What is Orchard?

Orchard is a free, open source, community-focused project aimed at delivering applications and reusable components on the ASP.NET platform. It will create shared components for building ASP.NET applications and extensions, and specific applications that leverage these components to meet the needs of end-users, scripters, and developers. Additionally, it will provide help for existing .NET applications to be successful in achieving their goals. Orchard is currently licensed under a New BSD license, which is approved by the OSI. The intended output of the Orchard project is three-fold:

  • Individual .NET-based applications that appeal to end-users, scripters, and developers
  • A set of re-usable components that makes it easy to build such applications
  • Partnerships with the .NET community to help define these applications and extensions

In the near term, the Orchard project is focused on delivering a .NET-based CMS application that will allow users to rapidly create content-driven Websites, and an underlying framework that will allow developers and customizers to provide additional functionality through extensions and themes.

What is the Orchard CMS application? How does it compare with Microsoft SharePoint?

Orchard CMS is an open source project which aims to provide a simple solution for small web agencies who want to quickly create Internet-facing Web sites. For corporations wanting a fully-featured, Microsoft-supported, enterprise-level CMS solution out-of-the-box, including Workflow, Digital Asset Management, Advanced Search, Web Analytics, and Social Networking, Microsoft SharePoint™ is a more natural choice. SharePoint also provides capabilities beyond CMS including Team Collaboration, Document and Records Management, Business Process Integration and Business Intelligence.

Microsoft SharePoint is the Business Collaboration Platform for the Enterprise and the Web. SharePoint today runs many large Internet-facing websites that require the robust CMS, Search, Workflow and Analytics capabilities that SharePoint provides. Examples include Kraft, Viacom, Hawaiian Airlines, US Government, and United States Marine Corp.

What is Microsoft's involvement in Orchard? Is Orchard a Microsoft-supported project?

Orchard is a community-focused open source project delivered through the Outercurve Foundation. Like any open source project, we intend to expand the project through community contributions and enlist new members from many different organizations. Although Microsoft is sponsoring this project by providing full-time development resources to the effort, the Orchard CMS is not officially supported through Microsoft. Orchard is supported primarily by the project team through community forums and email. If you are looking for a Microsoft-supported CMS product, Microsoft SharePoint is a better choice.

What is the status of the Orchard project? What is available to use today?

The Orchard project is published on our Orchard CMS GitHub repository and Microsoft Web Application Gallery installable by the Web Platform Installer.

This is a production-ready release for powering live sites. It is the result of many years of development effort and contribution from the Orchard Team and our active community.

Orchard also includes a flexible extensibility model to customize the behavior of Orchard using modules and themes, and a gallery website (and related open source project) for uploading and sharing your custom extensions with others.

Who is the audience for the Orchard effort? Are you focused on developers, users, or both?

Orchard seeks to appeal to a variety of audiences, from end-users who want to quickly build a site using only an application's interface, to designers, scripters and developers who want to extend the application though markup or code customizations in the form of themes or modules. It also aims to appeal to Web development and consulting shops who build and customize sites for small-to-medium sized businesses, starting with an open source CMS. At this early stage of the project, we are primarily engaging with a .NET developer audience, as Orchard is firmly rooted in ASP.NET MVC and other .NET Framework technologies.

Will Orchard applications run well in shared hosting environments?

Orchard is tailored for today's shared hosting environments, where users potentially have less control over what software is running on the server. As an open source solution, Orchard will retain the flexibility to run on a number of different technologies, making it suitable for a wide range of hosters running different platforms or database servers. In dedicated hosting environments where it is possible to run the entire Windows, .NET + IIS + SQL Server stack, SharePoint offers an optimized solution that takes advantage of the unique strengths of this combined platform.

How does Orchard compare with DotNetNuke®? What is Microsoft's relationship with existing partners?

DNN is a mature and successful .NET-based project, a key partner for Microsoft, and a vital contributor to the .NET open source ecosystem. Our hope is that new technology investments made by Orchard will serve existing applications like DNN in the long run, and ultimately provide infrastructure and components that our partners can leverage to enrich their own offerings.

Orchard aims to help our .NET partners, not to compete directly with them. Orchard is already working with several partners in the .NET open source space, including DNN, to identify opportunities to work together for mutual benefit. In addition to providing shared infrastructure that can be leveraged within existing apps, we will continually seek opportunities for the Orchard team to contribute to existing projects and help our partners be successful in achieving their own goals. Orchard's extensibility model also presents partners with another vehicle for delivering their solutions and expanding their audience.

What about Oxite? Aren't they building a CMS application too? How does Oxite relate to the Orchard effort?

Oxite started out as a blogging engine to support the Mix '09 conference website, and has since evolved into a mature open source project in its own right. Oxite recently began introducing general extensibility support (modules, plug-ins) and some lightweight CMS content-editing features, and Orchard began partnering with them to share scenarios and code. Ultimately we concluded our efforts were better served by working together, and two of the principal developers on Oxite, Erik Porter and Nathan Heskew, have officially joined the Orchard team. Together we will take the lessons learned from early Orchard prototyping and Oxite development, borrowing code where appropriate from those efforts, to deliver a fundamentally new architecture that is the Orchard CMS. We have deliberately chosen to start development anew, with the guidance and contribution from the community, rather than build on the existing code, in order to involve the community up-front as well as create a sustainable architecture that can meet the ambitious Orchard project goals.