Exploring new features in Sitecore 9.1

March 2019

Read Time: 4 minutes

 

Sitecore 9.1 is out with some exciting features having impact on stakeholders like back-end developer, front-end developer, infrastructure team, marketers, business owners etc. Let’s go through major new features of Sitecore 9.1

 

1. SIF 2.0

With Sitecore 9 release, Sitecore also released PowerShell based installation framework which always have been trickier than previous version. With SIF 2.0, Sitecore not only has fixed issues in earlier version but added new capabilities. SIF 2.0 has ability to install all prerequisite required for installation. This is still not one click install but quite close to that. Following are steps to install Sitecore 9.1

  1. Install .Net core 2.1 runtime
  2. Install Solr 7.2.1 with SSL
  3. Install prerequisite
  4. Install Sitecore

 

2. Sitecore Host Base

Sitecore has extracted the services from Sitecore.Kernel into individual independent services like caching, messaging, logging etc. Sitecore host is the new starting point for developers and provides only the core services of the platform. Sitecore Host ensures that services and apps have a uniform deployment, allowing them to have a lean common run-time and configuration compared to earlier monolithic structure and mixing libraries and configurations.

 

 

 

 

3. Sitecore Identity

For authentication, Sitecore used to have simple implementation of ASP.NET membership based forms authentication and was coupled with Sitecore CMS.  All authentication in Sitecore 9.1 is handled by a separate standalone .NET Core application. The .NET core app is based on the IdentityServer4 framework and supports Single Sign-On with OpenID. Identity streamlines login processes for not only Sitecore, but potentially for other applications that run alongside Sitecore.

 

4. Sitecore JavaScript Services – Headless

The purpose of headless development is to ensure that user-generated content is always abstracted away from presentational markup and delivery. Sitecore has always been a headless architecture but for backend developers. Sitecore JSS is new programming framework which makes front end developer first class citizen.

Front End developers can have access to pure content without all the overhead that comes with a Sitecore installation. Sitecore eCommerce application where services are supported through the API and delivered vis JSS can use web content management API directly. Front End developers can now develop and deploy their code to any platform using their own languages and frameworks of choices. Their solution can be fully disconnected from Sitecore and be self-contained which allows easy management and deployment.

 

 

5. Sitecore Experience Accelerator (SxA)

Sitecore Experience Accelerator or SXA is a quicker way to launch a Sitecore website which allows content teams to design, build, and deploy content on an omni-channel level, with fewer development resources than would normally be experienced. In 9.1, SXA offers WCAG 2.0 compliant websites creation featuring some key accessibility features:

  • Validates that pages with out-of-the-box (OOTB) mark-up are accessible by users of screen readers
  • Ensures components can be configured for people with disabilities
  • Populates, by default, the image “Alt” field so that it that can be read by screen readers
  • Provides large clickable actions for people with motor disabilities
  • Provides guidelines to designers and authors 

 

6. Machine Learning – Cortex

Sitecore Cortex is a Machine Learning engine for generating real-time insights by allowing flexible integration with other ML engines and algorithms such as Salesforce Marketing Cloud, Einstein, or IBM Watson. New feature in 9.1 called Content Tagging is one use case of machine learning that creates information taxonomies used in automated personalization recommendations.

 

 

7. Sitecore Forms Enhancement

In Sitecore 9.1, Sitecore not only has fixed issue in previous version but also added some exciting features like ability to add conditions to the form elements and pre-filling of form fields with relevant data. It allows the users to change existing data and it also allows the pre-filling of fields to prevent users from having to re-enter data.

 

 

8. Content Tagging

Content tagging is a new feature in Sitecore 9.1 that allows integration with machine learning processing engines using Cortex. On each item, under Standard Fields, there is a new “Tagging” section that allows tags to be assigned to your content. Content authors will be able to take advantage of automatic content tagging capabilities which are automatically generated for authors using the Tag Item button in the ribbon.

 

 

 

 

9. Horizon

Horizon allows content experiences with real-time insights on where content generates value. Sitecore’s next-generation web content editing user experience, known as “Horizon,” has been unlocked for all core editing use cases. Horizon changes the way marketers design pages, with an intuitive drag-and-drop interface, device-specific previews and analytics that provide real-time contextual insights as content is created and published. The streamlined interface relieves productivity constraints on content authors and editors and enables a truly data-driven approach to experience development.

 

 

10. Other enhancements

    1. Reduced Cold start time to half for Sitecore CM
    2. Integration with latest 3rd party versions
    3. Helix enhancement including foundation, features and folder to content tree
    4. Bin folder has almost half the dlls than previous version
    5. Item class now has a DescendsFrom which is part of item inheritance
    6. Content Delivery now does not need a Core Database connection string
    7. Content Delivery can now be configured without Sitecore security (membership provider)

 

  

 

 

 

Author: Amit Singh: Executive Director, Co-head, Enterprise Technology and Services, Avendus Capital