Exploring Sitecore 8: From A Developer’s Perspective

Gilbert Blocker Gilbert Blocker
March 17, 2015
Sitecore , Web Development

From a developer’s perspective, there are a lot of changes in Sitecore 8. Some of these changes are visible to all users and some are behind the scenes for only developers to experience. 

Up Front

Visually, the entire platform has changed. The CMS has incorporated the SPEAK (Sitecore Process Enablement and Acceleration Kit) UI throughout all screens and dialogs. While this has enhanced the presentation of the CMS as a whole and has provided a feeling of consistency for content editors, it has also increased the platform’s efficiency value, by replacing the, oft-problematic, XAML/Sheer UI implementation. The extensive use of HTML 5 allows for the web application cache feature, which improves the overall performance of the interface (and it looks good).

There are many visual enhancements throughout, including the login screen and the new navigation bar, which allows users to logout or open the new Launchpad. Gone are the days of trying to log in to an application for which you don’t have access, simply because you didn’t select the correct option from the likely hidden options menu in previous versions. Introduced in Sitecore 8, the SPEAK-based Launchpad is available to all users after login, and presents only options that are relevant to the role of the user. The options are now categorized and configurable, based on the business functions the CMS provides.

Behind the Scenes

In Sitecore 8 there have been a number of updates that not only enhance some development practices, but the user experience as well. The largest of those being the introduction of Versioned Layouts. This update allows content editors to create different presentation details for each language version of an item. This adds a ton of flexibility, while still keeping the support for shared presentation details throughout an item’s language versions. For more insight, read my post on Versioned Layouts.

Another update that will provide developers and server administrators some relief is the introduction of a new ServerTimeZone setting in the web.config. This allows for the conversion of all date/time values to UTC format before saving them to the database, and then converting them back to the server time when displaying the value on the site to the user. This fixes a common issue with synchronization between content authoring and content delivery instances that are located in different time zones. This feature can also be controlled for the Experience Analytics reports to determine whether dates and times are displayed in UTC or the local server time zone.

What do you think are the most important visual and behind the scenes changes, enhancements or faults of Sitecore 8?



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