Sitecore modules

9th June 2016

A roundup of some of the best Sitecore modules from a Sitecore MVP

You’ll often hear about Sitecore being “out-of-the-box”. In many ways it’s true. But what’s more valuable is the Sitecore modules which help make your site unique.

When you install Sitecore you’re essentially installing a core product for content management. Sure there are plenty of built-in analytics and marketing features. But in reality, you get a blank canvas that can be customised for each solution. And that’s a good thing.

What are Sitecore modules?

When needed, Sitecore modules can be installed into the core product to meet each solutions’ need. These modules are divided into two categories:

  • Sitecore official modules – modules created and supported by Sitecore
  • Sitecore community modules – unofficial modules developed by the Sitecore community that are downloadable from the Sitecore Market place

Over the past three years I’ve worked with both official and unofficial modules. Here’s my list of the top five Sitecore modules:

1. Web Forms For Marketers (WFFM) – Official Module

WFFM is number one on my list, simply because it gets installed every time. Marketers love this tool and get a great deal of mileage out of it. WFFM lets marketers build forms, loaded with validation, without the need for developer input.

Marketers can also set up actions that follow form submissions. For example, Sitecore can automatically register users, send emails or add users to campaigns. And new custom actions can be setup to perform any action you want after a form submission. So, you could write an action to create leads in your own CRM system.

In WFFM 8.1 there’s also strong integration with xDB so that profile information can be gathered.

2. Sitecore Powershell Extensions

As any hard-core developer will tell you, UIs are for wimps. Command prompts are the way forward. Powershell is like the mother of all command prompts and it allows you to control all aspects of Windows operating system and perform mind numbing laborious tasks with a few key strokes.

The creators of Sitecore Powershell have taken the concepts of Windows Powershell and ported them to Sitecore. It is always useful to install this module as you never know when you might need it.

Say for instance you needed to create language versions for 2000 Sitecore items or change the template of every News article page. With a few lines of code entered into the Sitecore Powershell command prompt you can automate this process and have those changes made within a matter of minutes.

3. Sitecore Instance Manager (SIM)

This is not strictly a module, more a Sitecore tool. If you’re setting up Sitecore on a daily basis then it’s a must have. SIM is a standalone tool that allows you to easily install and manage your Sitecore instances.

With SIM all the necessary copying of files, attaching of databases, setting up of IIS and folder permissions is all handled for you. So you can create a “vanilla” Sitecore instance within a matter of minutes. It also gives you the option to install extra Sitecore modules after install and set up Mongo DB.

4. 301 Redirect

When migrating to a new Sitecore installation, 301 redirects are invaluable for maintaining good SEO. That’s why this module is always handy to install.

Using this Sitecore module, 301 redirects can easily be managed by marketers. This eliminates the need for setting server side redirects in IIS. The 301 Redirect module supports wildcards and exact match redirects.

5. Log Analyser

The Log Analyser is another great Sitecore module for every developer’s toolkit. With a large enterprise platform like Sitecore there are lots of parts to keep track of. This can make debugging very tricky. It’s not hard to get overwhelmed with the number of log files and log entries.

This tool is a standalone application that can be used to analyse the logs that Sitecore creates. It essentially lets you filter out the noise in the logs. So you can focus on finding errors in a nice easy to use format.

Using Sitecore modules for better builds

We often praise Sitecore for its built-in capabilities. But, on the other hand, it’s also valuable as a blank canvas. This is what makes Sitecore so great for all kinds of businesses at enterprise level. With the help of Sitecore modules, an installation can be anything it needs to be.

Whether you’re a national household name or a brand with global reach, Sitecore makes it easy to integrate the modules best suited to your unique business needs. Using the right Sitecore modules also makes things easier and quicker for developers. So you save on build time and costs.

If you want to know more about how Sitecore modules can benefit your Sitecore website, why not get in touch? If you’re new to Sitecore, we’d love to give you a free Sitecore demo.

If you’re already on Sitecore and you think there’s work to be done, talk to us about having a Sitecore audit. And see if our Sitecore experts can help you fill in the gaps. Fill out the form below and we’ll get back to you shortly.