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Experience Sitecore! | All posts tagged 'SUGCon'

Experience Sitecore!

Martin Miles on Sitecore

SUGCON 2019 Takeaways

SUGCON 2019 was a blast! 

More and more of thrilling changes are coming into our beloved platform, you find them out below. Also, it was a pleasure to receive a physical trophy of my Sitecore MVP award!

With this post, I am not going to do what everyone else does, like generously describing sessions attended. Instead, I'd share a brief bullet list of my own takeaways from this important event. Please forgive me my memory - not everything is covered below, but the most important is. Let me know if I've missed something. So, here we go:


General takeaways

  • Sitecore 9.1.1 has been released - this release is mostly focused on bugfixes and stability
  • Sitecore 9.2 is coming shortly
  • JSS becomes a massive game-changer for Sitecore
  • Docker will soon be in high demand for DevOps (XM and XP 9.1.1 images are already available)
  • Helix principles got updated with guidance for Commerce and xConnect, simpler VS project structure, new samples, some UX.


Sitecore XP 9.1.1 features

  • other templates now possible to run before the ARM templates (useful when installing Solr and others)
  • logging of xConnect connections errors improved
  • plenty other fixes covering:
    • EXM
    • Experience Editor
    • Experience Optimization
    • Sitecore Forms
    • Security
    • Marketing Foundation
    • Marketing Automation
    • Sitecore Services Client
    • etc.

Sitecore XP 9.2 expected to feature

  • graphical installer assistant is coming back - a simple GUI over SIF installer
  • Rainbow library will be used for serialization in Sitecore 9.2 OOB and also TDS is moving to YAML
  • better robot detection
  • new Active Personalization Report - a well-in-demand tool that we should have got earlier 
  • publishing services with Sitecore Host support
  • reworked Links Database tool:
    • it will work in batches, works way quicker
    • lowers impact on xConnect
  • improvements to Universal Tracker:
    • reduced number of requests to xConnect
    • session:end improvements
    • server role assignment
  • search improvements:
    • new Sitecore search role
    • Lucene becomes obsolete
    • better control on fields indexing in Azure Search

Sitecore Commerce

  • Commerce 9.1 released out very shortly after SUGCON
  • version numbers and runtime aligned with compatible XM / XP products
  • could be used in conjunction with JSS (calling commerce API through a proxy)

SXA

  • creating Sitecore JSS site with SXA, including full separation presentation from content (with partial and page designs)
  • improvements with background images
  • plenty of minor improvements coming with version 1.8.1

 JSS

  • basic SXA support
  • full support for Sitecore Forms fully working with JSS client site, also for multistep and validations
  • introduced JSS Rendering Host to offload server-side rendering
  • no requirements for Windows for local development

Sitecore Host

  • upgraded to the latest .NET Core version
  • architecture changes for scalability and maintainability
  • in addition to Identity Server already using Sitecore Host, we now expect Publishing Service to move there
  • a NuGet package to help build Sitecore Host plugins is available for download

Is anything missing from the list, anything got forgotten? Of course - it's Horizon

Since it was not mentioned, I assume it will later become part of the platform, not in 9.2. It was previously announced at the Sitecore Symposium and currently, only Sitecore MVPs have access to Horizon previews in order to provide feedback with the development team. Maybe It might get available with Sitecore 9.2 as a separate add-on (as Sitecore normally does with their new features before actually integrating them into XP/XM platform, but yet no news on that). Let's keep fingers crossed!

And finally, if you missed any of the presentations, you can get slides and videos from the official SUGCON Video Download page.

An exciting updgrade of Sitecore.Link project to JSS with Vue and GraphQL on Azure PaaS

It is 2.5 years already since I launched Sitecore.Link project and it made a great input to the community in terms of accumulating and finding technical information. It served well as a starting point for those willing quickly to obtain all available knowledge about some specific aspects of Sitecore as all the links are split into 150+ categories from 15+ top-level areas (ie. SXA, Helix, Security, Media etc.)


From the back-end prospective Sitecore.Link is one of the greatest things I've ever done, with all automation, crawlers and bit of artificial intelligence and machine learning, finding the new materials and taking off all the monotonous work from me, except the one and only thing I should do - taking the decision (on adding that particular link to the collection after reading it).

Speaking about front-end and UX I can now say that things were also great 2 years ago when the project gained 1-2K of links, not 16K+ as for today. It offered real-time predictive input, powerful filtering and few more. But many of these features came out of PoC (as well as the project itself entirely) and have been added more or less spontaneously in the limited timeframes (yes, I have a full-time job plus 3 hours of commute each day), that's why front-end and UX did not expect such a growth of data. I bravely optimized everything as much as could until hitting the performance ceiling of rendering. So it was just a matter of time when to perform reUX and rewrite, rather than whether to.

