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Experience Sitecore! | All posts by martin

Experience Sitecore!

Martin Miles on Sitecore

Helix project, MVC routing and the form posting back to controller. Part 1 - Prerequisites

At the moment I am working on challenging project that is powered by Sitecore 8.2and follows Helix principles.

Last week I implemented a Feature, that has an MVC form posting back to its controller (here I mean native MVC, not Web Forms for Marketers) module. "Not a big deal" - I thought initially... and spent more time that positively expected until finally got it implemented.

The difference between Helix project and more traditional Sitecore MVC application is that in Helix your assets - controllers, views, statics etc. are kept within an individual project for a particular Feature (or Foundation, or Project - depending on what functionality you're implementing).

Prerequisites.

I assume you already have your Helix solution ready (you may use Habitat, as an "instance" of Helix). So let's start with Sitecore.

I create a page called Test under website root using one of page templates. Next, a rendering is required to be assigned into a placeholder on a page. I create a controller rendering named Test and put it under this feature folder (also called Test). Please notice, that I have to specify controller with fully qualified name with a name of assembly where this controller resides.


Tip: do not forget to publish your items, unless you're working in a live mode from Master DB directly.


Next, let's create a project structure in Solution Explorer. As we're building a Feature, create a solution folder under Feature folder in Visual Studio and name it Test (as a feature name). Create a class library project within that folder following Helix naming conventions YourSolution.Feature.Test with the same namespace and assembly name. The easiest probably would be simply to copy project folder from an existing feature and change namespace / types there.


You need to have Web config to the project root. Please ensure you are referencing the same .NET version as set in Target Framework of the project, in my example it is 4.5.2:






  





      



      



      



      



      
    
  




    
  






    
  


Also you need to have web.config within the /Views folder to make IntelliSense work properly





Below is the minimum references you'll need to have. DataAnnotations library is not essential, for sure, but is included because it'll be needed at step 3):



At this stage we're set. Let's mote to the next step - creating and wiring up a MVC form on a rendering.

References:

Sitecore Helix Documentation

Sitecore London User Group Is Back

I am proud to announce that I have managed to find a sponsor for an oncoming Sitecore User Groups in London after a big half a year gap caused by lack of sponsorship.

The event is sponsored by Explore group.Those who have been on the market for a while probably know Matt Lee - he's the one of the best agent dealing with Sitecore opportunities exclusively and always has numerous contract opportunities in his pocket, so if you're planning to find a new contract - it make sense to notify him directly few weeks in advance.

Please join us on Tuesday 29th November from 18:00 at Balls Brothers on Mincing Lane, EC3R 7PP for an evening of networking, learning and of course complimentary food and drink!


Back to blogging after a while

I am back after a certain period of time that I haven't been posting for a while. So what did I do since that time:

  • Completed my 2-years contract for Vitality Health achieving all the deliverables and left them with a team of high lever professionals I was happy to meet, interview and worked with together.
  • In summer time I have undergone a serious operation (with even more serious preparation process), that kept me out on bench (from contracting) for 4+ months so far. Luckily, all went successfully and I have almost recovered.
  • Managed to attend several Sitecore events, such as SUGCON and Symposium, as well as numerous user groups.
  • Concentrated on Sitecore Link project as it is times more important for the community rather than blog posts.
  • Finally picked up a contract at Cannes Lions Festivals in order to work on challenging tuple of Sitecore and Salesforce.

As all the issues are getting sorted, I am going to pay more attention to the blog having a decent technical backlog of topics to write about as well as drafts started but left halfway that still need to be finished and published. However at the moment Sitecore Link takes all of my free time and even more that that (by taking few hours from sleep). That result an impressive progress and even more interesting thing are coming - follow me in Twitter and stay tuned.

Sitecore Habitat

Few times I have been already demonstrated a new modular (I'd say revolutionary) architecture approach to Sitecore - Habitat. So my curiosity won, and I started investigating it. Meanwhile, I decided to share in one place all the useful links about Habitat I've managed to find.

What is Sitecore Habitat

As authors say, Habitat is a Sitecore solution example built on a modular architecture. The architecture and methodology focuses on simplicity, flexibility and extensibility. It will empower you with a consistent and discoverable architecture with ability of adding changes quickly and without worry, extensible with new features without steep learning curve.

Habitat is developed and managed by a team in Sitecore Product Marketing with members all over the world (Australia, UK and Ukraine).There are no plans to incorporate Habitat into the Sitecore product, but it will rather serve as a reference implementation showcasing aspect of Sitecore developing. Sitecore is and will continue to be committed to being an open development platform catering for many architectural and DevOps.

Sitecore encourages technical specialists to take part in Habitat. I was shown it for the first time on Sitecore 8 training in London and was amazed by architecture, how things looked differently to what used to have and logical and well-thought at the same time! So, here are some resources I managed to find and share about this project


References to Sitecore Habitat

Anything missed? Please let me know so that I will update the post.

