Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Sitecore User Group next Session - 23 October

A new session of the Sitecore user group is up and comming.
This time the event will be hosted in Ghent, in the Zebrastraat location.

More details can be found here:
http://www.meetup.com/Sitecore-User-Group-Belgium/events/197698722/

But I have listed the details below as well:

Sitecore User Group (SUG) BELUX #2 - Sitecore Symposium Highlights & How-to CRM
This event aims at building an eclectic Sitecore community to share experience and knowledge.
• Welcome: Short introduction into the agenda and future SUG approach. 
• Session 1 : Sitecore Symposium Highlights Sitecore Symposium Barcelona on September 15-17.
The Sessions, The Speakers, The Roadmap, The Vision.
We will try to capture as much information as possible and compress everything into a good first high-level presentation. Follow-up sessions on specific topics may be needed to show the opportunities and impact that certain new product features might bring.
Insight presentation and Q&A
Speaker: TBC
• Session 2 : How-to (e-)CRM ?
What is the best practice of linking a CRM with Sitecore?
Which CRM systems are best fit for Sitecore?
What are the Pros and Cons of the various CRMs.
How mature is Sitecore in serving as a full-fledged e-CRM solution ? 
Case Study and Q&A
Speaker: Johan Becue - Sitecore Technical Consultant
• Network and mingle time Featuring food and drinks 

Sitecore Modules - Can big become bigger ?

Introduction

This post mainly focusses on Sitecore's approach and ability to handle modules and add-on functionalities. What Sitecore's focus is and what they have in store for us in the near future.

Furthermore :
  • What is the idea behind modules (in Sitecore)
  • Where can we find modules
  • What are some of the best modules out there
  • What is the Sitecore vision and strategy ?
This blog post is inspired on the presentation given on the first SUG-BeLux event where I hosted this session. More information can be found here: 
http://www.meetup.com/Sitecore-User-Group-Belgium/events/185264512/
More specifcally, the presentation on Sitecore and modules can be found here:

All presentations and information provided by the SUG can always be found here:

What is the idea behind modules?

Modules are meant to serve as catalysts. Either by providing better tools, functionality or insight into your solution from a developer's point of view or by aiding the customer by expanding the toolbox and flexibility that your solution can offer.

In short, they can:
  • Provide substantial aid for development
  • Speed up content editing process
  • Simplify analytics and/or marketing tasks
The danger behind modules however is that then tend to grow out of control. Some modules are no longer supported, lack features other similar modules do have (in other words, they start to fork) which in turn results in a large mass of modules that become hard to syphon through and obfuscate the true intent.

What do modules tend to handle ?
  • Business specific functionalites (event overview, calendars, news overviews)
  • Integration specifc tools (CRM/ERP integrations, legacy system integrations)
  • Recurring web (2.0) features (Blog, Forum, Online forms, Poll, Chat)

Where can we find Sitecore modules ?

At this moment there are three categories/places where we can find modules:
There are a number of pro's and con's to these platforms/places with regards to ownership, investment, functional matches and ROI. 
I will not go into the details of listing these below however, you can find the detailed information in my presentation above.

The good part however, is that Sitecore is backing a number of these modules and platforms. Sitecore has however nog been developing loads of functional modules but has rather placed it's focus on their core Experience platform. (More to be revealed in the upcomming Sitecore Symposium in Barcelona)

What are some of the best modules out there ?

I have listed a number of modules in the presentation that are very prominent at this point. Please find the details there, however, it is clear that the most interesting modules are those that work purely as a implementation accelerator or help speed up editing processes.

Furthermore, the personalization aspect of Sitecore (experience platform / DMS) shows up here as well under the form of the SBOS Accelerators toolkit. A toolkit that helps and builds on top of the DMS functionalities and is to be used in combination with the SBOS sessions done in combination with Sitecore or one of their partners.

What is the Sitecore vision and strategy ?

The presentation and vision on Sitecore and Modules was revised by Pieter Brinckman and Jimmie Overby

The mentioned that the Sitecore Marketplace is a first effort, of many others to follow...
One of these others that fit into that strategy is the https://kb.sitecore.net that helps you find how-to's and other relevant information.

Sitecore apparently has a dedicated development team that is currently working on multiple sites to be used by the development community. This same team is looking for input and new specs to realize and release a new version of the Marketplace (a second version as it were) where they still strive to make code sharing one of the keys to success for both Sitecore as their partners.

Modules should be what keeps the community on their tips and Sitecore is more then willing to discuss on ideas and reach out to the contributors but has no intent of copying any ideas or incorporating these modules into their product. Since that would create a conflict of interest and remove the power and drive behind the community.

I quote: "Code ownership is kept in mind. We want to motivate to create modules".

Conclusion

A lot is possible with an out of the box Sitecore, but some of the functionalities often need to be enriched or added to meet the customer demands. The Sitecore initiatives and the community building on top of these are definately boosting this concept. However, I would not mind to see Sitecore react quicker on such an evolving market by updating modules (Webforms for marketeers / ECM ) quicker and with a clearer roadmap. Event the acquisition and takeover of much used functionalities / modules seems to me as a smart move since the same modules can now easily become discarded, outversioned and obsolete.

I will definately be making a followup post on this topic since the Symposium holds promise of new SDN modules that are upcomming. Sitecore has been announcing a large pool of valuable, cool and surprising changes that are to be revealed in September.