Sitecore Symposium 2018 – Welcome to Sitecore 9.1

As the dust settles after this years annual Sitecore Symposium, I thought it would be good to share a few highlights – in particular what 9.1 has in store. 

Sitecore 9.1

The big news this year was around the imminent release of Sitecore 9.1 and all the neat new features it offers.

  • JSS – Javascript services – The layout service and GraphQL integration
  • Cortex – A machine learning integration built into the xDB & personalization layers
  • Universal tracker – A way of sending data into xDB from any source
  • Sitecore Host – The new underlying frameworks for things like Sitecore Identity
  • Sitecore Identity – An integration with Identity Server to provide Single Sign On througout many apps. Eventually providing the ability to remove reliance on the Membership tables
  • Simplified and streamlined deployment packages for XM deploys – one goal here, to really help with startup times in the cloud

1. JSS

If you managed to miss any information on JSS which sessions did you attend?!?! From the keynote to many breakout sessions, JSS and the headless revolution was one of the hot topics this year! It was announced that as of 9.1 it will no longer be in Technical Preview. All developers should now have many new API’s to call on if needed, including a GraphQL endpoint over the Sitecore DB’s. This opens up really interesting possibilities for the reach of personalized Sitecore content – you can easily consume any page or content within non-sitecore web sites, mobile apps, console apps – you name it.

One highlight, Alex Shyba took everyone through the whole workflow of designing a page in react studio => deployable connected app, all in 40 mins!

2. The Universal tracker

If you look at the way Sitecore are approaching the move to things like dotnet core, it’s very much around splicing out functional areas of the application. Some examples are things like xConnect, the publishing service & marketing automation.

The universal tracker is another example – a new scalable micro service that allows analytic data from any source to be sent into xDB. You can add multiple databases to buffer data before it gets crunched and sent to xDB. There are pipelines that run during this process so if you need to enrich any events or interactions it can be done.

From your external app/system you simply need to concoct some rest calls into the new service. ATM this only allows pushing data into xDB, there is no concept of GET’s yet.

3. Sitecore Host

Underpinning a lot of the new apps that Sitecore are developing is the Sitecore Host layer, a new dotnet core framework. The goal is to provide common features such as logging, messaging, config management, dependency injection and a raft more that can be shared throughout other consumers.

A working example of this is the new Sitecore Identity layer which allows Single Sign On built off Identity Server.

What’s really nice about this approach is your apps & features can cherry pick the required functionality they want. Then, if a specific feature doesn’t exist you can include custom plugins to build out your own implementations.

What does the future hold?

The new framework is all based around dotnet core which opens up very interesting possibilities around containerization, hosting and how you choose to run your application. Who knows, in the future we may no longer need to run your Sitecore stack on the same hosting, cloud provider or operating system!

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