Kentico Xperience 13 is out some time now. Perhaps you have already taken the steps to upgrade your existing MVC websites or you are still exploring the possibilities. In many cases it feels like a logical step to keep software updated to the latest version. But does everyone agree? It takes time and costs money to properly perform an upgrade. And what benefits does it ultimately bring us? In this article I cover 13 reasons, for business users and developers, to consider upgrading to Kentico Xperience 13.
Keeping up with software updates ensures customers to stay supported. This can be in the form of hotfixes, security updates or simply to be able to send a question by e-mail and receive a decent answer. Staying up to date also allows customers to be able to take advantage of innovations in the latest product versions.
In all the years that I have worked with Kentico, the knowledgeable support desk has surprised me time and again with their insightful answers. I recommend keeping up to date with the current versions to minimize security risks and to continue to benefit from high quality services.
The marketing automation module has received a welcome update in Kentico Xperience 13. Within the marketing workflow, the steps can be configured without losing track of the rest of the steps. Auto-save is of course indispensable. Furthermore, sticky notes can be placed next to the workflow steps to provide necessary feedback.
In addition to the cosmetic changes, improvements have been made with the aim of making a marketer's job more efficient. For example, workflow steps can be easily copied for reuse and the entire workflow can be saved as a template. Kentico Xperience 13 also introduces a time-based trigger to determine exactly at what time the workflow should be activated. Finally, the complete journey of the visitor is visually displayed in reports.
In a nutshell, this functionality makes it possible to automatically generate URLs for pages in the content tree. These pages can then be displayed within MVC without dealing with the technical part of knotting routes to controllers.
The content tree-based routing functionality can be activated via a setting. This ensures that existing custom implementations of routing continue to be supported when upgrading to Kentico Xperience 13. On top of that new Page Type features have been introduced to enable URL's for pages:
Additional benefits of content tree-based routing include:
- Settings to control the URL's format and behavior
- Former URL's can be stored when moving content
- Handle redirects for alternative and former URL's
- Page permissions are automatically reflected on the live site
Linked items are back in Kentico Xperience. Product management has listened carefully to the community and added functionality to the platform to create a content item in multiple places in the content tree. This can be used to for example build a page taxonomy within the content tree.
I always get very excited when I get to work with new technology. Kentico sparks my excitement by offering .NET Core support. With Kentico Xperience 13 it becomes possible for developers to build a ASP.NET MVC Core application with Kentico Xperience as the underlying engine. Developers can now leverage features such as Feature folders, Tag Helpers and Docker to name a few.
Coming from previous Kentico Xperience versions a migration from MVC 5 to MVC Core can be considered. Please note that this is not a simple migration and a rebuild may be a better alternative. Also note that .NET Core support of the CMS will follow later with Kentico Xperience: Odyssey.
The Page Builder provides editors and marketers a powerful drag-and-drop solution to visually compose pages. With Kentico Xperience 13 the existing component set is expanded. It includes a rich text widget:
With Kentico Xperience 13 we say goodbye to the Portal Engine, Kentico's development framework that I grew up with.
Now you might question if this a great reason to upgrade. As mentioned earlier I recommend staying up to date and embrace current development technology stacks such as .NET Core. On the other hand, it means that a major clean-up has taken place and that outdated functionality has been removed. When working in the CMS this becomes noticeable because screen loading times seem faster.
With last year's Kentico Xperience rebrand it is very welcome to see the new logo and names reflected in the CMS application. It helps me to recognize in which Kentico Xperience version I am currently working. It also visually confirms to me that the CMS application is up-to-date.
Product updates can inspire to come up with fresh new ideas. These ideas then transform into downloadable packages that can be installed from the Kentico Xperience marketplace. Examples of new community produced modules are:
- Brian McKeiver and his team at BizStream created the Toolkit for Kentico
- Mike Wills published a Staging configuration module
- Sean G. Wright created a handy Query debugger console application
- Trevor Fayas built a module that reminds me of web part containers in Portal Engine called Page Builder Containers
Imagine that you have a landing page with a number of content widgets such as title and text. Until recently, the content of these widgets were not included in the search indexes. With Kentico Xperience 13 there is a new Page Crawler search index that adds widget content to the search index.
With every Kentico Xperience release I directly dig into the release notes. This is the place where you can find about API changes that are not directly visible, but can increase the ease of development. An excellent example of this is the new
IPageRetriever that makes it easier to load and work with page data on the live site.
Topics such as caching, asynchronous programming and dependency injection are just a few examples where Kentico has recently published extensive articles on:
- Asynchronous API in (Multi)DocumentQuery and ObjectQuery
- Document and ObjectQuery enumeration without DataSets
- InfoProviders injectable as dependencies and asynchronous Get methods
- Task-based caching in Xperience 13
Kentico Xperience expands on it's integration support by providing a native integration with Zapier. The Zapier module can be installed via a NuGet package and uses webhooks to create objects or pages in Kentico Xperience.
It is also possible to trigger Zaps via custom workflow and marketing actions. Zapier retrieves the data via the built-in REST service.
The Kentico Xperience team recently announced their plans to shorten the release cycles and deliver product updates on a quarterly basis. These so called
refreshes contain technical as well as business related improvements and can be closely followed via Productboard.
This new approach potentially reduces the complexity of the upgrade procedure. The release will be much smaller and will therefor most likely require less API changes compared to a major release once a year. In terms of work, it will be similar to applying a hotfix.
In this article, I covered 13 great reasons to consider an upgrade to Kentico Xperience 13. But once you have decided to upgrade, where do you start? Anyone who has experience with upgrades in the past knows that there are many aspects that come into play. I therefor recommend reading the Kentico Xperience documentation carefully as it covers the upgrade procedure in great detail.