Sitecore 5.3.1 – What do I expect?

Several of the Sitecore employees who participate in the community are talking about 5.3.1. As for all the major product updates, a revisions comes up quickly as somehow the product is never 100% tested and concept introduced in the new versions can’t have that much feedback before the final release. This doesn’t mean that 5.3(.0.0) is a bad version, it’s just a compliment to Sitecore that they do listen so carefully to their partners and customers.

Well what do I expect to be in 5.3.1 as notthing is really published so far, I’ll speculate a bit and ofcourse give my opion on what should be fixed :P:

  • First(Verified): Security Model enhanches, as Lars Fløe Nielsen explained in this topic.
  • Second(Verified): Puggable DataEngine as described on Ole’s blog
  • Third(MoSCoW: Must): The annoying language problems when renaming the default language and home nodes…? Although work around are available, this has high priority in my opinion.
  • Fourth(Should): Problems with indexes, link databases and internal links when renaming essential items like home nodes(fixable by rebuilding and reconfiguring, but still a workaround)
  • Fifth(Should): Incompabatility problems with the packager like not saving __Shared Values
  • Sixth(Must): Renaming languages makes it impossible to see button texts, etc.

Guess those are the most important ones. I’m quite sure Sitecore does work on 3-6, but as always a fix can not make it to the final version because of it’s untested or not stable enough. Do you guys have any idea what the new release will include? When I receive more info on 5.3.1 it will be posted here ofcourse…

By the way, for those smart guys who look at SPM: the roadmap isn’t with a new timetable… πŸ™

So much on my mind

Yes, guess that’s the right title for this post. Almost every day of the last 2 weeks, almost every hour and nearly every quarter I’ve decided to do a blogpost, but all of them didn’t make it. I guess it’s just because my head is just to full of ideas. I’ll tell you guys what goes on in my mind and what kind of projects I’m working on and what kind of ideas I’ve for Sitecore.

First of all, since the start of the month I haven’t been working anymore on just a closed project. Lots enhancement on already existing projects, customer questions and team/company/personal development came on my way.

By the way, we’re about to finish our first 5.3 projects. In a random order: an intranet(big up to my colleagues Ben and Sjoerd), a corporate website(nice job by my teamlead Martijn with some help from my side) and the website of our fourth division, SearchResult(xssssllllltééé the world, Max ;)). The last one will also become the base for all of our (LECTRIC) corporate websites. Would be nice to review the installation, but can’t do that before the launch. So far it looks nice, that’s all I can say. It’s good that our full team was able to deliver this amount of solutions so fast based on the new release Sitecore. I have to say that although some of my colleagues were a bit curious, they nowadays have seen the 5.3 product is indeed an improvement. They’ve used this positive amount of energy to provide the best feedback possible to the support team. Hopefully,  Ole and Jakob are finding the feedback usefull so they are able improve the product again and again. But as several Sitecore employees are already talking about 5.3.1, won’t that be a problem ;-). Later on 5.3.1 later today.

But Alex, tell us. what are you doing these days? Well actually, I’ve got several project, but mostly, I’m working on 2 intranets. Both of them are released this year and both of them are also the product of my hands(and some others). The first one is kind of the difference between version 1.1 and 1.1.1. Lots of small changes and no really conceptual onces. Oh well at least one… Meanwhile writing the 1.1, one of my colleagues did also integrate the LDAP module. Nowadays we’ve found out this gives some problems as we aren’t able to deploy it as the AD isn’t ready. Strategies on howto manage LDAP integration will be posted later this week. As I’ve seen this is quite hard. Thinking about it: supplying a checklist would be better, but guess this should be delivert at the same time Sitecore the product delivers. So don’t know if I’m going to send that one to Sitecore or post it over here… Anyway, it will contain questions like: What’s the structure of your AD, does we have to import fields, etc.