Sitecore Technical User Group UK - January 2016 - Download presentation

Yesterday I have attended Sitecore Technical User Group in London and would like to share presentations from it. There were 3 presenters, talking about:

1. "CDN with Sitecore" presented by Kamruz Jaman, a Sitecore MVP 2013-2015 and in general one of the most experiences Sitecore architect, who seems to have an answer to any question (StackOverflow). He reviewed know approaches of implementing CDN into a solution in order to reduce bandwidth and improve you servers performance, and demonstrated the most complex - integrating Azure into Sitecore with media items being directly uploaded to the cloud storage,
Download presentation (521.5KB)

2. "Continuous Integration & Delivery for Sitecore" by Jason Bert.
Jason seems to know everything about CI with Sitecore. He stated, that is absolutely doable to achieve a working CI setup with Sitecore, GIT, TeamCity and Octopus Deploy and showed us how-to. Less theory in favor of a practical demo in real-time!
Download presentation (4.4MB)

3. "Sitecore 8.1: new Features and Improvements" presented by Steve McGill.
Steve guided us through serious list of new features and improvements in Sitecore 8.1 - there are so many sweeties I am anticipationg to start working with! At the end of presentation he also discussed Sitecore Habitat - a project bringing modular approach into Sitecore.
Download presentation (2.3MB)

Steve McGill and Kamruz Jaman:


Light of knowledge is coming out of Jason Bert


Thanks to presenters and everyone who has attended!

Final post of the year

Dear friends,

This is my final post for this year, I will be on holiday from today and till the first decade of 2016. I want to say warm thanks to everyone who has supported and inspired me during last year, say thank you for your feedbacks, they were crucial for me to commit and go ahead.

I wish you Merry Christmas and Happy New Year and will stay in touch!


All Sitecore reference - mass links update

All Sitecore References project has just got a mass links update, which includes:

  • All StackOverflow questions to date
  • Blog posts I am watching
  • Reconsideration of existing links in order to achieve precise matching


And just to remind - if you have a blog and want add links from it into All Sitecore References, please use Suggest Links page to do that.


Hope you find this project helpful!



I join "The Monads" team at Sitecore Hackathon 2016! Which team do you?

I am happy to join The Monads team at this highly expected event for all of Sitecore Community on Friday January 29th, will be working together with Richard Seal and Justin L, both from USA. This is my first hackathon ever, so I am excited about the event but at the same time a bit worrying. In any case, will do the most of what I can within these 24 hours.

Are you a Sitecore developer? Why not to join the event, it will cost you nothing (except the tome, for sure) but you can get many valuable insights, meet other Sitecore enthusiasts and result having your own module at the marketplace.

You don't need to find people to create a team - just ask for joining any of existing with two people already, like I did.

To go ahead the hackathon please contact Akshay Sura - he is an organizer and will help you with that.

Best luck to all the teams and have fun!

Onero is now updated to version 1.2

Just have released a new version of Onero. So, what's new?

  • Re-worked UI - removed buttons from main screen in favour of main menu
  • Introduced Testing (settings) profiles - now settings, rules, forms etc. are individual for a profile
  • Created a base for future multiple browser supports (not only FF like now), currently on testing
  • Multiple bug fixes and minor improvements
Please update by the link: http://onero.martinmiles.net/files/Onero 1.2.zip

Looking forward to hear your feedbacks!
Cheers!

Using Onero with non-Sitecore websites - testing Transport for London website

Introduction

In this blog post I am going to demonstrate how you can test any custom website with Onero Page Runner. For our experiment I've decided to pick up Transport for London website located at https://tfl.gov.uk

  1. Creating a profile for a new website
  2. Populating Pages to process from a XML sitemap file
  3. Configuring Rules
  4. Configuring Forms
  5. Running and getting the results

1. Creating a profile for a new website

Onero configuration is based on testing profile. Using profiles it now becomes possible to create a combination of settings, rules and forms unique for for each individual profile and immediately switch between them just by selecting a profiles from a drop-down on a Settings dialog. Usually you would create a profile for one (or few) websites you would like to test with these settings. For our test we'll create a profile called Transport for London. 

Once created, the new profile immediately becomes active. You may change active profile by selecting a profile name from a drop-down as on a image below:

In fact, a profile is a folder with a profile name located on a drive, with its own combination of settings, rules and forms for submission. Changing active profile simply re-points Onero to use a folder with other settings.


2. Populating Pages to process from a XML sitemap file

On the next step we are going to load the list of pages to be tested. It can be also manually pasted into Page to process textbox, but we prefer to load links automatically from a XML sitemap file. Usually it is called sitemap.xml and is placed at the root of website. TFL website has such a file, and as soon as you specify address of that file into Load from xml sitemap textbox and hit Load Links button, Onero will process request and extract list of all the rages out of it. Sitemap file https://tfl.gov.uk/sitemap.xml references 1,374 pages and all they pre-populate the list, as per screenshot below. Also, as you may see, current profile name is displayed at реу window header.

