Ben  Franklin Ben Franklin | 30 Apr 2019

For strategic decision makers, it’s time to get to know the newest thinking in Kentico CMS: MVC. So what does this upcoming transition to MVC and away from portal engine development mean for your organisation?

Progress in patterns

First of all, let’s define our terms. What are MVC and portal engine anyway? MVC (aka Model View Controller) and portal engine (aka web forms) are essentially two possible ways of organising the development behind your website. And they happen to be the main two patterns used by Kentico.

In its older versions, Kentico has mostly gone for portal engine style development. But lately they’ve begun to introduce more MVC elements. And over the next few years, Kentico’s CMS will become even more MVC-based. The reasons for this mostly have to do with the advantages MVC has over portal engine when it comes to the development phase itself. But there are knock-on benefits—important ones—for the end users, as well.

Divvying up development

The biggest difference between MVC and portal engine has to do with the ‘separation of concerns.’ The clue is in the name with MVC. Unlike portal engine, it separates out the Model—the backend data manipulation—from the View—the way the data is presented on the user interface on the frontend—and both from the Controller—the way a user communicates between the View and the Model.

By keeping these aspects of development discrete, it allows the development team to work on all aspects of the build simultaneously. That has the obvious benefit of allowing CMS development to progress more quickly. There’s no need to perform as many project tasks consecutively. After all, if your frontend team can crack on with UI design without waiting for the backend database structure to be fully implemented, then the whole thing can be rolled out sooner. That saves on project costs, not just in money, but in time and business disruption.

Sensitive to Security

But it also has a critical security benefit thanks to MVC’s separation of data modelling. If the databases your CMS relies on are full of secure or sensitive information, turning them over to an external development team can be complicated. Especially in the post-GDPR era.

In MVC, the team can test the frontend using just the known database format and mocked data. They don’t need the real data or the database at all. That creates an added layer of data security during the build process. It also means a better, faster quality assurance process.

There are other security benefits to MVC, too. It doesn’t rely on using View State to store control values, such as form submissions, in the page controls. That’s because in MVC that information is temporarily stored by the Controller—separate from the View. As a result, your website may run a bit faster, which is nice for users. But it also means your site is less vulnerable to attacks that take advantage of weaknesses in form submission.

End user advantages

Your internal content creation team will find Kentico MVC straightforward to work with, too. The page builder widgets allow for easy content manipulation, so updating is a breeze. It’s a building block style, which means you can add, duplicate, or delete sections without having to redesign the whole page every time. And you can do it without having to be a developer yourself.

Get going!

Ready to jump in? Great! If you’re already on Kentico 12, you’re halfway there already. If you’re not, consider upgrading [text link:], since Kentico 12 already incorporates MVC technology, and there are lots of other benefits to upgrading. In fact, staying on top of Kentico’s upgrade programme is one of the best ways to keep up with MVC technology evolution. As long as you’re on a steady upgrade schedule, you may not need to do anything right now.

Focus on your future

The fact is, however, for some websites, making the change from portal engine to MVC is going to be more of an undertaking than just upgrading to the latest version of Kentico. There may be a need to rebuild some parts of the site to make old widgets compatible with MVC. It might even be worth rethinking the site from a strategic perspective, if it requires a lot of rebuilding. Especially once the next version of Kentico comes out, which will have a lot more MVC-ready widgets available. At that point, portal engine support really will be on its way out the door.

The last thing anyone wants is to be caught off guard by a significant shift in the technology underpinning their communications portal. It’s time to start reviewing your CMS now and planning for what’s coming. MVC is definitely heading your way—it’s the future for Kentico and for CMS generally. It’s the future for you, too.

If you’d like to talk more about what the switch to Kentico MVC means for your company, chat with Ben, our Technical Director.