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Sitefinity 12: Features Review, Part 1

Progress announced the latest release of its leading CMS – Sitefinity 12.0 that focuses on further improving the content management experience. MVC continues to be the targeted approach when creating new widgets and page templates, as for newly created projects you can use either MVC or hybrid MVC + Web Forms frameworks and templates. The Page management and the WYSIWYG content editor have also gone through some changes with view of improving the user experience and overall ease of use.

As an Elite Progress Partner, our team was privileged to be part of the closed beta testing group for Sitefinity 12 and validate its release. Thus, having had a look behind the scenes, our team shares what’s new and introduce you to our favorite feature improvements for increasing productivity.

Page UI Improvements 

Have you ever asked yourself “What are all those fields about and do I need to fill them?” when creating a page? Has the question “Why can’t I send a single page for sync after publishing it directly?” ever arisen? Was there a time when you accidentally moved the position of a page instead of selecting it? If the answer to one of these is yes, you should definitely be thinking about updating your Sitefinity.  

The latest version introduces a new and improved UI and UX for Page management which looks and feels much simpler and smoother. What’s more, the most recent update of the system features many improved ways to manage your content and bring the best possible result using the system. Below is the first official look from their release notes

managing pages

It is now much easier to navigate through the pages and the page lists, add filters and create a page in fewer steps. Some of the new or improved features include: 

  • Improved Page List user interface
  • New icons that better show the workflow state of the page
  • New Reordering functionality, moved away from the main page
  • Simplified Page creation process
  • Publish & Sync option for each page

creating a page

The page creation process has been streamlined by reducing the number of properties required to create a page. The old process required you to think about search engine optimization and many other advanced fields before you’ve even added any content. The new one only requires you to configure the properties that are necessary for creating a page. You can, of course, add, define, and modify page properties later in the menu.

Let’s look at the simplified process of creating a page step by step.

When you click on the “Create a page” button, you go to a form containing the basic properties your page requires to be created. 


type page name  

You must choose a page name, a custom URL or leave the default one, select where in the hierarchy the page should be (either on the top level or under a parent page or group), and then select the navigation options.

selet a template

When you continue, you are presented with a screen to select the template of your page. Choose one of the options and your page is ready.

You can now go ahead to add content, edit the title and properties just like in the old version or publish the page straight away.  The additional page properties can still be found in the “Title & properties” menu. 

sitefinity page properties 

In short, the latest version offers a remodeled view of the “Pages” tab which is now simpler and more streamlined in its functionalities. Using the latest design patterns for UI and UX, the dev team has managed to solve many bigger and smaller problems and provided us with better experience when creating a page - a possibility to sync a page directly from the menu and a new, more intuitive design when going through the page list. 

Rule-based Forms

Another intriguing update in the new version is connected to the way the forms are created and managed. Following the tendencies in dealing with Single-Page Application forms, Sitefinity 12 introduces a set of custom rules. Creating dynamic forms has never been so easy for content editors. Instead of dealing with code in the backend, users can take advantage of the user-friendly interface and set up a flow that best suits the form’s purpose.

An important prerequisite for proceeding is to make sure that the form is an MVC form. A similar view is displayed when attempting to create a new rule.

create a rule

There are various ways for the content editor to take control over the required flow when dealing with the different input fields.

The user can either choose whether ANY of the conditions should be met or ALL of them

Depending on the selected property, several checks can be performed. For example, the regular Textbox has the options “is”, “isn’t”, “contains”, “doesn’t contain”, “is filled”, “isn’t filled”. The plus button allows the content editor to add as many conditions as necessary.

The actions that will be performed when the previous conditions are met will be displayed under “THEN…” section. The possible scenarios are self-explanatory:

  • Show field
  • Hide field
  • Skip to step
  • Go to page after submitting
  • Show message after submitting

All the provided flexibility allows numerous combinations over the dynamic essence of the modern forms that the users are used to. When adding multiple rules for a single form, the last rules are with higher priority.

For example, an eCommerce website that requires more specific business logic when taking customer orders can easily take advantage of this new feature. Let’s say that the customer is taken to the Checkout page, confirming their payment details and delivery options.

delivery address

However, the billing address differs from the delivery address. So, upon clicking on the corresponding checkbox, the customer can fill the rest of the required information.

billing address 

This can be achieved by creating only a single rule, that should look like this:

single rule 

If the business requirements change and the client no longer wants to burden potential customers with too much information to fill, the billing address details can be moved to a new step, and then the rules can be adjusted to jump to that step:

rule two 

This is exactly the kind of control that we want to have over the whole process of data gathering, from the beginning to the end. The form rules functionality takes its place among the other Sitefinity features that target ease of use for content editing teams that are administrating a site’s backend.


 

Progress Sitefinity, one of the world’s most productive and usable Web Content Management (WCM), is now cloud-native and the only true WCM Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) on the market. Redefining productivity, Sitefinity empowers organizations to scale, eliminates the need for infrastructure management, and deeply integrates Microsoft Azure services allowing organizations to focus on their core business.  Learn how a Progress technology partner can help you make the most of it.

 

Daniel and Petar are among the Software Consultants at Accedia who took part in the closed beta testing for Sitefinity 12. They have profound experience in working with wide range of technologies and building enterprise solutions. 

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