thankfully, stays completely healthy and to our knowledge, none of us got infected. Keep staying safe, everyone! Update on 24.07.2020: We've similarly delivered a second batch of 1000 masks to the Malteses. Most of these will be used in three retirement homes: One in Budapest, one in the nearby town Páty, and one in the town of Pestszentlőrinc (the pages are mostly in Hungarian but you can check out pictures). Update on 03.09.2020: And the third 1000 masks delivered! But we don't have a picture of this occasion, unfortunately :(. Update on 06.02.2021: Another 400 masks delivered. What makes it special this time is that these bear the logo of the Malteses! Update on 12.04.2021: Another 400 masks are there at the Malteses now. Sorry, no pictures this time. Update on 05.08.2021: And another 400 masks were delivered, branded with the Maltese cross but this time in blue: Update on 07.02.2022: Another 600 masks delivered!

Helping Kast build a multi-tenant platform on Orchard Core

Kast is an Australian company and one of their primary goals is to implement the Kast platform with the Kast Group Finder component. We worked together with Seth Cleaver (Co-founder and Director of Kast) on this tool to be able to create an intuitive self-service process that enables people within a church to easily find a suitable group to attend, simplify the administrative processes required for getting people into groups, and provide information to the group co-ordinators that might assist in planning and measuring effectiveness. Background information Every tenant of Seth's platform has a complex architecture that consists of two huge components: Event Management and Group Finder. Besides multiple church services, the Kast platform has a lot of events, including youth groups for a range of different ages, interest groups such as dances and art, men's and women's events, and so on. Some of these are single events and others are recurring. The Event Management component is responsible to provide the community and the members to easily discover these events using an attractive and easy to understand platform. They have two websites, all running on Orchard Core: https://www.kast.io/: The homepage of the Kast Group Finder. https://demo.kast.io/groups/: A demo website where you can experience the demo about the Group Finder. Since March 2019 we've been helping Seth to build the Kast platform. Before starting to code together, we started with a training to give an overview of what can be achieved with Orchard Core, how can you do the content modeling, build your own custom theme from scratch and use Vue.js in Orchard Core to create multiple apps. But what does Seth say about this? The team at Lombiq have been an integral part of the delivery of the first release of our SaaS product in 2019. Lombiq's unique combination of expertise, talent and experience mean that they not only understand the requirements of the project they are undertaking but how it contributes to the wider vision for your product. The value of this can not be overstated. Having personally been in the web development space for over 16 years, I have found that Lombiq are one of those rare finds that consistently deliver more than expected in all that they do. Now let's have a closer look at the Group Finder! But before doing that we have to get a deeper knowledge about how groups are made up. Overview of what we've developed First of all, every group has gatherings at different times. For example, a group could have gatherings every Saturday or every second Saturday at 4:30 p.m. - 5:30 p.m. To store the frequency of the recurring events that can be added to the user's calendar we decided to use RRULE strings. By using that we can programmatically define recurring and scheduled events. But of course, the users don't want to enter this kind of strings on the admin side of the site when creating happenings for the groups. We needed to implement a UI, where they can easily set up the start date and time with the end date and time and of course set the frequency. To solve this issue we implemented a form something similar that you can meet with on this page. This event date editor is created by using Vue.js. Many churches already maintain group information and more in a church management system (ChMS), therefore our next task was to do the integration between Seth and his company and Elvanto. Calling Elvanto APIs and parse the JSON response could be not so tricky, but constructing the Group content types based on the input data involved more work. The Group Finder app itself is a Vue.js application responsible for returning groups based on various search conditions. First, users have to provide a few details about themselves, then choose the relevant group types to show the right groups. For this, we needed to provide different pages with different kinds of forms. The Vue Router (which is the official router for Vue.js) is responsible for the navigation between the pages and to build this Single Page Application for easy usage. We used our open-source Vue.js module for Orchard Core to add the Vue.js component templates to Group Finder. If you are curious about how to use Vue.js within Orchard Core, you could see some great examples in our Orchard Core Training Demo module. There are many times when building an application for the web that you may want to consume and display data from an API. There are several ways to do so, but a very popular approach is to use axios, a promise-based HTTP client. When users get the list of the groups they can choose between them to find the relevant groups. When users would like to connect to a group, they need to send an expression of interest first with a personalized message. This means that the user, the group coordinators, and the group leaders will get an e-mail notification about the new person who would like to join the group. Conclusion The platform for Seth and his company involves lots of settings using the dashboard. By using Orchard Core, we could implement an interface for users with higher permissions to easily access the settings they need (and not more) without building the whole backend of the platform from the ground. Thanks to our new custom workflow tasks that users could easily set up, sending emails to the preferred addresses are solved in a very extensible way. And because Orchard Core itself also using Vue.js in some of the built-in modules, we didn't have to go far if we needed to find great examples to solve a given problem. Is your company also ready to make the Orchard leap? Let's have a call!

How we are dealing with the coronavirus pandemic

The coronavirus epidemic is quickly becoming a global threat. It's an exceptional time, a situation that most of us have never experienced on this scale. And of course, it affects businesses as well. We wanted to disclose, to all our friends out there, all the partners, customers, and suppliers alike, how we at Lombiq are dealing with the issue, minimizing the risk of any business disruption and any effect on our joint projects. Ours is a remote-first, distributed team thus we're less affected by travel restrictions and have a much lower risk of colleagues infecting each other. Starting last week we've been working completely remotely. Since our processes are entirely geared towards remote work our productivity stays the same. With 13 confirmed cases (out of a population of roughly 10 million) Hungary, our home country, has a relatively low number of infected people. Nevertheless, as a precautionary measure, the Hungarian government instituted certain restrictions on social gatherings and inbound travel to prevent a larger-scale outbreak. We don't expect these to affect our ability to work. At the time none of our team members are infected and apart from mild cases of seasonal cold everybody is healthy. By taking personal hygiene and disease prevention very seriously our team members protect their and their families' health so we can remain unaffected. We're working closely with all our partners on this matter to do what we can to keep the situation under control. We'll let the relevant parties know if anything changes in a way that would cause disruption in our projects. We hope everybody reading this, you and your whole team, and your families are safe and soon everything will return to normal. Let us know if we can do anything to help.

Improving your employment security with Orchard

Unemployment is thankfully not something you need to worry about too much if you're an Orchard developer and you're doing your job well. But if things do go south it's good to get some help, the kind that the Employment Security Department of Washington State offers, among a lot of other services. And maybe they'll hire you as an Orchard developer since their website also runs on Orchard! What's more, the website now includes a module developed by us too. That the ESD website runs Orchard you may have heard, since we've added it a while ago among the showcased Orchard websites on Show Orchard. While previously we've done some work on the State's Paid Family & Medical Leave portal as well the news is that the ESD website now also includes a 1.x port of the Orchard Core Content Preview module. If you don't know the Content Preview module allows you to open a live preview window of a content item in Orchard Core. With this, you can see how the content will look like in the context of the site's frontend, not just in the editor. It's very useful to get an actual "what you see is what you get" experience on each keystroke. We've ported this module from Orchard Core back into Orchard 1.x, taking care to also make it support TinyMCE and the Layouts module. It's now available in the official Orchard source so you can run it on your Orchard site today! Do you run an Orchard 1.x site but would like to see some new Orchard Core feature ported over? Let us know!