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Beyond the Box: Extending the Ektron CMS

The Ektron CMS is a powerful tool for running enterprise websites, and from a developer's perspective, there is little you can't do with it.

When did you first see what the Ektron CMS could do? For me, it was 2007. I was working as the web master for my local county government and looking to bring in a CMS to manage their site. I was on a phone conference with one of the sales guys at Ektron, who was showing me all of the things that Ektron could do, and I realized that I was really impressed. And this was during the version 7.5 days; version 9 has so many cooler things now.

Fast forward a couple of years; the county wanted to integrate their Active Directory (AD) logins with the website. No problem, since Ektron integrates really well with Active Directory. The problem was that I had to integrate with our publicly accessible site, outside of the network firewalls, which didn't have access to the AD system. Oh yeah, and I also had to maintain the existing external user accounts, which were not in AD, and never would be. (The network guy was very clear on this point.)

Fortunately, the folks at Ektron were smart enough to build their system in such a way that we can extend the out-of-the-box (OOTB) functionality to suit our custom needs. So, one new, limited access web server to talk across the firewalls, three custom authentication classes, and one SOAP based web service to talk to the authentication classes later, I had a solution that authenticated against AD and the CMS accounts. Was it overly complicated? Yes! Did it work? Yes! Would I do it that way again? Oh, gosh no.

Jumping forward a few more years, I am a much more experienced developer, working for Diagram on client sites, and one thing I have found is that they all need something beyond what the CMS delivers. It might be a custom widget that looks up your gadget inventory and compares it to the doodads that you had last week, or it might be something as simple as setting the go-live date automatically from a date field in a smart form.

The point is, even if the Ektron CMS doesn't do something out-of-the-box, there is no reason that the functionality can't be added. There is a robust API framework in place to help you build the functionality you want, and an active developer community that is always willing to help you work through issues and get things working. And, if you're not comfortable with doing the work yourself, then give us a call. We have a lot of experience in building custom solutions for our clients, and we can help you do exactly what you need, when you need it.

Image credit: Deposit Photos

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