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.

Municipal government permit management run on Orchard Core - GovTech company case study

Governments use Orchard Core too! Even in this blog, we've seen how Lombiq worked with the municipal government of Santa Monica and with the Smithsonian Folkways Recordings, which is an agency of the US federal government. But did you know that apart from flashy websites, Orchard can also provide important services for citizens behind the scenes? The multi-tenant case management platform of a GovTech company we worked with does exactly that: If you live in a US city, you may have dealt with your permit or other license via the platform! And as you may have guessed, we're working with the company as Orchard Core experts.We've been helping the company since late 2022 with a variety of Orchard Core consulting, troubleshooting, and development tasks. This started with a general review of the GovTech app, and how it's hosted in Azure, to find areas of improvement or potential issues. Since Lombiq has run Orchard, then Orchard Core projects, and hosted apps in Azure for a decade now, we can always pinpoint things we recommend changing.They also asked us to deliver some specific development tasks that improve the UX of the permit management platform or help the development team. Here's a quick overview of some of these: Setting up automated QA tools. For these, we utilized our Orchard Core-optimized projects: Lombiq UI Testing Toolbox for automated UI testing, Lombiq .NET Analyzers for checking the code for any possible issues, and Lombiq GitHub Actions to provide full-featured CI builds and Azure deployments. These all help keep the platform working well, improving the development team's productivity. A WYSIWYG editor for the Orchard Core admin area, utilizing the user-friendly Froala editor. Users of the platform weren't fully satisfied with Orchard's built-in editor, so this was a welcome improvement. Chunked file uploads: Hosting environments commonly have some restrictions on the size of an HTTP request. So, if you want to allow users to upload larger files, the app needs to upload them in multiple chunks (parts). This was important for them since files related to permit management can routinely grow beyond the usual size limits. So, we've implemented chunked file uploads both in the platform and as a contribution to Orchard Core. Since we at Lombiq are really focused on open-source, it's always great to work with clients who understand how the open-source ecosystem works and that you also have to contribute back. This is what their CTO & Co-founder says about us working together:Lombiq excels in SaaS technology development, particularly in the context of Orchard Core. Their distinctive expertise and capabilities enabled us to expedite the expansion of our platform. They were consistently responsive, delivered high-quality code, smoothly transitioned each project to our development team, and assumed full responsibility for their tasks. I highly recommend collaborating with them for any SaaS related project.Do you also work with government clients and want to make sure your Orchard Core app runs smoothly? Get in touch with us and let the Orchard Core experts help you!

Modernization and Orchard Core Migration of hastlayer.com

With a strong background in migrating websites to Orchard Core, we embarked on a journey to revamp hastlayer.com, the home of our cutting-edge .NET hardware acceleration project Hastlayer. This transformation was not merely a migration from the older Orchard 1 CMS; it was an opportunity to embrace Orchard Core's superior performance, modularity, and development experience. However, this migration was more than just a technical upgrade. It was a chance to refresh our website's appearance and align it with contemporary design trends. Hastlayer’s website was due for a facelift, its design needed a modern touch to resonate with current web aesthetics. Leveraging our expertise and experience, we utilized several of our own open-source projects developed over the years. Key Orchard Core modules such as Lombiq Privacy and Lombiq Helpful Extensions, along with utilities like Lombiq NodeJs Extensions, played a pivotal role. The Lombiq Base Theme as well as the theme of our company website served as the foundation for our theme, providing a robust starting point for customization. A distinctive aspect of this project was the creative process of reimagining hastlayer.com. Unlike client projects where we respond to external requirements and feedback, this was an internal endeavor. Collaborative brainstorming sessions shaped the vision and identity we wanted to communicate to our audience. We aimed to maintain a visual coherence with lombiq.com’s design, simultaneously, we aspired to inject a sense of uniqueness and distinction into hastlayer.com. To maintain simplicity, we reused numerous design elements and built upon them. Aligning the team's diverse perspectives required several iterations, but it ultimately led to a cohesive design that represented Hastlayer's ethos. The result is a revamped site that we are immensely proud of. It reflects our identity and the services we provide. We invite you to explore the new hastlayer.com and experience the innovation that defines us. As we revel in the success of this project, we look forward to future opportunities to renew and refine our digital footprint. Stay tuned for more exciting updates from Hastlayer, and more Orchard Core migration projects!

