Mark Everard

Hello, I'm Mark – a PhD physicist turned technologist / architect.

Archive for February, 2016

How exactly do you need to manage your content?

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Detailed content management requirements are often overlooked in the design and build of a content managed website. This can result in an implementation that lacks flexibility and incurs higher costs over its lifetime.

Dual purpose

Web Content Management (WCM/CMS) implementations deliver two key capabilities for an organisation:

  1. A website, perhaps with a new or updated design or brand.
  2. The ability to manage the website content via a content management system

To achieve the best implementation outcome, it is important start your project with design measures and KPI’s that focus on both the success of the website as a business tool, as well as the CMS that enables it. Too often the focus is on just the website, largely because of the difficulty in measuring how well your content management system works for your organisation.

Whether your CMS is effective is rarely immediately apparent, instead it will emerge over time through your content team’s ability to operate autonomously and a reduction in future development need and cost.

A CMS is for life, not just for launch

Even after a successful implementation, it is still easy to overlook your content management requirements. Marketing and campaign-led activity often have bespoke visual needs which can challenge your existing CMS design and content flexibility. They also often come with fixed deadlines and limited opportunity to fully assess the expected campaign content usage and lifespan.

The default position may be to ‘content manage all the things’, but do you really need to?

It is all to easy to build up technical debt within your implementation by designing bespoke types that are so specialised they offer little or no opportunity for reuse. This feature bloat not only increases the size of your code-base, making the landscape more complex for your technical teams. It also makes the system more complex for editorial teams as they have to navigate additional content types. If you have many content types in your CMS that are only used in a few places then you may already be suffering.

Don’t waste time (or money)

To keep on the right track, you should always have your content editing team as a key stakeholder in any website or CMS development. After all, they are the team that will be using any functionality and be responsible for publishing campaign content / functionality on your website through your CMS. It is only sensible that their feedback is taken onboard.

The basics of content reuse requirements aren’t that difficult.:

  1. I need to reuse this content and/or design in many places across the website
  2. I may reuse this content occasionally
  3. I am unlikely to reuse this content, but I need to be able to change it at short notice
  4. I shouldn’t need to change the content. If I do I am happy to rely on techincal support

The answers will drive very different technical solutions, ranging from fully reusable content managed features to a set of static pages to be thrown away after use. The middle ground here is also useful, which allows more technically minded CMS editors and admins to standup flat HTML pages through the CMS interface (an example for Episerver – http://tedgustaf.com/blog/2011/4/publishing-plain-html-pages-in-episerver/).

The difference in cost and implementation effort can be substantial.

Why spend money and valuable time building reusable content elements for a one-off campaign if you don’t really need to?

Written by mark

February 29th, 2016 at 11:00 am

Posted in C#,EPiServer,Opinion

London Episerver Developer Meetup Spring 2016

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Spring is on its way (think daffodils and lambs) and so is Episerver’s next Developer Meetup.

Zone have very kindly offered to host the meetup at their laid back offices in Kings Cross. And Episerver will be supplying the pizzas and beers – after all, it’s not a meetup without it.

We have a great line up, covering some exciting new features in Episerver and looking at what it coming too

Episerver Forms

In the Winter Release 2016, Episerver Forms were officially released! Finally, a replacement for XForms! Janaka (from Episerver) will talk through different form examples you can build, re-using them, and customized rendering for display channels, personalization, multi-language and permissions. As well as the new four elements added after Beta; Date time, Range, Rich text and URL.

Commerce Promotion engine

New UK EMVP, Jon Jones, will take us through the new promotions engine in Commerce.

ASP.NET Core 1

(AKA ASP.NET 5) There are big changes coming soon to the ASP.NET framework. We’ll be taken through some of the changes and how Episerver are redesigning the product to take advantage.

Sign up now!

As always, RSVP through our Meetup page, and please let me know if you’ve got any good ideas or want to contribute in any way. Remember, its your group!

 

 

 

Written by mark

February 15th, 2016 at 8:26 am

Posted in Community,EPiServer

RSS feeds for Episerver

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I’ve released a few further tweaks to my RSS / ATOM add-on for EpiserverCHIEF2MORO.SyndicationFeeds.

Whats new in version 3.0?

On request filtering

I’ve taken another look at filtering, which is a feature included from version 2. I’ve modified the inbuilt IFeedContentFilterer to allow Feed pages to filter items by category via querystring parameters. This has caused a breaking change (and helped me understand how abstractions can help stable API design).

The feature allows editors to set up single feeds and for those feeds to provide subsets of data by responding to Category names that are passed via a comma separated querystring value. e.g. www.mysite.com/feed?categories=Alloy,Blog,Technology.

The default FeedFilterer has also been modified so that a content item has to be a member of all categories (both querystring and editor set) to appear. Previously it had to be a member of just one category filter.

Editor set cache

Each feed page now includes a new property allowing an editor to cache the feed output for a given number of seconds. This is to help performance for those feed pages on sites with a large amount of content.

Validation

I made some minor amends to help the feeds to validate, and made sure I correctly understood the RSS / ATOM specification in respect of LastUpdated and Publish dates

It’s on Nuget

The source code is available at https://github.com/markeverard/Chief2moro.SyndicationFeeds.

A package (currently v3.0.0.0) is available in the Episerver Nuget Feed – http://nuget.episerver.com/ – search for CHIEF2MORO.SyndicationFeeds

Written by mark

February 3rd, 2016 at 10:00 am

Posted in ASP.NET,C#,EPiServer