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Sitecore 10.2 new features: What marketing and IT teams need to know

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The latest Sitecore release 10.2 is with us. Every Sitecore release is always exciting for true Sitecore nerds and 10.2 certainly delivers, bringing the usual range of improvements and new features that appeal to both developers and marketing teams. this reflects the investment that Sitecore continues to put into the platform. Last time we looked at the features on the 10.1 release. Here’s our review of the noteworthy new elements in Sitecore 10.2 that impact both marketing and development teams.

Headless support

Sitecore has been on a headless trajectory the past couple of years; this is continuing with the emergence of the “composable DXP” model that incorporates headless publishing by default. In the 10.2 release, Sitecore has extended the number of frameworks – React, Angular and Vue.js – which can be used by Sitecore in a headless set-up for front-end development. This again continues to extend the flexibility of your development resource and opens up the power of Sitecore to a wider group.

Sitecore Experience Edge

Improvements to Sitecore Experience Edge are perhaps the most significant element of the new release. Experience Edge provides what is essentially a way for caching your front-end content within Sitecore itself; this has the potential to accelerate your performance, while lowering costs as it can possibly replace a content delivery network (CDN) such as Cloudflare. What gives Experience Edge the “edge” over some other CDN solutions (see what I did there), is that it is specifically optimised for data-intensive elements, such as Sitecore personalisation, which you now no longer need to perform on your server. We think there’s a lot of potential for Experience Edge; we’ll cover what it means for marketing teams in more detail in a future blog post.

A boost for the Horizon Editor

Horizon is a new editing experience that may at some stage replace the Experience Editor. Horizon has been enhanced over the last couple of releases, although up to now we don’t think the capabilities have been extensive or deep enough for production use. However, we think the improvements appearing in 10.2 now mean the Horizon is a viable alternative for the Experience Editor. Key among these is a new “content explorer” that allows users to navigate their content tree, as well as search with additional features to find desired content without leaving the Horizon experience. You can now also use Horizon to edit headless sites; it also supports the SXA (Sitecore Accelerator) product, so also opens up the possibility of wider use.

Easier upgrades

The phrase “Sitecore upgrade” can still install fear across marketing and IT teams. Thankfully the costly and detailed upgrades are a thing of the past as Sitecore looks to create an easier upgrade path for all customers. The 10.2 release brings another small tweak to make upgrades easier. When you install a new version of Sitecore, there are changes which need to be made to both the web database and the master database, both of which include your content data. The new 10.2 release has removed some of the upgrade elements into a new database, which means that you can upgrade without touching your content data; this not only makes upgrades less risky, but also supports headless publishing environments and the composable DXP model.

Additionally, there is a new way to update versions of Sitecore that will help streamline the process for developers. The Update Centre within Sitecore has now been replaced by the Sitecore UpdateApp, updating the core, master and web databases of the Sitecore Experience Manager.

Changing the delimiter on Sitecore Forms

10.2 has introduced a small tweak with the ability to change the delimiter on Sitecore Forms. This small change might not sound very exciting, but previously exporting Sitecore Forms data into a CSV file was less straightforward than it should be. You can now change the delimiter to a comma and download CSV as you would rightly expect on a major platform like Sitecore.

New developer tools

10.2 brings a sprinkling of new developer tools and features to make the coder in your life happy. These include ways to make it easier to set up developer environments, set up search indexes and carry out deployments. There is also a way to serialise user and role data that makes it easier to publish that data over to a live environment. We could see this as being very useful if in your testing environment you had created new users and roles and you wanted to carry them over to production without having to painstakingly recreate them.

Enhancements to email marketing

Customers using Sitecore’s Email Experience Manager will welcome some changes to the Email Experience Manager. These include the ability to create your own dashboard as well as presenting more sorting options to view information about your email campaigns.

While we’re on the subject of emails, the 10.2 release also beings the ability to send emails from a dedicated despatch server, a move which will support a containerisation strategy if you’re going down that route.

Enhancements to Sitecore Experience Accelerator

Sitecore Experience Accelerator (SXA) gets a few welcome extras in this release that continue to enhance its value for customers. These include the ability to add close captions to embedded YouTube or Vimeo videos, support for Bootstrap 5.0 grids and as already mentioned above, the ability to use the Horizon Editor in the SXA.

Enhancements for Sitecore Analytics

Sitecore Analytics has also had a bit of love in the new release. You can now view the impact of personalisation on individual goals set within Sitecore, with analytics showing the number of individual goals that can actually be attributed to your personalisation efforts. This will be particularly useful for those teams starting out with Sitecore personalisation who want to identify or report on specific value, or test the impact of different personalisation efforts.

Additionally teams can now export any list report in Sitecore Analytics as a CSV file. Additionally, there are a number of improvements to list reporting within Analytics.

Azure Search use for Sitecore has been deprecated

The ability to use Azure search for Sitecore has now been deprecated, a passing that is unlikely to be widely mourned as there have been significant issues with performance and cost. Sitecore uses multiple indexes for searching, and costings for Azure search are impacted by the number of indexes in use, effectively pricing this out as a viable option.

And there’s more

What’s included in a Sitecore release is always detailed, and there are a number of other changes and improvements that will appeal to developers and admins, such as the ability for Sitecore Hosts to support .NET Core 3.1. Details of the other elements of interest to developers in 10.2 can be found on the Sitecore website.

Another comprehensive Sitecore release

Overall, Sitecore 10.2 is another comprehensive release with changes that will make an impact for both creators and coders, while also evolving newer features such as the Horizon Editor. Sitecore also continues to move forward on its headless and composable journey. If you have any questions about the upgrade or want to discuss what it means for your Sitecore instance, then get in touch!

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