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Integration of BE with site

Topics: Themes
Nov 16, 2011 at 2:01 PM

Hi everyone,

FYI, it appears that front page of the BE site is down as of 11/16/11 8:58AM us east coast

I've just started learning about BE and I'd like some guidance on whether it's the solution I'm looking for.  I have a couple of e-commerce stores, and I want them to have blogs as an easy way to add more content (SEO purposes) and to engage with customers.  I want the blog to be part of my existing master page framework and to be able to integrate the store and blog to, for example:

 - Have some of the BE widgets (I think that's what they're called in BE) such as tags box or recent comments, appear in the master page of the store even when not on the blog page

-  Be able to place items in the shopping cart from a blog post

I opened up BE (web, not source code) in VWDE 2010 and quickly came to see that it is not structured like other sites I have.  Reading about a Master Page Error that VWDE displays led to a post mentioning that the BE master pages are created dynamically.  It also appears that a lot of BE is done in xml, which I haven't worked with. 

So before I dive deeper into this I'm hoping that someone with the right perspective can guide me as to whether what I want to do is straightforwardly compatible with the BE design, or was it designed to be a stand-alone blog? 



Nov 18, 2011 at 2:44 PM

Hey Jeff,

I'm currently working to integrate BE into our commerce platform as well.  We're setting it up as where the BE system in placed in the blog folder which is marked as an application in IIS.  This allows for more isolation between BE and our commerce platform from a tech perspective but still good integration from a user perspective.  The one possible downside to this approach is that we did have to set up different master pages for BE than for the core site. 

As for XML, most of the xml code is isolated to the file system provider so I don't tend to run into it that often but it is used some even when using a sql database.  But for the work I've done with it so far (which is quite a bit) I haven't yet had to mess with the xml directly.  Most everything can be handled through css, themes and widgets.  And even the mods I've made to the core dlls haven't required messing with XML.

Overall, I find the code base to be much cleaner and better structured than most of the other open sources projects I've looked at.

Hope that helps.

Nov 18, 2011 at 3:38 PM
Edited Nov 18, 2011 at 3:40 PM


Thanks for responding and good to hear that you're blazing the trail for us.  Yes I'd want to set it up as and I expect that a different master page would be needed as well.  That part is fine.  Have you had any success in putting the tags block or recent comments block on the non-blog parts of your site?  Am I correct that they are widgets in BE?    Are you working from the source code version or the web version?  Am I correct that the master page is created dynamically?  If so, how did you create your own?  I'm used to just working with a site.master file.

Nov 18, 2011 at 3:51 PM


I'm working from the full source version only because I'm a seasonded developer and wanted to make some changes (some of which I folded back into the main code base).  The website ver would work fine too.

The master page isn't really created dynamically, it's just bound to the site dynamically.  The master page lives in the folder containing the theme you have picked for the site. e.g. /themes/Standard/site.master  For our site I just created a new theme folder by copying the standard one and then makeing changes to that to fit our look and feel.  Pretty easy process if you are a .net developer.  Then in the admin area of the site you just use the ui to select your theme for as the main theme for the site. 

I haven't yet integrated data from the blog (comments, etc) into the main site ui.  I'm not sure in our case if we will or not.  But if you want to you sould be able to by just having your main site do an httpclient request to a page or api that you create on the BE side of things to return whatever you want.  Sould be pretty easy if you have somone there who does c#.  There are probably other ways to accomplish this as well.  I'm not sure you'd be able to use a widget directly though since you'd be crossing application boundaries.  But you could setup a be page that only had the widget on it maybe and then do the httpclient request from the main site to get the contents for displaying.





Nov 18, 2011 at 6:27 PM
Edited Nov 18, 2011 at 6:31 PM


Thank you, that's very helpful.  When I first opened up the BE code I didn't see a reference to the master page in default.aspx, and then I looked in a theme, Garland-Revisited, and didn't see a site.master file, so I bought in to the idea of no master page.  Now I've opened up the other themes and see that they do have a site.master page, so I can use that as my reference point to start understanding the site.  I'm still learning VB/C# so not as quick to pick up what's going on as you more experienced guys but I'll get it eventually.

thanks again


Nov 18, 2011 at 6:39 PM

No worries Jeff.  With each new technology, we all have to start at the beginning.   :-)

And if you are just learning C#, this is the best open source code base I've seen to be learning from.  It's much more compact and well written than most. (I just started working with it a few months back)

Enjoy, it's a pretty cool system.