The other intranet I’m working is really a main revision. They want to change their navigation, the functionality on the portal-like homepage, news functionality from scratch, Word-module integration, changing FAQ-pages and Forum-module customisation. It’s quite a bunch and I’m the lucky guy that they’ve asked me to also change the interaction design. These wireframes(when they are finished, I’ll publish one), are describing functionality on a page, but not design at all. This is a good addition to design documents.

Last but not least, my head is full of ideas. I’m working on a revolutional custom field, one of the default XAML-apps but then the ++ of # variant πŸ˜‰ and at a revolutional concept which can change the way .NET based Sitecore solutions at all. The nice thing is that Peter Johansson is working with me together on these projects! So we’re able to review each others work.

That’s it for this post. I could make it way longer, but I should remain interesting to read. And I want to write another entry about 5.3.1 and won’t loose my inspiration :). Have a nice day and try to work… it is not yet 31 december… you party animals ;-).

Contextual Tabs

Just looked at this link on SDN5 and foud out you can configure some context menu’s and contextual tabs/ribbons using the Configure Tab/Ribbon. Interesting! Will come back on that. Will also be interesting if it’s on item level,and how to configure on template level for example :). Oh my god, I’m alive and kicking :D.

After installing 5.3 not allowed to access the DBBrowser?

After installing 5.3′, the install script has set some rights so you aren’t able to go to the DBBrowser for example. Ofcourse I do know that the tool isn’t supported by Sitecore, but as I’ve seen that it is enhanced in 5.3, I know it’s at least usefull… :).

But anyway,the message that appaeared wasn’t that friendly and usefull:

The only usefull information was ‘401.2’. So after some Googling(sorry guys, but Sitecoring is also a verb for me :P). I found this link: http://support.microsoft.com/kb/253667

Microsoft Support helped me out, I just had to turn on Anonymous Access for the specific folder(webstie/sitecore/admin):

Funny behaviour: my app-pool got a reset. I guess that’s explainable, but I noticed it…

For those who don’t know about which folder I’m talking and what the DBBrowser is, take a look at the following pages:

Note: I highly recommend to disallow the anonymous users when you migrate to a production environment!

Fun stuff around Field types, Contextual Tabs and the whole Ribbon-concept

Working on some custom fields(come back on those in later posts) and found out some crazy stuff:

First of all, there’s an excellent article about creating your own fields on SDN: Creating Custom Field. As a matter of fact, going to provide the documentation team some additional information, but as it is now, it’s also excellent. And it works for 5.1, 5.2 Ñnd 5.3!

Second. Did you guys know, it a bunch of work to configure a Contextual Ribbon? Actually didn’t make it at all. What I did found out is that the new Content Editor definitelly has some hardcoded stuff. For example, the Template-Contextual Ribbon. It doesn’t reffer back to another item where it should apply to? Or did I miss one?”
How I came to this conclusion, let me explain:

Looking at the Core database, you’ll find a node called /sitecore/system/ribbons/ribbons/. It contains 1 child: Default. That’s the default menu. The default menu has 9 default tabs/strips(Home, Navigate…….Security, View). Those items are created under the Home-tab. Changing the order of these items, does immediatelly(!) change the order of the tabs/strips in the Editor. Try it yourself!

Ribbon with changed order

Those tabs/strips are configured in /sitecore/systems/ribbons/strips/. For example, the Configure contains children with the names ‘Appearence’, ‘Masters’, ‘Template’, ‘Attributes’. Changing order does immediately affect again :). But anyway, you call these groups ‘Chunks’. Chunk are editable in….. /sitecore/systems/ribbons/chunks/. The contain the actions who trigger events, which are followup by the Content Editor. Again changing order affect immediatelly. There are several actions definable:

  • Panel -> Allows you to load a Control on the place of a ribbon by defining the type => class and assembly(Take a look at ‘/Chuncks/New/New’)
  • Small Button -> Allows you to place a small button with a small icon and some text to the right of the icon
  • Large Button -> Allows you to place a large button with a large icon and some text below the icon.
  • Large Gallery Button -> Look ‘n Feel like Large Button but after clicking no action happends, but a menu or edit screen appears.
  • Small Combo Button -> Look ‘n Feel like Small Button but after clicking a menu appears

Just a second back to the chunk. You can setup a click-event(like here on sorting: ).

