On the 4th of April 2019 in London, United Kingdom, SUGCON 2019 started with a welcome and keynote by Sitecore CTO Mark Frost. The focus was on the importance of community, developers in particular, and that Sitecore is investing in this community of highly skilled people – and these people will help customers achieve their goals. Sitecore’s CTO announced that this year’s Sitecore user group conference – Europe 2019- has more than 40 sessions and more than 600 people, in addition to more than 40 Sitecore employees. Mark also announced that this year the Sitecore community will have a Sitecore user group conference – Australia in August 2019, as well as a Sitecore user group conference in India on May 2019.
The second part of the keynote was a wonderful DevOps talk by Senior DevOps Program Manager at Microsoft, Donovan Brown. Donovan talked about DevOps’ different features and the importance for organizations and dev teams to use it. Donovan defined DevOps as “The union of people, process, and products to enable continuous delivery of value to our end users”. DevOps brings together people, process, and products, and converts the software delivery in a more automatic way and will make the delivery process faster and continuous, no matter the team size or the tools used.
At Americaneagle.com we use Azure DevOps in many projects for our clients; it helps us to simplify the development and deployment processes, and the improvement of software development quality and speed offered by the Continues Integration (CI) and continues deployment (CD) is amazing.
Day one was full of interesting sessions, from marketing automation overview, debugging and deployment, to the Sitecore Helix updates by Nick Wesslman, a senior technical product manager. Nick talked about Sitecore Helix, community feedback, in addition to how things are evolving when it comes to Sitecore Helix. Nicks explained why Sitecore is not only a CMS, but it’s also a platform, with a very robust model that allow integrations with other systems. Sitecore Helix is needed to distinguish parts, organize dependency, and minimize the time and effort for finding and applying changes.
Nick also announced a couple of things related to Sitecore Helix, as, later this year, Helix Guidance for JSS will be available, Multi-site and project layer HTML in addition to Recipes, How To’s, Anti Patterns Smells.
Nick also mentioned that Habitat will be retired and Helix examples will be provided, and Helix Digitize Training will be available in June of this year, in addition to Helix examples that will be multiple examples, developer focused, simple functionality, basic design, multi-site, minimal platform customization, in addition to leverage the community tooling.
At the end of day 1, it was the time to announce the winners of the Sitecore Hackathon 2019, which is a free online community driven event organized by Akshay Sura and supported by Sitecore. One of our Americaneagle.com teams participated - “Sitecorps” won the best Sitecore JSS module category as the team submitted a JSS Link Tracker Module in 24-hours - there were 97 teams in the competition from more than 25 countries.
At the end of day one, Tamas Varga, Senior Technical Engineer at Sitecore, talked about the Sitecore Most Valuable Professional (MVP) program. Every year Sitecore recognizes individuals who have a passion to share knowledge and experience through participation in online and offline activities of the Sitecore community. The MVP program has four categories: Technology, Strategy, Ambassadors and Commerce.
The award is around individual community involvement on a specific topic, in addition this involvement should be beyond day job. This could be 5 – 10 hours/week of personal time as well as a time for learning new stuff on top of that. At Americaneagle.com we have five Sitecore MVPs, three Sitecore Technology MVPs, one Sitecore Strategy MVP and one Sitecore Ambassador MVP.
The second day of SUGCON was full of technical sessions and news on the coming Sitecore updates. Interesting sessions, starting with how you can apply AB testing or profile cards at scale, to the application performance, talked about tools, patterns, signs adding to the ideas, and practices to follow that will enhance your overall application performance. Also, a live demo of Sitecore Universal tracker was done, which is one of the interesting features that was released with Sitecore 9.1 at the end of 2018.
The closing of day two was by Sitecore JSS team and Pieter Brinkman/Senior Director Technical Marketing at Sitecore, where they talked about the coming features and enhancements in the next Sitecore major release, Sitecore 9.2.
Sitecore keeps improving because they focus on continuous innovation to find solutions to solve the problems of tomorrow. In addition, they focus on the time to market, to speed through the project lifecycle in addition to enhancements, a rock solid stability and performance – and they love receiving feedback.
Sitecore JSS will support Sitecore Experience Accelerator (SXA), in addition to the integration between Sitecore JSS and Sitecore Forms, Sitecore Host will be upgraded to the latest .Net core. In addition to Architecture changes to support future direction, Sitecore Identity Improvements like Single Sign Out, token validation, and persistent storage, the Sitecore publishing service will be on top of Sitecore Host.
Sitecore’s Install Assistant (SIA) a GUI for SIF, will be provided with the next release. It is a wrapper for SIF, the first release will be only for XP0 installation and it will be a quick start for non-technical users and developers.
Sitecore Helix will be more focused on the why and core principles of helix, new sets of examples, new UX designs, alter and new visual studio project structures, and guidance for structuring for commerce and xConnect.
Sitecore 9.2 will have the active personalization report, a single location where you can find information about personalization.
Sitecore 9.2 will have a xDB Data Purging, an API to allow maintenance and purging of data within XDB, meet regularity criteria as GDPR, limit and reduce size of xDB, and decrease the rebuild time.
Robot Detection will be enhanced in the next Sitecore major release, updating detection to identify new malicious bots, improved 30+ rules triggered on robot traffic, and improved analytics to filter out bot traffic.
Sitecore 9.2 will use Rainbow format for serialization, YAML file format will be used for serialization, in addition to search improvements like a brand new Sitecore search role. Lucence is now obsolete and there will now be better control of fields indexing in Azure search as well as tracker improvements to reduce the number of requests to xConnect, session end improvements, and server role assignments.
About the Author: Mohammed Syam
Mohammed has a Masters degree in Computer Sciences, has been a Sitecore Most valuable Professional (MVP) since 2016 (2016-2019), and is a Sitecore Hackathon 2019 winner.
He has been in software development since 2009, and working with Sitecore since 2015. He has also been working as a senior Sitecore developer / Sitecore Architect with Americaneagle.com since 2017.
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