Bryan Ruby


Thoughts, Words, and Deeds

Smart Water Sprinklers Become More Affordable with the Blossom 8

Blossom 8 uncovered showing room for 8 zones

My review of the upcoming Blossom 8 Smart Watering Controller

A few years ago, I wanted to replace the water controller for my lawn's sprinkler system. To my surprise, I found even the most basic controller was too expensive to justify replacing my failing system. Then came along Blossom. I found Blossom's original Smart Watering Controller was not only smarter than traditional controllers but also competitively priced. So in 2015, I bought the Blossom, installed it, and smartly watered my lawn all summer long. To date, it is one of the best investments I've made when it comes to lawn care.

This year Blossom is introducing its new, eight-zone Blossom 8 Smart Watering Controller. Featuring Wi-Fi connectivity and a sleek, slim, low-profile design, Blossom 8 is a highly reliable, simple, cost-effective solution that takes the guesswork out of controlling your sprinklers and simplifies your life. Blossom is continuing its efforts in changing the way we water our lawns. They're doing this by moving away from conventional watering controllers that don’t take actual water needs to a smart system that waters based on vegetation type and rainfall numbers into account.

My Personal Goodbye to CMS Report

CMS Report Logo

Over the years, I've told people that CMS Report is a side business. While I would never become rich from this blog, I've been lucky enough to have been able to put a little extra cash in my wallet from this website's ad revenue. In truth, what has actually sustained CMS Report is not money but my passion for information systems. I absolutely love this magical process where people, hardware, software, and infrastructure come together to improve the business or organization. A decade ago, I could find no better example of information systems in the real world than the content management system. I decided to write about CMSs and created a blog and website to host those articles. After spending ten years as this site's founder, editor, and primary writer I've decided it is time for me to move on to some new challenges.

What an amazing and crazy ride this has been for someone that started his career as a meteorologist and now works full time in government IT. This was supposed to be a one year exercise for feeding my hunger to learn more about CMSs. Instead, this became a ten year project that tapped into a community of developers, marketers, analysts, founders, executives, small business owners, and entrepreneurs. It has been a joy to have met so many creative, smart, and hardworking people through this website. I received more than I gave. But in the past few years, my passion to write only about CMS topics has diminished and I'm not happy that my articles lack the shine they once had. After considerable thought, I've decided it's time for me to pass the torch to another.

The Most Important Feature To Require In Your Next CMS

Agility CMS with Import and Export

When it comes to content management systems, these two questions are the ones that I get asked the most:

  • What is the best CMS out there?
  • What features do I need to have in my CMS?

Over the years, I've tried answering that question in various forums. But inevitably my initial answers to the first question are almost always:

  • It depends on what you want to do.
  • It depend on who you're willing to work with.

This leaves us with the second question. What features do you need to have in a CMS? The honest answer is I won't know until I better understand your business goals and current workflow. But I can tell you with a straight face what is the most important feature your new CMS needs to have:

  • The ability to export your content easily out of your "new" CMS.

Too often, people worry only about importing their content into a new CMS from their old CMS. But what if in a year or two you find your new CMS fails to meet your needs? Before adopting a new CMS, you should have a clear exit stategy for the day your new CMS becomes your old CMS.

With some CMSs, the process to leave from one platform to another is an easy one. We just did an Agility CMS to Drupal migration where Agility's software provided easy access to their export functionality. This didn't surprise me because three years ago I researched Agility well and confirmed they had export functionality readily available. Unfortunately, too many CMSs are not like Agility. CMS vendors don't always provide an easy method to leave their CMS and sometimes this is intentional (it's called vendor lock). Website migrations even in the best of circumstances are already difficult and you definitely don't want a CMS where exporting content is made difficult by design.

Umbraco 7.4 focused on the User Experience

Umbraco Logo

Niels Hartvig recently posted that Umbraco 7.4 has been released. With much focus on improving the user experience, this new version of Umbraco is being subtitled as the "Content type editor update".

Features and improvements highlighted in this update includes:

  •  New content type editor
  •  Some UX polish + documentation
  •  Media library improvements
  •  Grid polish
  •  Password for user panel (no dashboard)
  •  Models Builder

Agility CMS updated with December 2015 Release

Agility - Media and Docs

A few days ago, the Agility CMS Team released an update that includes new features and bug fixes. This is the first update since the "big upgrade" threee months ago when Agility introduced a significant rebuild and redesign of its content management system's interface.

Among the bug fixes, probably the most annoying one to me was a bug hat prevented users from being able to delete a linked content item from within grid view. Previously, a user was required to click on the "Edit Content" button in order to remove an item. Before the fix, the work-around was sufficient but annoying due to the changes involved in the expected workflow. Overall though, as a user of the Agility CMS, I've been pretty impressed how much Agility got right in the redesign that the waiting time for the fix was acceptable to me.