Finally, the time has come! I am doing the entire rework of Sitecore.Link project.


When attending SUGCON 2018 I was very enthusiastic to find out how perfectly GraphQL stands for querying the data. Since front-end of Sitecore.Link is, in fact, a single page application - JSS would suit the best, while the data itself becomes bucketable implementing new taxonomy. So, as for the moment, I came to the following changes:

Most of back-end and crawlers will remain as they are. From the new features, apart from changing data storage, I plan to add a page where blog authors will be easily able to test and adjust their resources for Sitecore.Link parser them further automatically, and even see how crawlers process their blogs in real-time.

Front-end will entirely rework UI to fit visitors' day-to-day needs to be as quick as possible. UI will be re-written to Vue.js backed by Sitecore Javascript Services (JSS)

At the moment, only blog names are searchable, but after changes will take place all articles' content also becomes tokenized for relevancy in order to provide more precise results and order. Such a nice Sitecore Google will be born, lol)

Once completed, the project will be delivered to Azure PaaS for hosting.


Outcomes

One of the most important things - when done, the source code becomes opensource (MIT) on GitHub - this will bring to the community a real-world example of JSS-running website (but not only - plenty of Sitecore features will be there as implementation example for others). Since the project is community-based and is fed by the community-driven data, it will serve the community in full, including the source code to be hared and ideally pull-requested with new features or fixes.

Another community support back to the project will become a browser extension for submitting currently open URL (of a blog post) into the links database by specifying relevant categories as well as other information, after a quick moderation of course.

Numerous blog posts from myself, describing the changes implemented and sharing the experience of JSS and other features done will accompany this transformation.

In order to make all mentioned above happen, I finish my current contract and do not pick anything next in the following 2 months, to be able fully to concentrate on this amazing challenges. I am also looking for any support from Sitecore Technical Marketing team on technical issues

SUGCon 2017 insights and takeaways

I have attended SUGCon in Amsterdam this year, as usual - it was a blast! What I like Sitecore events for - they always have such an enthusiastic atmosphere of hundreds of best technology professionals united together "on the same boat".

This time I was proud to announce the winners of the community award - The Most Productive Sitecore Authors of 2016. Three luxury looking trophies found their owners, well-deserved guys!


Anyway, I have got few thoughts/takeaways from that wonderful event.

Sitecore Helix has become a proven and reliable development approach for Sitecore already. The more complex your solution is - the more likely you'd use Helix. I am now working on a multinational and multi-project implementation for an insurance service provider and we are using Helix. Given that we have also a distributed development teams, it became crucial that we are doping the development under the same guidelines and each new team member, already familiar with Helix and SOLID principles, becomes productive quite quickly. Also deployment, quality assurance as well as the rest of day-to-day activities - are going to the same standards. My own opinion on Helix is that "if it is cooked well - it serves you well"

My greatest impression after attending SUGCon was after I saw how Mark Stiles combined Microsoft Cognitive Services with Sitecore. The future is already here!

SXA and Sitecore Commerce are also two going trends. As you know, Sitecore has purchased Commerce Server and has now had intensively committed to the product. Sitecore Experience Accelerator is a different beast, that would best suit for large brands with multisite implementations, that simplifies governance and maintainability of them.

Sitecore PaaS becomes closer and closer to the real world. I'd personally not use it now, due to many (not yet sorted) incompatibilities, but the pace is impressing. Christof Claessens has presented about the way Sitecore works on Azure PaaS and relevant modules compatibilities.

Stephen Pope presented Sitecore Publishing Service 2.0 - an app written with .NET core that now increases publishing performance dramatically. The idea behind service is that it separates publishing process from the Sitecore UI by creating standalone service with a publishing queue, that allows aligning publishing load.

Nick Hills from True Clarity gave a great portion of insights on how Sitecore DevOps on AWS and personalisation are done for such a large implementation as for EasyJet.

JavaScript Service (or simply JSS) - another great impression was the last event at SUGCon, presented by Alex Shyba and Adam Weber. Smoothless javascript and front-end stuff working with node.js and Sitecore layouts will bring an excellent user experience. However, that was more a demo of the proof of concept and team needs to complete the development.

There was much more, but this is what comes to my mind (and from the notes) for the moment...

And finally, those 250+ of lucky to become Sitecore MVPs of 2017 were awarded a symbol of commitment to the Sitecore and its community: