Monday, January 24, 2011

Dreamcore Dreaming

It's time for my annual blog post...

Seriously, I'm impressed with all those bloggers who find time to post as often as they do.

I've decided to take a quick moment out of my all too busy schedule, however, to point out that I'm already looking forward to this year's Dreamcore in Boston on April 19th and 20th, 2011.  Last year's event was great fun and a wonderful opportunity to meet many Sitecore customers and partners.

Have a look here if you haven't signed up yet:

Learn more about Dreamcore 2011...

I hope to see many of you there again this year.  I can promise that we'll be showing lots of sizzling new goodies from our labs.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Sitecore’s Recommended Version Policy

People often ask me about Sitecore’s recommended version policy.

Some people seem to think that only the “recommended version” must be a stable release and all others must be considered “pre-release, unstable” software.

This is a misunderstanding that I’d like to take a moment to clear up.

To understand our recommended version policy, it’s important to remember that people install Sitecore CMS for many different reasons. Here are a few examples. A given Sitecore CMS installation may serve as…
  • …a development environment for a web site that may take several weeks or months to reach deployment.
  • …a mission critical web site for one of our many customers.
  • …a training web site that helps a developer become familiar with the product.
Our recommended version policy is focused on production installations running mission critical web sites for our customers.

As many of you know, Sitecore leverages a very agile development approach. As such, we release a fairly steady stream of improvements to the product as updates and feature releases. We know, however, that this constant stream of upgrades can place a burden on system administrators, who may find themselves thinking, “Should I install this newest update?”

We’ve done a lot to make the experience of upgrading a Sitecore release as easy as possible, but we also know that there are other factors involved when deciding whether to upgrade or not. The old adage of not fixing things that “ain’t broke” works well for production environments. Our recommended release policy is designed to help reduce risk for our customers and limit the number of upgrades that we recommend.

When we release a new version of our CMS product, we typically do not make this the recommended version immediately. This is to indicate that, for production environments where Sitecore already works well, there is no need to rush to perform an upgrade to the new release.

Not all releases are destined to become a recommended version at some point. Periodically, based on experience with a set of releases, we choose a later version to become the new recommended release. In this process of promoting a specific release to a recommended version, we work closely with teams within Sitecore as well as with our developer / partner community.

For new production environments, customers should think about the following questions:
  • Does a later, non-recommended version contain new features that my site requires?
  • Does a later, non-recommended version resolve known issues that may impact my site?
If the answer to either of these questions is yes, then it is indeed safe to use the later, non-recommended version. Sitecore fully supports and stands behind newly released versions that have not been designated “the” recommended release.

If the answer to both questions is no, then deploying on the recommended version probably makes sense, but discussing this with your partner or Sitecore representative is always a good idea.

I hope that this clears up some of the confusion. Overall, we’ve had very good experiences with the recommended version policy. Most customers appreciate the program and the clear differentiation between releases.

Of course, if you have any suggestions, we’re always interested in your input!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Tutorial: Writing your own OMS report

For those of you who haven't noticed, Chris Bushnell, a Technical Writer at Sitecore, has written a tutorial describing how to create a Sitecore OMS report based on a profile key.

Check it out here:

Creating an OMS Profile Score Report

Great work, Chris!

Monday, June 15, 2009

Why use "dynamic" sources in the packager?

Here's a little bit of advice that many people may not be aware of:
  • Use dynamic sources whenever possible when you create Sitecore packages.
If you're like me, your first instinct is to use static sources ("add items statically..." or "add files statically..."). That's because it seems easier to choose which items or files to add. It turns out, however, that dynamic sources, while a little harder to create, offer one great advantage; when you create a new package "From Existing...", the package new package will "re-run" the dynamic query to choose items. To understand the difference, consider this case:
  1. You create a package with all items under the "Home" item in the package.
  2. Install the package on a clean site.
  3. Delete most of the items and create a bunch of new items under Home.
  4. Create a new package "From Existing..." (an option in the New drop down menu).
    • If, in step 1 you used "static" sources, the new package will NOT include the new items under Home.
    • If, in step 1 you used "dynamic" sources, the new package will include the new items under Home.
Thus, using dynamic sources allows you to recreate a new package when you've made lots of changes very easily, where as you almost need to start from scratch with static sources. Hope this helps a few people out there!

Friday, October 3, 2008

CMS 6: Allow on User Overrides Deny on Role

OK, I suppose it could be fair to accuse me of being, perhaps, a tad bit on the quiet side with respect to my blog recently. Oh, all right, for the last year or so.

My apologizes.

I can give loads of excuses, but really, I just haven't had much to say. There are many excellent Sitecore bloggers who've done a much better job than I could at bringing forth interesting information.

Perhaps I could have mentioned that we have passed the 2000 certified developers mark (which happened a little while ago), but given that my last post mentioned that we had passed the 1000 mark, I was afraid that doing so would make my blog seem repetitive.

In any case, I do have a little tidbit today that I thought might interest some of you.

In Sitecore CMS 5, our security model had a simple rule:

Deny always overrides Allow

It was one of those simple, clean rules that's easy to explain, but that generally caught people off guard during training, when we asked new developers, "If Audrey is explicitly ALLOWED Write access to item X, but is also a member of the Author role, which is explicitly DENIED Write access to item X, do you think Audrey will be able to change the item or not?"

When you know the rule, the answer is simple, deny always overrides allow, therefore Audrey does not have Write access.

Alas, many people, perhaps even a majority of people, found this confusing. They thought that explicitly allowing Audrey Write access should override the denied access applied to a role.

Well, in Sitecore CMS 6, we've listened to these people and changed the rule. Sadly, this makes the rule a little more complex, but we think people will like it anyway. The rule is now:

Allow set on a User overrides Deny set on a Role, but Deny set on one Role will override Allow set on another Role.

It's still pretty simple, if you ask me.


Thursday, September 6, 2007

Over 1000 Certified Sitecore V5 Developers

I’m proud to announce that today we certified our 1000th Sitecore V5 developer (and our 1001st and 1002nd).

The number of certified developers is increasing worldwide at an average rate of about 70 developers a month. What's more, about 30% of our certified developers go on to become certified in our API as well (what we call Level 2 certification).

Thanks to all our dedicated Sitecore training centers and instructors for their help in reaching this milestone!

All our certified developers have filled out evaluation forms at the end of training and the results are overwhelmingly positive, especially in their praise of our high quality Sitecore instructors.

If you haven't attended Sitecore training yet, visit the Training section of our website to learn more about the training courses available near you!

Monday, July 23, 2007

Bringing Wizards to the Desktop

It's been a while since my last post, which faithful readers will come to know means that I've been busy doing a lot of writing for my day job at Sitecore. I want to take a second to point out a couple of quiet releases we've made recently. In particular, the Extranet and the Wizard modules.

Now, those of you who have subscribed to the Downloads RSS Feed have probably already noticed these, but I want to point out a couple of special features about both of these.

  1. Desktop Wizards - with source code!

    Both these modules provide full featured wizard style interfaces that run automatically after the package installation and are available via the Sitecore "start" menu.

    What's so cool about that?

    Well, for one thing, the Extranet wizard allows you to add a login form to all the items based on a set of templates in a few clicks. Doing this manually is straight-forward, but after you've opened a template, then opened its corresponding standard values, then opened the Presentation tab, then opened the Layouts drop list, then selected the Edit button, then selected the Add button, located the login form sublayout, typed in the placeholder, and finally selected the OK button on all open dialogs a few times, you realize that this can get tedious if you have to do it for 20 templates.

    With the Extranet configuration wizard, the effort required for 1 template is just a few clicks, and for each additional templates just add a click or two more.

    This is great, of course, if you want to add a protected area on your website (and the Extranet module saves you days of work if you do, plus it's free!).

    Even more importantly, however, we provide the source code and detailed documentation explaining how its all done!

    And, you guessed it, that's not all!

    The wizard module provides you a nice, clean, easy to understand, minimal yet functional, sample wizard that you can use as the starting point for your own configuration wizard (or any other kind of wizard that you want to create). And once again, it's free, the source code is provided, and the documentation explains everything you need to know.

    If you've been thinking about extending the Sitecore Desktop but haven't known where to start, the Wizard module is just what you're looking for!

  2. Starter Kit Plug & Play

    Another great thing about both these modules is that they know when they are being installed in a site that has been developed using a Sitecore Starter Kit. That means that the installation program knows what placeholders exist and therefore can position the login form and other functionality automatically.

    This is a great advantage for those of you who are leveraging a starter kit to shorten development time so that you can increase value for your customers.

    Our vision is to continue this approach for all our modules eventually.

So if you want to get a glimpse of the future, and perhaps to start contributing to the future yourself, have a look at these two free modules!

As always, we look forward to your feedback and ideas for improvements. Please don't hesitate to contact me if you have either.