Experience Sitecore! | November 4. 2021

Experience Sitecore!

Martin Miles on Sitecore

10+2 features of Sitecore 10.2 you must be aware of

Today Sitecore released its updated platform version 10.2 - you can download it by this link. Full Release Notes are also available.
Previously we've been told that Sitecore XP 10.1 supposed to become the last version supporting both classical and containerized installation. Due to a certain market inertion and slower products adoption, Sitecore has decided to extend that to version 10.2 as well. That means you can still install it will old good SIF 2.3.0, similar you did before. (they'll probably use a following major version of XP - 11.0, to become containers-only)

Below I would like to cover what comes new in Sitecore 10.2 going from the most important changes to the least. So there we go.

1. Sitecore MVC Component Static Generation


Headless Rendering 19.0 will include product enhancements and new documentation to facilitate the inclusion of Sitecore MVC components in the output of the Layout Service and Experience Edge, and conversion of existing Sitecore MVC sites to statically generated Jamstack architectures using Next.js. Next.js against JSS headless services (hosted on Vercel) is what heard a lot from Sitecore in recent times because of Sitecore establishing a partnership with them. But, as of 10.2, you can get there with MVC or SXA too, so, its really up to what you want.

That brings the ability to incrementally convert to headless Sitecore architectures without a full rebuild, providing a bridge to new Composable DXP. Sitecore is going to release an XM cloud in the future, so with this new feature that switch should be easier, whether you want not just .NET Core or JSS, but also bridging legacy MVC and SXA into the world of JavaScript and JamStack.

Why is this feature so important?

I personally have been involved in several Sitecore version upgrades, where the decision was taken to go for 10.* in containers, but without choosing a headless approach. In all cases, the reason was "having some legacy content or modules or other dependencies, that prevent going headless". All these existing customers must be taken aboard of headless progress, to benefit from modern approaches, such as Jamstack or Experience Edge.


2. Horizon updates go massive this time. In my opinion, finally, Horizon 10.2 became The Tool! As you know, unlike Experience Editor, Horizon is a decoupled modern version of the editing interface and this product is of even bigger importance when Sitecore ends up with a cloud-based editor.

So, firstly, welcome new Content explorer - an alternative way of navigating your content rather than (and in addition to) content tree. It features numerous queries and filters for narrow faceting your searches, also presents items without fixed (tree-based) hierarchy with a table view.

Secondly, since 10.2 headless rendering hosts built on our Next.js and ASP.NET Core SDKs can now utilize the Horizon editor and that is one of the biggest blockers preventing wide-spreading of Horizon.

Thirdly, not just headless, but also SXA is now properly supported in Horizon.

With all the above in mind, I can conclude Horizon now comes into our life with a decent editing experience, and that is what we've been waiting for!


3. DDS Container for EXM. DDS stands for emails sending Dedicated Dispatch Server for, now officially provided with container images for both Docker compose and Kubernetes. These images are available as sitecore-dds-${TOPOLOGY}-cm:${VERSION}.


4. Windows Server 2022 support is claimed for Sitecore 10.2. I assume that means we'll benefit from running Sitecore containers in Server 2022 with process isolation, resulting in the best performance and benefiting from the new Virtualization-based security of Server 2022 (you'll be able confirming that from the comprehensive Images and Tags List later).

Update: server 2022 support is delayed for the initial release, but is definitely coming later.


5. Modules Resources. As you might know, Sitecore 10.1 brought a highly demanded feature called Items as Resource that keeps default items outside of Sitecore databases in order to simplify version upgrades in the containerized environments. Now, this feature got extended to modules as well, meaning they're no more update packages for modules. That also includes module localizations.

Speaking about upgrades and containers, you may now find and follow a wonderful Upgrade Container Deployment Guide.


6. SXA brought really many changes and improvements with SXA version 10.2, two of them already highlighted above (Horizon support and that default SXA items are now provided as resources files rather than installable items packages). Apart from that, I'd mention support for Bootstrap 5, upgrade of Scriban library to version 3.6 which now supports responsive images and templates in JSON variants. Also, keep in mind that "JSS" sites are now renamed to "Headless" to account for the support of the .Net Core rendering host.


7. Headless supports Next.js 11 with Dynamic Component Imports and Vue 3.x. These changes and the rest of JSS covered with improved documentation for Sitecore Headless Rendering 19.0.


8. Sitecore Host got upgraded to .NET Core 3.1, and that affects everything that runs above it: Horizon, Publishing Service, Identity Server, etc. Sitecore Identity Server has been upgraded to version 6.0 based on IdentityServer 4.1.1 (which obviously runs on .NET Core 3.1). Sitecore Publishing Service no longer requires the resource files with default items to be copied to it before usage. The service will download the resource files automatically from your Sitecore instance. You can get the latest Publishing Service and the corresponding Publishing Module.


9. Reporting also got a few features. Firstly, you can now download reports data in a CSV format for further processing in Excel. Secondly, better defaults have been applied to report table columns to sort by more meaningful metrics out of the box. Thirdly,  can now see the impact of personalization on the conversions for individual goals.


10. Internals and "invisible" changes. 

Sitecore Kernel got 27 bugs fixed, that resulted from support tickets sent by us. Performance improved between Tracker and xConnect, to generate fewer requests. Speaking about xConnect, you can now purge data for interactions in a similar manner that was previously done for contacts. 


Bonus 1. CLI update is not a part of the current 10.2 release, as CLI upgrade to 4.0 was brought a month earlier. But as both are effectively a "part of the same thing", I will mention those below:

Firstly, as we've been asking for, finally we can serialize and deploy security roles.

Secondly, Items as Resource plugin should have come eventually and now it features improved release velocity and reliability by deploying items as files.

Thirdly, another highly requested feature: you can now exclude fields from serialization. 

There are other minor improvements as well as the Indexing plugin. All these CLI changes are also available for 10.1.


Bonus 2. Deprecates. Unwanted Azure Search and Update Center got deprecated - from 10.1 we've got Sitecore UpdateApp Tool and containers becoming the main deployment method. Thus Update Center functionality ceased to serve its purpose and is no longer available.


It seems to be very decent update. Hope this gives you enough encouragement to try the new Sitecore 10.2!

I intentionally left Experience Edge outside of scope of this post as given cloud feature alone worth of decent series of blog posts.