With the release of Sitecore 8.2 we are treated to a mix of core product improvements as well as a three new add-ons. Most of the core product improvements can be lumped into usability improvements or technical architecture. While nice improvements the major changes are really in the three add-ons: express migration (for upgrades), Sitecore Experience Accelerator and Publishing Service. In this post we explore the three major modules and their implications.
The Express Migration tool has been released to assist customers in the upgrade of Sitecore 7.2 to Sitecore 8.2. This tool helps alleviate the need to apply multiple upgrade packages in sequence. It should be noted that this tool is limited in its scope to content items, users and roles. The upgrade of any code to the newer API’s in Sitecore 8.2 still requires a developer. If your Sitecore team or partner has invested in other technologies to assist in upgrades you should discuss the relative merits of Expression migration with them. If you are on a version other than 7.2, the expression migration tool will not work. Hopefully Sitecore will update this as time goes by. To the best of our knowledge there are no licensing implications.
The Publishing Service is a separately installed publishing service build using the .NET Core and works only with Sitecore 8.2. The Publishing Service provides a faster publication process. For large scale implementations and aggressive publication needs the Publishing Service is worth investigating. Once the publishing service is installed it will completely replace the existing publication engine.
Sitecore’s official documentation includes the following diagrams that illustrate the changed flow of data. As you can see from the second part of the diagram the content management (CM) instance is no longer responsible for the actual movement of data from the master to web database.
All of the gory details are on the download page (https://dev.sitecore.net/Downloads/Sitecore_Publishing_Service/11/Sitecore_Publishing_Service_11_Initial_Release.aspx).
Sitecore Experience Accelerator
The Sitecore Experience Accelerator (SXA) is an add-on module that provides a library of 80+ components and multi-site extensions for Sitecore – all designed as the name implies to accelerate the development of new sites. SXA is only available for Sitecore 8.1 and 8.2.
SXA is such a large product that it would not be fair to try and cram a summary into here, but the most obvious change a content author will see is a drag and drop interface to add components to pages in Experience Editor. In the following screen shot, the floating Toolbox on the left lists all available components.
By selecting and dragging the components, the page will highlight in green the locations that the component can be dropped.
If the component requires a datasource you will see the familiar “Select Associated Content” dialog to let you create new or select existing content.
SXA does require a new license. For licensing costs you will need to contact your Sitecore account representative.
In follow-up posts we’ll dive into each of these more deeply.