Today Sitecore released the newest version – Sitecore 9.2. This version contains new features, some for content editors / marketers and others for developers. Here's the overview!
Improved integration between EXM and Forms
Sitecore is a great complete digital marketing platform. This means that marketers can create their own forms, marketing automation plans and email templates. However, with Sitecore Forms fully rebuild in Sitecore 9, in the first version there was no support to immediately send an email when the visitor fills in a form.
This has been added now as an out of the box action in Sitecore Forms, instead of having to implement this by a developer.
This new default send action for Forms will allow marketers to send personalized messages, triggered by form submission to both known and new contacts. These messages triggered by form submission will be able to use data from within the form itself, at point of submission due to enhanced support for custom tokens.
Your Sitecore Form can include an emailaddress field to send the email to, as well as a consent checkbox to configure the consent to receive marketing emails.
The new default “Send Email Campaign Message” can be configured in Sitecore Forms. The email template can be chosen, the form field to read out the emailaddress, the consent checkbox form field and form field values can be mapped to tokens to be used in the email message.
Experience Optimization is …. well, optimized
As you know, Sitecore is the best system to personalize your content on all channels using the ruleset available in the platform. Furthermore, multi variant testing can be configured as well.
For the multivariant tests there were already overview pages of which tests were running where. In Sitecore 9.2, new overview pages are available to monitor where active personalization rules are configured.
This new “Active personalized experiences list” lists an overview of all the personalized experiences that have been created on your sites. The list includes personalized experiences that have been tested and implemented, and personalized experiences that have been implemented without testing, as well as personalized experiences that are currently being tested.
Each row in the list represents one page with personalization. You can order and filter the list and you can search for a page by item name or display name. You can see how many components on a page have personalization rules applied to them, and the total number of experiences that can be created by combining the variations of the different components.
The Effect in test field displays the effect of the best experience compared to the default experience. If the personalization rules on the page were implemented without testing, then the Effect in test field is empty.
JSS: Compatible with SXA and Sitecore Forms!
One of the biggest announcements on SUGCON was that in Sitecore 9.2, JSS will be compatible with SXA.
This does not mean that the full toolbox will be available but when developing JSS sites you will be able to use all site management concepts of SXA: Site Tentants, Sites, Partial Designs, Page Designs, Shared and relative page relative data sources, cross site content sharing, cross-site presentation sharing with partial designs and page designs, component reusability across sites with tenant scoped components, cross site linking.
You will be able to create a JSS Tenant and JSS Sites, and the ability to configure which sites are shared:
Headless Sitecore Forms!
Sitecore 9.2 introduces support of Sitecore Forms with JSS! This means that all Sitecore Forms functionalities can be used and it will be rendered in your JSS app.
Improvements regarding xDB
Sitecore 9.2 does bring in several changes. Some of them maybe small but have a bigger overall impact.
Better robot detection
The robot detection functionality has been improved. This is important to filter out unwanted interactions from automated browsers and robots. And to keep your xDB statistics clean.
The device detection still relies on the 51Degrees device database.
Web Tracker Performance Improvements
The web tracker is responsible for tracking a contact’s activity on your website. It does this by storing information temporarily and when your visit on the website ends, send that data to xConnect.
Sitecore 9.2 improves on this by reducing the calls to xConnect which should lead to performance gains and the ability to handle more calls at a given moment.
It is now also possible to configure a dedicated server to process the session expiration, removing load from a Sitecore Content Delivery server. This should only be necessary on servers that can experience a high load.
Data Purging / Data Grooming
Some of our clients who have been using Sitecore for several years now have accumulated a lot of xDB data about the visitors. Before Sitecore 9.2 it was not easy to remove old data that isn’t relevant anymore. (Unless you are using a 3rd party integration)
A new API has been made available to maintain and purge data withing xDB. This can help to reduce the size of the xDB database and gives you more control on what data you want to keep.
It is possible to write a custom tool to periodically and automatically remove xDB data.
Other noteworthy improvements
Serialization is used to store Sitecore items from the database in text files on the file system. These items can then be used to synchronize between environments or between developers.
This was introduced a while back in Sitecore 6. Now a new format for the serialized files was added: YAML.
YAML serialization was already possible by using Rainbow together with Unicorn. Do note that Sitecore and Rainbow both use YAML files but the format of those files itself can and will be different.
In a next major release, the old serialization format will be deprecated and removed.
Publishing Service on Sitecore Host
More and more Sitecore services will be running on Sitecore Host in the future. Sitecore Host is the common platform for running services. It is pluggable, so easy to extend and
A Sitecore service is a piece of functionality or a feature that runs separately, outside of the main Sitecore CM or CD role.
Beside Sitecore Identity and the Universal Tracker which already use it, the Publishing Service now also joins the Sitecore Host family. This was an expected improvement.
SSL offloading support
A much requested feature from our clients is support for SSL offloading. This was already possible before Sitecore 9.2 but required changes several configuration files.
The fact that Sitecore now supports this OOTB is a welcomed change. This makes it easier for on-premise situations where load balancers are used to deal with SSL (HTTPS traffic).
A few years ago, every developer was using the Sitecore Instance Manager (or SIM) to manage Sitecore installations locally. The tool was made redundant when Sitecore provided a whole new way to install Sitecore. Make way for the Sitecore Installation Framework (or SIF).
SIF uses PowerShell to install Sitecore on your local (or remote) machine. While this works very good and is now better known in the Sitecore community on how to use it; the barrier for a setting up a new and clean Sitecore environment locally is big for newcomers to Sitecore or business people who want to try out a version locally. On top of that there was no visual UI to make the installation easier (something that 3rd party tools did circumvent).
A new Sitecore Install Assistant (SIA ?) with a nice UI, provides the solution for this and makes it easy to install Sitecore 9.2.
You do have to take several prerequisites into account!