Looking at the tree, we only missed the ‘Menus’ and ‘Contextuel Ribbons’ in the story above. About the menu’s, I do no have to explain that much: Small Combo Buttons reffers to an item in the Menus folder and show the children of it.

Last thing to discuss should be the Contextual Tabs. I definitelly want to, but don’t have the time to figure exactly out how they work. They don’t behave like I expected. But that might be funny as well.

For now: have a nice sleep or monday morning cup of coffee :). Cheers!

Note for Jakob: Check in those items! 90% of the core database is checked out to ‘sitecore\Admin’… πŸ˜› And, when you read this: shouldn’t the Small Combo Button be renamed to Small Gallery Button or the Large Gallery Button to Large Combo Button?

Installing VS2005 SP1: A bloody hell

Today my feedreader pointed me on the release of SP1 for Visual Studio 2005. Luckily, I wasn’t programming this morning, so had the change to update Visual studio. But, I have to say, the SP1 is a bloody hell. I’m not talking about the functionality, I’m talking about the installation!

Some facts:

  • Required: 2,5 Gb(!!!!!!) free space on your Windows Disk(proparly C)
  • An install file of 430 Mb…
  • You have to uninstall the Web Application Projects
  • Installation time on my machine: approx half an hour(Centrino 1,7 Ghz, 1 Gb RAM)

It has been crashing over 6 times because of diskspace, one time because it couldn’t find a file, one time ebcause of SQL Server 2005 was running(error message occurt until SQL Server was stopped).

Guess the best way to install:

  1. Buy a Rubic Cube
  2. Disable all services
  3. Close all your applications
  4. Remove all your mp3’s/webcasts/podcasts from your desktop πŸ˜‰
  5. Clean your MSN history(90Mb for me :P)
  6. Start the installation
  7. Drink as much coffee as possible
  8. Have lunch!
  9. Look if it isn’t crashed anyway πŸ˜‰

Friday… bloody service pack day πŸ˜›

By the way.. you can fidn your download-links to the ‘service’ pack here!

 

For the AJAX dudes: ScottGu anounces the RC1 for ASP.NET AJAX 1.0.

1 year of blogging

Last year 11 december, this blog, .Sitecore has started. Starting of with one of my most Sitecore critical post ever, and from that my name appeard in the community. Alexey Rusakov helped me a little by notifying his readers. After a short term of  just some blogging, not so many visitors and  less interesting topic, the big Sitecore public found me and from that moment, my feed came in several blogrolls.

Some statistics:

  • 112 posts in 1 year(that’s 0,3 post per day)
  • 88 comments in 1 year
  • Over 7.000(!) spamcomments, mostly blocked by Askimet
  • The posts were written in September: 16
  • Least posts were written 2 months before, July: 2
  • In November 2006, .Sitecore has nearly crossed the 1 gigabyte datatransfer line
  • Most viewed article is the article about Umbraco as it has been placed on the website of Umbraco πŸ˜‰
  • Google’s PageRank of .Sitecore is nowadays a magic 2 πŸ™‚
  • A customer, all the way from Spain, contacted the LECTRIC salesdepartment after reading my blog!

Actually, 1 year is just the beginning! I definitelly hope you guys stay with me the following years and I hope I’m able to write usefull posts on Sitecore, Content Management and .NET. It might not all be directly Sitecore related, but al least 75% of my posts will be related in a way, so don’t worry!

Some goals for 2007 / year 2 of .Sitecore:

  1. 2 Months of daily blogging
  2. Explain improvements on the 5.3 API
  3. Finish my preformance blog serie
  4. Finish my Design Documents blog serie
  5. Review more modules

That’s it for today folks! See you tomorrow!

