Two New Features that Stood Out at Sitecore Symposium 2016

The 2016 Sitecore Symposium that took place September 14-16 in New Orleans was a true mix of “work” and play. One of my favorite things about symposiums is the quality of the speakers and the content that they are able to deliver in such a short period of time.
As usual, we had Michael Seifert and his partner in crime Darren Guarnaccia put on an awesome opening keynote demonstrating some of the new things Sitecore has to offer. Two features in particular really caught my eye: the Sitecore Experience Accelerator (SXA) and Sitecore Commerce.
Here are the aspects of each feature that I am most excited about.

Introducing Sitecore Experience Accelerator (SXA)

SXA’s end goal is to speed up the production of websites by reducing time to market. How? By enabling you to choose from a toolbox with around 100 pre-built, reusable renderings that can be dragged and dropped onto your page. These renderings range from simple text and images to videos and social media plugins.

introducing-sitecore-experience-accelerator-picture-5-rid10-1725164386

Imagine your content authors starting to enter content in the wireframe environment while the front-end developers work on the theme and the back-end developer sets up data templates. SXA allows different work streams to run in parallel, enabling your team to focus on the high-impact requirements that usually get pushed into phase two.

Highlights

Dynamic Wireframes

The ability to create wireframes directly in the Sitecore Experience editor allows design and content entry to start immediately afterwards. Wireframes can be exported as static HTML, CSS, and JavaScript, sent to a creative agency for completion and then be imported back into Sitecore as a theme to be easily switched between to your liking.

Built on Best Practices

Components are ready for personalization out of the box and code that is generated follows Sitecore’s Helix best practices.

Extensible

Every website has some unique feature about it, or something that’s just ever so slightly different than what you’ve done before. Want to add your own components to SXA’s toolbox? Want to customize existing ones to meet your needs? No problem!
Interests peaked? Get your hands on it here.
This doesn’t begin to scratch the surface of what this new offering is capable of. You can read more about it here.

Sitecore Commerce vNext

The symposium also included the announcement of Sitecore Commerce vNext. In November 2013, Sitecore acquired commerceserver.net and has since been tirelessly working on properly integrating and retooling the product from the ground up. No more using two separate systems to manage your web content and web store. No more customer disconnects with disparate browsing and shopping experiences.

The unique, tailored experiences you’ll be able to deliver your e-commerce customers with the power of the Sitecore Experience Platform will be truly unparalleled. As Sitecore has grown, it continually shows how great it is at natively integrating new features, and this promises to get you even closer to the highly sought after 360-degree view of the customer. Commerce vNext is set to roll out in 2017.

Bonus: Developer Community

We asked and Sitecore listened. An official StackExchange has been created for Sitecore specific Q&A. The approval of this happened in record time, a great reflection of the Sitecore community. Looking to get access? It’s still in beta, but you can get access by contacting Pete Navarra.
If that was not enough, Sitecore also released a public Nuget feed. Now we as developers have an official, stable source for references we can add to our projects. Looking for details on getting started using it? Check out this post by Jeremy Davis. Use Nugetify? Kam Figy walks you through it here.

I couldn’t be more excited about Sitecore Symposium 2017 to see the next level of Sitecore. See you there!

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