Sitecore 8.1, xDB and MongoDB feature at Sugcon 2015

15th June 2015

Developers the "new marketers", Sitecore 8.1, data, beer and bitterballen!

Kagool’s Sitecore aficianados set off for the Netherlands to attend the Dutch Sitecore user group.

This year the conference was held at the High Tech Campus in Eindhoven. After a quick mingle with the members of the Sitecore community it was time for the key note speech – delivered by one of Sitecore’s founding fathers, Lars Fløe Nielsen.

Lars set the tone of the conference brilliantly. He gave us a retrospective look of how Sitecore has developed from a simple “type writer” for the web to an all-encompassing Experience platform and how Sitecore is now able to manage data across channels. Lars explained that the most successful companies provide a “connected experience” across all channels to serve the connected consumer. Lars gave us a compelling case study of how Heineken are using the Experience platform to connect the dots between email campaigns and social media using xDB. There was also a look to the future of the platform and what’s coming in Sitecore 8.1. It was hinted that this next version would be in alignment with ASP.NET 5.0 and also that MVC would play a big part. To be ready for this version solutions need to be using MVC and Web forms would become legacy. The main takeaway from the key note was that Sitecore is now all about data, and because as developers we understand data – we are the “new marketers”.

The conference continued the theme of data and there were some really great sessions from Todd Mitchell and Ruud van Falier on xDB. Todd explained the mechanics of xDB and how it can be used as a profile store to enhance customer data. There was also a look at how data from a call centre could be imported into xDB and how users could be segmented according to their experience. Ruud’s session went into detail on how you can start working with MongoDB and add facets to store custom data in xDB.

After lunch, Kagool’s Mike Robbins gave us a deep dive into the Entity service, Sitecore’s new web api offering, and how you can access Sitecore data outside the context of Sitecore. Mike bravely live coded an example SPEAK application bringing together Models, Controllers and JavaScript libraries to create an impressive brochure administrative tool.

The conference sessions ended with a highly entertaining meme-filled presentation by Martina Welander titled “Dude, where does my data go”. Martina presented the various options we have for storing and organising data and explained the balancing act that we need to perform between performance, maintainability and usability. Martina gave her view on how to store user generated content, and when to use data sources. The slide on data sources was enhanced by some genius Photoshop work featuring Kagool’s very own Martin Davies complete with top hat and monocle!.

The day ended with beers and dutch bitterballen (meat filled croquets), which gave us a chance to chat with other Sitecorians before heading back to Wales.