Applying security settings using Sitecore

Yesterday, I had to set some security in the shell of one of our clients. As you don’t want to make it that difficult for yourself, I’ve got some practical hints:

  • Keep your security databases(scSecurity, scExtranet) clean by grouping users and roles in different folders(in 5.3, use the user defined folder and take advantage of the rename options!).
  • Split rights in several roles, for example: Editor-Workflow-Role, Editor-ItemAccess-Role, Editor-ApplicationAccess-Role, Publisher-Workflow-Role, Publisher-ItemAccess-Role, etc. Divide them again in folders. Upgradres of securtiy are now easily made.
  • Use a less security as possible. The more allows or disallows used how complex your model.
  • Write down how your security model works. It might be clear to you, and client-security-webmaster isn’t that genious as you are, sorry ;-)!
  • Do not take inheritance off unless necesarry, it will mess upm everything, I promise!
  • Tak advantage of the Access Viewer. In 5.3 it shows you why an item has those rights and it can even show the access of a role these days.
  • 5.3: Make sure you use the built-in roles as base-roles. The user definied(developer defined) roles should become an addition, not the base roles.

That’s everything for security…

 

For those who want to know: I passed my Microsoft exam(70-536) today :). I wasn’t fully happy with the score: 735, but I passed and that’s the most important. Up to the next 3! Actually, have already planned them: ASP.NET 2.0(70-528, February), Distributed Applications(70-529, March) and Windows Forms(70-526, May).

Microsoft Examination and some Christmas Lecture

I’m preparing myself, or actually, I have finished preparing myself for the  exam ‘Microsoft.NET Frame work 2.0 – Application Development Foundation’. It is always funny to see that most developers are using techniques but has been back to school for some proper preparation, most of the knowledge they’ve collected was done during some hands-on-task.

I’ll not say those guys are less professional or really less educated, but since I’ve started frequently reading on topic like CLR, ASP.NET, Generics and collections, Security, etc, my work has improved a lot. Also nowadays I do understand why some part of the .NET Framework are designed in an obvious other way. Most of this imformation helps me to provide better estimations for the creation or revision of complex and huge functionalities.
So to all you who are still doubting if they want to start: yes go for it! πŸ™‚ The level the exams are taken these days won’t disappoint you!

Somethign really different: With the dark ‘social’ Christmas days upcoming, you have to prepare yourself a bit. I’m quite happy both Channel 9 as Sun are helping us out:

Deployment strategies

Today, one of our self-developing customer, invited me to give them a helping hand on their environment and review their deployment strategy. Actually I was quite impressed by the way they are using their expertise to deploy Sitecore in a proper way. And it isn’t only Sitecore. Although just Sitecore itself is tough enough.
For example: It has dependencies to database servers. The webserver and cms-server might be splitted. With several config-files the development has become easier, but the change management did become more complex.

Anyway, the guys did a good job. Best practices I’ve seen back at their work:

  • Simplify by just numbering the steps that should be taken for a single server(For webserverXX take step 1, 3.2 and 4)
  • Provide as much screenshots as possible
  • Describe used modules independent of Sitecore

Tips I gave those guys:

  • When you write down full config-nodes, make sure your document will be shipped together with the module-files you are using. Also, write down the versionnumber.
  • Make sure the document contains links to the original installation guide(in case of you forget something) and notice the executor that the release notes of a product(both the cms as the module) can be changed.
  • Do not underestimate the installation of the modules. Several modules(for example the staging module) have very strict installation procedures, most of the time more complex then the cms’ itself’s.
  • Last but not least, provide a fallback scenario.

That’s it for today. It has been quite the past weeks because of tons of work and some days off…(Take a holiday in Spain ;), for a few days, I can recommend it!). From today, hope I’m able to do some daily blogging till the start of 2007.