Sitecore User Group Conference Europe 2016

Posted 4 May 2016 12:00 AM by Vicent Galiana - Sitecore Solutions Architect

I recently attended the Sitecore User Group Conference Europe 2016; an event with nearly two complete days of information on the future. In this blog, I am going to try to summarise all of the presented content in a series of posts from my own views and opinions for each subject at the conference. 

Part 1: What does the future of Sitecore look like?

Upgrade to Sitecore 8, Oh No!! Express migration tool to the rescue

Finally, we will be able to automate our upgrade from an old version of Sitecore to the most current version. Although we couldn't see anything at the conference, I am glad the suffering and pain of long path migrations will be fixed. Sitecore has finally realised this by trying to improve the upgrade experience.

What impact will these changes have? 'Impacted pages' (official name TBD)

Some concepts remain obvious for us, however, this can be tricky for some people with no experience with Sitecore, web or similar. The mere fact that what you view in the experience editor is not only one single block of content, but also a main piece of content surrounded by other pieces of content which may be reused in different places can take quite a while to understand (it even sounds confusing!). On several occasions I have seen new users (and not so new) editing the blocks of content in one page without realising they are actually effecting the entire site. Following such a scenario, a dialogue much like this is likely to occur: “Suddenly page B has changed but nobody has edited it. Why is Sitecore messing with my content?”. 

With this new feature, editors will now be able to quickly understand the side effects and outcomes of their changes to prevent them from publishing such items.

Federated authentication

Finally, other features that we use for modules and custom code will be supported and implemented within the platform, such as: Adfs, azure ad, new forms, etc.

Web forms for marketers, you either love it or hate it

With web forms, there's no neutral opinion from a marketing perspective. You may love it because of the flexibility it offers, or simply grow frustrated from encountering various issues whilst working with it. For instance, I am finding an average of 4 bugs per project, but the beauty is that this dilemma will soon be non-existent. It will become an integrated part of the experience editor, adding fields straight into the page instead of an independent module. However, this instils two disparate feelings with me. At first, myself and the majority of the audience felt joy to hear that we will no longer have to suffer with this anymore. However secondly, I also fear that we will now have to go through the pain of a new feature with limited functionality, bugs, etc. Only time will tell. However, form components will finally be fully integrated within marketing, such as engagement plans so it will be able to link, amend and understand these two sides from one single place.

Publishing that eureka idea shouldn't be a pain

On several occasions we have all said, “I can´t publish, it’s stuck at “initializing”, only to later find out that someone had published the whole site, republished the homepage with sub items and other related content. It seems that Sitecore has reinvented this and we will now be able to publish “millions of items per second”.

Silverlight, another old tool says goodbye. Again. 

The day has come that we have been promised we will no longer encounter any charts or items built with Silverlight. Is it definite this time?

Xdb support and features keep growing

It’s obvious that Sitecore is now focusing a lot of its energy on the new features and big data support for xdb. With this comes support for creating new layers to work with in Xdb, such as data integration with power BI, machine learning and more. 

To the cloud!

Another great announcement - at least for ClearPeople - who understood the importance of the cloud years ago. Sitecore is now taking a “cloud first“ approach, and based on what we have seen so far, this cloud is Azure. This uniquely positions ClearPeople as a first option for helping organisations transition into the cloud with Sitecore and Azure (and more!).

Leading the Sitecore Habitat

Until now, Sitecore has created an impressive framework to work with, letting its habitat of partners, architects and developers create loads of different approaches to build on top of it (thus indicating a lot of hours spent on “reinventing the wheel”). Now, Sitecore has taken one step forward by deciding to lead us with a new and improved set of best practises, tools, templates and projects so that we can fully focus on our client’s requirements instead of the application itself. The first big project with this direction is “Habitat”: a complete solution with an end-to-end implementation of architecture and methodology for us to adapt to and follow. 

Asp.net web forms

It’s something we all knew was coming. Microsoft is fully focused on MVC, letting web forms die and disappear slowly. So if any of you out there are still working with web forms… no more excuses, it's time to switch to MVC.

Testing

Sitecore listened when we mentioned that we need to test our code properly. Sitecore created “Abstractions” some time ago, however now they are preparing to use them. The presentation showed approaches for testing using frameworks as fakedb, and may even be releasing new abstract classes to help us design our architecture to better support testing. 

Mobile

A new framework for mobile devices is coming soon: maybe in 8.3 or later. This will improve how we access Sitecore and how we store absolutely everything into xDb.


On part II of this mini-series I will discuss my thoughts on component design, security, Nuget and Coveo. Stay tuned!

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