Git-hg Mirror is running on Orchard Core

Git-hg Mirror is a site of our own, that was previously built on Orchard 1 and was migrated to Orchard Core. The site is a simple-to-use (at least this is the intention) web application to automatically keep a Git and a Mercurial repository or two Mercurial or two Git repositories in sync. This allows you to create mirrors of repositories in the other version control system. The site’s FAQ page provides more information about the site’s purpose and functionality. This case study delves into the intricate journey of transforming Git-hg Mirror from its original Orchard 1 roots to the contemporary Orchard Core, highlighting the technical challenges and solutions that made this transition possible. Migrating a site from Orchard 1 to Orchard Core is beneficial because it allows you to take advantage of the latest features, improved performance and a more modern architecture, ensuring your website remains up-to-date and competitive in the ever-evolving digital landscape. As usual, we leveraged many of our own open-source modules that we've built and refined over time, such as Lombiq Helpful Extensions, utility modules like Lombiq NodeJs Extensions, Lombiq Base Theme as a base for the themes, Lombiq Hosting Tenants for tenant management, and Lombiq Helpful Libraries, as the name suggests, for generally useful libraries. The migration needed some work with User accounts (mainly a converter from Orchard 1 to Orchard Core and depersonalization maintenance, which is responsible for replacing the registered user's sensitive data like email address, the repository URLs or access tokens with randomly generated data for privacy reasons) thus this resulted in new additions to our open-source modules. Feel free to check these out, the User converter is now part of the Orchard 1 Recipe Migration feature and the depersonalization maintenance is included in the Lombiq Hosting Tenants project. Because of the user account migrations, the previously registered users will just have to reset their password the first time they try to log in, but they will get a notification about it and once they have done it, they will be good to go, nothing else has changed. We are happy with the results and the additions to our open-source modules and stay tuned, as we keep the migrations rolling.

Lombiq’s Journey with WTW’s Client Portal

WTW is a multinational company that provides businesses with various services such as insurance brokerage, risk management, and human resources consulting to help them manage risks and optimize their operations. Recently we had the opportunity to implement a specialized Orchard Core-based Client Portal for them. This portal, targeted towards insurance companies, was intended to be a replacement for an old portal used to download on-premises software & license keys, raise support tickets, and read knowledge base articles. WTW chose us to be partners on this project because we are large contributors to the open-source community, and found us to be knowledgeable and experienced based on our previous work. Our flexibility during the initial conversations was also a huge factor in their decision. With this opportunity, we got the chance to improve our experience in developing a user-friendly portal with a modern front-end framework and how it can be integrated into Orchard Core’s content management capabilities. The Client Portal, which was designed to be used by the customers, is just one crucial component of an overarching system architecture. The rest of the systems were responsible for managing software and license keys by administrator users. WTW specifically chose Orchard Core for this portal because of its robust content management capabilities. Content manager users now create announcements, external training materials, manage the product and services catalog, and arrange different widgets throughout the webpages using the Admin UI. Other components on the platform pull in information like product download links or license keys from other parts of the WTW system using web APIs. Given that it's a customer-facing portal, user experience was a priority. While it’s always a good idea to rely on Orchard Core’s display management the only way to use that is with page reloads during navigation between pages or filtering. Paginations are filters on the pages that should always be asynchronous, so we had to come up with a solution that uses modern front-end technology along with Orchard Core’s great features. During the course of this project, we’ve developed an open-source Vue.js module for Orchard Core to make user interactions smoother while still maintaining the built-in display management capabilities, such as widget and menu functionality. For quality code and maintainability, we utilized Lombiq's .NET Analyzers, Gulp Extensions, Helpful Libraries, Helpful Extensions, and NPM MSBuild Targets. Stability was critical, so we implemented several UI tests using the UI Testing Toolbox, ensuring they were executed before introducing a new feature using our reusable GitHub Actions. It was an exciting project and we delivered it on time. While the final steps on the rest of the architecture are being completed the whole portal is gradually being rolled out to users during the summer of 2023. If you're thinking about integrating a powerful CMS like Orchard Core into your architecture, we're here to help. We can either do the work for you or guide you through it in our consulting calls, just get in touch with us!

Teaming Up With Topcon Positioning Systems to Prepare Their Platform, Aptix, for Conexpo Demonstration

Are you in the construction industry and looking for a digital platform that can integrate with third-party apps and streamline your workflows? Or are you simply looking for an example of our coding expertise being put to good use? Either way, look no further than Aptix by Topcon Positioning Systems, a SaaS platform that offers a range of digital integration services to help construction professionals work smarter, not harder. And it's recently been spiced up with a touch of Lombiq! Construction works better digitally. Earlier this year, the Topcon Integration Services development team approached us at Lombiq to contribute to several key features on the Aptix platform. Over the course of several months, the two teams worked diligently on the platform to ensure Topcon meets their site functionality goals in time for their important platform demo at this year's ConExpo event. The Topcon Integration Services team at ConExpo. Our team primarily worked on the platform's integrations and workflows features, the former of which allows integrating various third-party construction-related apps, while the latter is built on top of the underlying framework with additional improvements. These tasks primarily included working with JavaScript front-end technologies and CSS theming tools to make the project more efficient. Joining a project with its own conventions and distinct technologies is always a challenge, but it's one we were happy to take on. While our involvement with the platform's development was relatively brief, it was also exceedingly productive, and the collaboration allowed the Topcon team to meet vital deadlines leading up to their presentation at ConExpo. Here's how Arra Derderian, Senior Director at Topcon Aptix, experienced our collaboration: The Lombiq team was able to ramp up quickly and help us meet a tight release deadline. The developers were knowledgeable and able to take instruction without a lot of overhead from our team. We appreciate the help they gave us to meet our milestone. Our expertise is available for both long-term and shorter projects. Should the opportunity interest you, here is where you can learn more about how we can help you work more efficiently and effectively.