If you hit Start button Onero will process loading all those pages, measure load timings and generate screenshots of every single page (if checked in configuration for current profile).


3. Configuring Rules

Despite is was already possible to run all the pages at the previous step, we now are going to add additional checks to ensure page is correct apart from it just loads correctly. This can be achieved through adding custom verification rules applicable to a specific (or all) pages. Clicking Rules button on the main window brings you the following dialog with all rules (for the current profile) listed.

Check-box on a screenshot below indicates whether a rule is enabled - only enabled rules are executed. [ALL] / [Incl] indicate a scope of rule execution - this is explained below.


This screenshot shows three rules and all they are enabled. The first one has [ALL] execution scope and thus will be executed on every single page; [Incl] for the second and third means that there are certain conditions that specify where exactly these rules are to be executed. Let's now create and configure these rules.

Rule in fact is a JavaScript code that returns a boolean or integer value. Rules is successful when condition clause returns boolean true or integer more than zero. For example you may return amount of elements satisfying some selector, so if more than one found - rule becomes successful. 
For websites that are run with jQuery you may benefit from writing conditions with its powerful selectors, as shown on screenshots below.

First two rules just return is amounts of element found are more than zero. The last rule return more complex combined condition, that checks if an element with specific id presents on a page and then compares the content of that element with expected message.

Please pay attention to Execution scope dropdown box - the one specifies where the rule will be executes. Three options are:
  • Everywhere - runs on every single page
  • Include - runs only on the pages from URL patterns field below
  • Exclude - runs on all the pages except those satisfying URL patterns field below
URL patterns to match store one oк multiple (comma separated) URL substrings to match. If URL has at least one of these patterns as a substring, Onero will run the rule for that page then. 

Please pay attention to a trailing '$'-dollar sign at the en of second and third patters; '$' means end of string. Thus a pattern https://tfl.gov.uk$ will match only landing page with this URL but does not match https://tfl.gov.uk/about. However, if you remove this trailing dollar sign - it will match all the pages on that domain name (because they all contain that URL pattern as a substring).
You can also delete any existing rules from that screen.


4. Configuring Forms

Similar to the rules, forms have their Forms List window, called by clicking Forms button at the main screen. It looks and functions exactly in the same manner. Double-clicking the form name opens it for edit.

Saying "forms" in his context means ability of Onero to find and populate on specific pages, submit them and analyze the results - whether form submission was successful. The last means that if form submission resulted with a confirmation message on a page - Onero is able to address that message and also check if its content matches expected. Alternatively, if form on a page redirects to a confirmation page, Onero can verify that as well and compare with expected redirect URL pattern.

Forms Editor has three logical sections: General (where to submit), Fields (what to submit) and Result match (how to verify).

URL Pattern works same as in rues - matching substring in URL will enable Onero to find and submit a form on that page.
Fields section set fields to find and populate. Field selectors have same syntax as CSS oк jQuery selectors - if it starts with # then it is ID of element, . specified class name, and omitting starting character will prompt Onero that it's an element tag name. In the last case Onero will ask you to confirm that behavior is desired, as it is less frequently used and very likely to be a mistakenly forgotten '#'or '.'


5. Running and getting the results

Onero updates the links with green / red color depending on results, as it processes them. There is also a progress-bar at the right bottom showing overall progress. 

Double clicking green or red link opens Page results for that specific URL, showing also which rules and forms have been executed on that page and their result codes. This is quite handy for cases when you see a URL turning red and would want to find out why exactly it becomes failed. The screenshots below show Page results for first three pages. You would probably notice different rules executed of each of them - that happens because of conditional URL pattern set previously at step (3).


Previewing results immediately is not the only way of inspecting results. At the end of testing process Onero generated report file with all the statistics for that test run. You may find that in reports.csv file located at Results folder within a folder with current settings profile name (Transport for London in our case). The quickest way to access this folder is to click Settings button from main screen and then Open folder button - it will open resulting folder in a separate Explorer window.

Results.csv spreadsheet contains detailed information about what pages have run and how quickly, what rules and form have been executed and their status codes. If Verbose setting is checked - all the results will be displayed (as on a screenshot below), otherwise only failed will be mentioned in that spreadsheet (that is handy as it prevents from informational noise especially on websites with thousands links and dozens of rules.


First column shows pages being executed, the second - rules and forms run on that specific pages with corresponding statuses at third column. Addons statuses column shows overall status for rules and forms executed and Page Status column shows the statuses for the page itself. They may not match, for example the page has loaded correctly and has Successful Page status, while one of its rules broke resulting Addons status to fail. Time to load shows time in milliseconds taken for page to load, rules and form are not mentioned in that figure.

I hope that quick guide managed to explain some basics of working with Onero and looking forward to your feedback!
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