Episerver Ascend offers something for everyone. As an Episerver Developer and EMVP (Episerver Most-Valued Professional), I took advantage of product update/roadmap presentations and developer-focused workshops. Want to know what developers should get excited about? Here is a recap of 3 developer-driven details from my time at Ascend.
1. Digital Experience Cloud
For those who are not familiar, the Digital Experience Cloud (“DXC”) is Episerver’s managed cloud hosting offering. From the beginning, it has always been a fantastic product for Episerver customers who were in need of a scalable, reliable, and straightforward hosting option for their web solutions. Episerver folks at the conference used the term “white glove service” a lot when talking about DXC, and I think that it is a very appropriate description. From the start, DXC has been excellent for those who do not want to worry about the nitty-gritty of deployments and release management, but for developers who are used to having full control over the release pipeline, it’s a major roadblock. When you are used to having the world, it is frustrating to be told you have to play within a box.
The good news is that Episerver has been listening to the developer community and is adamant about putting the power of DXC into the developer’s hands (great for control freaks like me)! At Ascend 2019, Episerver announced the (beta) release of the DXC Deployment API, a framework allowing developers to directly integrate with a customers’ pre-existing CI/CD pipelines in order to deploy to any DXC environment. This is a huge step forward for developers, as deployed through the DXC self-service portal could be time consuming and for certain projects, a linear deployment stream does not make sense. With the Deployment API, code deployments to DXC should be faster and more frequent than ever before.
I am also very excited for the DXC roadmap, with features such as self-service Web App restarts, additional telemetry/statistics, and “Smooth Deployments” coming down the pipeline. I look forward to exploring these new features with my DXC clients in the upcoming year.
2. Customer Service Application
Perhaps the biggest cheer I heard at Ascend this year was when VP of Product Management David Bowen announced the final nail in the coffin for Episerver Commerce Manager is within sight. For those of you who do not know, Commerce Manager is a ride-along website that is installed with an Episerver Commerce implementation and controls order management, customer management, promotions, cart administration, and more. It is a remnant of the old Mediachase commerce product that Episerver acquired and incorporated into their suite in 2012. It has lingered as part of the ecosystem due to necessity as features were slowly (but surely) improved and rolled into the core Episerver platform.
At this point, I find it outdated, difficult to maintain, and downright clunky, which is why there is so much excitement in the community about it finally going away! To finally say goodbye, there is one missing piece, the Customer Service Application (“CSR”) for Episerver Commerce, and it’s currently in beta. The CSR is a fully modernized set of features to let customer service staff handle order administration requests, such as manually placing orders on behalf of customers or adjusting carts. I had the chance to test drive it at Ascend and found the UI to be sleek and the features easy to use, especially when compared to their equivalents in Commerce Manager. I think that all the Episerver Commerce customers out there are really going to love it.
Interested in giving CSR a spin? You can find more information about Episerver beta initiatives here.
Probably the most talked-about feature from a developer standpoint at the conference was the official release of Foundation, the new “starter project” for the Episerver platform. Taking what worked best from the old Alloy demo site and removing the things that didn’t, Foundation is the new standard for developers looking for a reference project when building an Episerver website. I’ve had a few weeks to let this new demo project sink in and am increasingly excited. My three favorite aspects (so far):
- Modularity. The solution is split up into multiple projects, each with very well named subdirectories and filenames. This makes finding a specific piece of functionality very easy, especially when you need a quick reference for how to do something in a pinch.
- Examples included for most Episerver products. Foundation extends beyond just a simple CMS and Commerce demo site. It also includes example implementations for other Episerver products, such as Campaign and Personalization. This is great for those of us who want to get more familiar with the products prior to implementing them for our clients.
- Open Source, Community-Driven. The solution is hosted on GitHub and from what I heard at the conference, Episerver is going to invest resources to make sure the project is well-maintained and supported. Perhaps my favorite aspect of this is that developers in the community will be able to contribute to Foundation, which will allow us all to learn best practices and ideas from one another in a single place.
Foundation is a great place to start if you are a new developer to Episerver and want to get a feel for all the different things the platform can do. I am personally excited to watch it grow and evolve as the community starts to sink their teeth into it.
I hope my top 3 buzzworthy developer details are as exciting to you as they are to me and all the Adage devs. Episerver has a reputation for listening to customers, partners, developers, and end-users to drive improvements. Experiencing this and being a part of the EMVP community makes for a bright future.
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