How we renewed and migrated lombiq.com from Orchard 1 to Orchard Core

We have a fair amount of experience with migrating different sites from Orchard 1 to Orchard Core. For example, we migrated Folkways. Now we had a chance and time to use our knowledge on our main site, lombiq.com. There was a good reason to migrate: Orchard Core offers better performance, modularity, and development experience than Orchard 1. But wait there is more!Besides migrating, we also modernized our site’s look. Let’s be honest, a renewal was overdue for our site. The site was created back in 2013! It was simple, clean, and functional, but it didn’t age well with upcoming trends and looks of modern websites. But now we can showcase our expertise and services in a more modern and user-friendly way. For this project, we used a lot of our own open-source modules that we developed over the years. These include Lombiq Privacy and Lombiq Helpful Extensions, utility modules like Lombiq NodeJs Extensions, and Lombiq Base Theme as a base for the themes. These modules add various features and functionalities to Orchard Core that make it more powerful and versatile. As we were using these modules, we also encountered and fixed some bugs and issues in them. We learned that some modules can behave differently or unexpectedly depending on the context or situation they are used in. This can be challenging to detect and resolve, but it also helps us improve the quality and reliability of our modules.One of the most rewarding and innovative aspects of this project was brainstorming about the site and thinking about how we wanted to communicate our vision and identity as a company to our audience. It was a new and different experience, compared to working on client projects where we had to follow their feedback, vision, and goals. In our own project, we had to provide these ourselves and ensure they were aligned with our work and Lombiq. It was exciting, but also demanding. We all had slightly different views and thoughts about what our work and Lombiq stand for. But after several sessions of collaboration and feedback, we reached a consensus on the designs and key features that would best fit our new site.Our new site turned out great and we are very happy with it. It represents who we are and what we do as a company. We hope you like it too! And who knows which of our own sites we will renew next…

300+200+240 polar blankets for the Malteses to take care of homeless people

After supporting the Hungarian Charity Service of the Order of Malta in taking care of Ukrainian refugees earlier this year, we again asked the Malteses about what we can help them with. It turned out that they are in no shortage of pandemic (epidemic?) resources or help for victims of the war in Ukraine. So, they said that blankets though, for homeless people in Hungary, would be useful. So, we delivered. We again collaborated with the artisan clothing small business Borsika Portéka: They manufactured the 300 polar blankets at cost price, and we purchased them. The Malteses will use these blankets to take care of homeless people during the winter, which starts to get pretty chilly here in Hungary. We hope that this donation will make the situation of many unfortunate people a bit more bearable. If you can, we encourage you to donate to the Malteses too! Update 06.03.2023: In the meantime, we've donated a further 200 (actually 196) blankets to the Malteses.Update 03.04.2023: And we've donated another 240 blankets!

