Our Sitecore MVPs reveal what happened
A group of our Sitecore developers (Ian Graham, David Mills and Matthew Neil) packed their bags and travelled over to Berlin this April to attend the Sitecore user group convention (SUGCON). The event has grown from small Dutch and Nordic user groups into a large scale European event.
The event, held at the Estrel hotel in Berlin, is an opportunity for most of the leading members from the Sitecore community to all gather in on place to share experiences, ways of working and useful new features. For Kagool, it’s an excellent chance to meet face to face with the developers who are building Sitecore and share their vision in how to fully utilise the tools they’re providing to best serve our clients.
As a Sitecore partner agency it’s imperative that we stay up to date with the latest trends, tool developments and Sitecore practices to continue to deliver innovative websites.
Innovation and evolution
This year the opening keynote came from Pieter Brinkman (Director of Developer and Platform Evangelism) and Terry Fortescue (Sitecore’s Vice President of Product Marketing). The keynote focussed on the innovation and evolution of the platform as well as celebrating the Sitecore community
Some key announcements included:
- A release cadence for Sitecore so that customers know when they will receive product updates.
- All the patches that Sitecore creates will never include any breaking changes.
- Sitecore are now improving their processes with more QA.
- Key areas of innovation: headless capabilities with JSS, API layers with xConnect, machine learning with Cortex
After the keynote session on the first day our team were all invited to the wonderful world of Sitecoreland! You can imagine the joy in a room of Sitecore specialists when this presentation began. The presentation showcased xConnect and its multi-channel capabilities by using Commerce 9, SXA and IoT (internet of things) to drive a powerful Sitecoreland experience.
Disneyland’s ride booking system was used as a model to produce a demo that would allow users to purchase fast passes. Amongst SXA, Sitecore commerce and xConnect being showcased was Kagool’s MVP Jeremy Davis! In fact, he actually featured in nearly every slide, we’re still unsure if this was for comedic value or just that he is just really enthusiastic about the concept of Sitecoreland.
One of the major items of interest for developers this year was the JSS team that presented their progress towards their first release in Autumn of this year.
During Kam Figy’s talk about ‘Uber modern APIs for Sitecore’ our team learned about the latest version of JSS with GraphQL support as a technical preview. JSS is a new addition to the Sitecore world and will allow Sitecore customers the benefits of true client-side applications running on Sitecore.
Using client-side applications allows for a faster more reactive application and is the type of technology that is currently powering a lot of the major enterprise websites such as Google, Facebook and Instagram. Understandably this caught our team’s attention, however it certainly wasn’t the only topic of interest as some workshops around Sitecore 9 were set to follow.
Scaling and saving money
For Kagool, we always want to deliver on outstanding design, build, UX and of course value for our clients. The sessions that our team attended extended their knowledge on how to do this.
‘Every business and marketer has their budget restraints, learning in more detail about how and when to scale Sitecore 9 was exactly the area of discussion we were keen to be a part of’ explained Ian Graham, Senior Developer and MVP at Kagool. ‘It’s important for developers to be continuously on the look-out for new tools and practices that will ensure services perform well at a minimum cost to the client’ added David Mills, Senior Developer.
Thomas Eldblom presented on the Sitecore Installation Framework (SIF), explaining how to customise the framework and use SIF to install only the components required. Another highlight for our team was the demo on how to set up a slimmed down dev environment and the importance of getting to grips with SIF.
Personalization and automation
With UX and integration at the forefront of their minds, our team’s visit highlights also include the talk on XConnect (the service layer that sits in between the xDB and any trusted interface to wants to communicate or perform data searches) and how to make the most of Sitecore’s data gathering and experience tools to give users a personalized experience.
Another key topic of discussion at the event for our team was the out of the box tool kit that allows marketers to automate their workflows. The Marketing Automation feature is great for non-technical administrators, it uses a simple drag and drop interface and allows marketers to have full control over the full process to work efficiently and effectively.
White Hat Hackers
“Everything you put on the internet is not hidden” was the key takeaway from Mikkel Romer’s guide to the internet. This presentation was a reminder that as guardians of websites we should always expect automated attacks. Mikkel explained how he had created a bot to scan the internet for Sitecore sites and test them for vulnerabilities. His testing found 3531 sites and revealed some worrying statistics on how many had the potential to be hacked. Definitely not a subject to take lightly.
Sitecore XDB and GDPR applied
Often a subject that gains yawning responses, however Rob Habraken seemed to catch the audience’s attention with his no-nonsense approach to what developers need to know about GDPR and how to best advise their customers. Rob detailed a 6-point plan about how to achieve GDPR compliance and just how to execute the right to be forgotten in Sitecore 9 using coding examples.
Sitecore MVP Awards
As always SUGCON was a great learning experience and also a great place to meet new members of the community and for our MVPs to catch up with old friends. It was also an opportunity for Ian Graham and Matthew Neil to pick up their well earnt awards; this was the third award for Ian and the first for Matt.
At the end of the conference Sitecore announced the location for next year’s event.
Fortunately, it will be on our doorstep here in London, UK.
Contact us today to get some expert advice about Sitecore.