Smithsonian Folkways Recordings now upgraded to Orchard Core

If you like music – and, truthfully, who doesn't? –, we have some good news for you: you can now browse and license music on an Orchard Core-based platform! This is brought to you by the long-standing collaboration between Lombiq and the Smithsonian Institution, which has been engaged in a working relationship with us for several years now. The sites of the Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage were made using Orchard 1, which we had a hand in creating all the way back in 2017. These Orchard-powered sites also include the home of the Smithsonian Folkways Recordings, which is now running on Orchard Core instead! Folkways, with music and Orchard at its core With Orchard Core offering an ever-growing number of benefits over its predecessor, including various performance improvements and a more user-friendly UI, the time to upgrade from Orchard 1 drew near by the end of 2021. Due to our long history with the Institution, we had the opportunity to participate in this project too. Lombiq took a major part in the migration process that was ongoing earlier this year. This included updating the existing codebase to modern standards using the latest C# language features, re-implementing our Content Editors module to make it Orchard Core compatible, as well as adding UI testing to easily spot regressions. The application also makes use of several of our open-source projects such as Helpful Libraries, Helpful Extensions, Gulp Extensions, and NPM MSBuild Targets. The new Folkways site launched in July and can be found on our showcase website Show Orchard as well. This is what Toby Dodds, Technology Director at Smithsonian Folkways Recordings, had to say regarding our collaboration: During the past year we’ve had the pleasure of working collaboratively with Lombiq to upgrade our backend CMS from Orchard’s 1.x to its more modern 2.x version Orchard Core – based on Microsoft’s Dot.Net Core. This was a complex and difficult project, but essential as well, and once again we feel lucky to have been able to work through it with Lombiq. Anyone who works around Web or IT systems knows that they are not static and always grow and expand in complexity. Collections of data grow as do the number of fields. Our collection database, which is now 20 years old is at the core of our whole enterprise and represents millions of pieces of information. Years ago, we determined that we could leverage Microsoft technologies and Orchard’s CMS to manage that data while simultaneously supporting our website. This strategy has paid off and we have been able to thrive as a business, generating revenue through sales on our website, licensing opportunities, in-kind donations, and through the distribution of our catalog to outside digital music services. All this business is data-centric and working with Orchard has given us total control of our data landscape. A big challenge, and a breakthrough, of Orchard Core is that data is accessed in a code-based way which results in better performance but required us to complete a complex migration of our data from our 1.x database held in MS SQL Server. Thankfully Lombiq was ready to take this on, helping us build a data migration process that worked like a charm and was a bridge between the old and the new. We were also able to retain access to our data in SQL, allowing us to keep our existing integrations, and the ability to query our data directly when necessary. Because data is managed within the application layer now, we have also leaned on Lombiq to develop a set of tools to Import, Export, and Update our collection using Excel spreadsheets. Our data life has gotten easier as a result and we are now better prepared to acquire, process, and distribute recordings and collections moving forward. Orchard Core represents not only a step forward for our website but also for our collection management work as well. Specifically on the website we have also been able to take advantage of Orchard Core’s improved speed to produce new tools for browsing the collection. Being able to browse and filter thousands of releases in a nanosecond is cool, no matter how you slice it. Additionally, this new speed on our website is opening a door for us to introduce a streaming audio player that depends on AJAX to maintain a persistent audio listening experience while browsing the site. This only works well if pages load quickly and do they ever! Getting to streaming is a key priority for us and now we expect to make that available to the public next year. In summary, this has been an innovative and productive period for Folkways and now that we are in Orchard Core, we are looking forward to all the benefits that will come from this hard-fought upgrade. Our success here is thanks to Lombiq who’ve had the skill, vision, and patience to work with us to overcome big challenges and get the job done. You can also check out a demo video of the app and our experiences developing it here. As Orchard Core grows in popularity, so does our experience with it. If you too would like to enjoy the various improvements the platform offers, don't hesitate to reach out to us here.

Helping Global Health build an Advanced Form Builder using Form.io

When Global Health from Australia approached us with the request to build an advanced form builder using Form.io, it promised to be an interesting project. They were looking to integrate this new form builder deeply into MasterCare+, their Multi-Tenanted SaaS-based platform for Health Care which is built on Orchard CMS. It would allow creating custom forms for a wide range of scenarios in the health care domain, using the advanced editing capabilities of Form.io. The solution built by Lombiq was an important step in bridging the gap between paper forms and electronic health care management. At Lombiq, we already had hands-on experience with SurveyJS from a previous project, and we were looking forward to getting to know Form.io this time. Integrating and extending it to the special needs of our client was a fun challenge. As with any complex system, MasterCare+ required us to dive deep into its architecture to be able to enhance the system with the desired form-building functionality. Providing a smooth user experience was just as important as a flawless integration with business logic and data persistence, all the while adhering to Global Health's and our own high coding standards. A few of our other open-source projects proved very helpful in achieving the above, like Lombiq .NET Analyzers, Helpful Libraries, Gulp Extensions, and NPM MSBuild Targets. Working with the Global Health team was a pleasure. Here's what Damon Groenveld, Head of R&D at Global Health, has to say about our cooperation: Lombiq has gone above and beyond to ensure that the work done in our engagement with them not only met our expectations but also surpassed them. Are you looking for a competent partner to integrate a special tool into your complex system architecture? Get in touch—we at Lombiq are ready to take it on.

Supporting the continued efforts of the Malteses in helping the victims of the war in Ukraine

Almost half a year passed since the war in Ukraine broke out and the Hungarian Charity Service of the Order of Malta is still deeply involved in providing humanitarian aid to those seeking help in Hungary. After donating money, and then donating polar blankets in the cold season, the next installment of our collaboration is donating 800 child-sized hats to protect against the sun. Just like the blankets (and the reusable/washable textile masks during the COVID-19 pandemic), these hats were produced at manufacturing cost by the artisan clothing small business Borsika Portéka, and fully sponsored by Lombiq. The Malteses also published an article about our donation here. We still encourage you to support important causes and reliable organizations in these extraordinary times - we at Lombiq (as individuals as well as a company) will continue to do so and we are proud to give back!