Kentico 12 - Launch Report
December 11, 2018
Kentico 12 is bringing some of the biggest changes to the content management system space in years focused on MVC-first approach. Below is a summary of the “Kentico 12 Launch Webinar” where we focus on the major points for the same. Join Karol Jarkovsky, VP Product, and the rest of the product management team as they give an in-depth look at all the features of Kentico 12, what the MVC-first approach means for your business, and what the future development of the Kentico platform will bring.
Hosts from Team Kentico:-
● Karol Jarkovsky, VP, Product
● David Komarek, Product Owner, Content Management & Online Marketing
● Michal Kadak, Product Owner, Platform & E-commerce
● In 2006, Kentico Team released the “portal engine” and at that time it was one of the few CMS systems that provided a browser-based page builder capability built on “Web-forms” technology and that was huge because it enabled the rapid website development process.
● In 2010, Kentico brought the content management together with the customer experience management capabilities.
● In 2017, Kentico Software released “Kentico 11” and one of the key themes in Kentico 11 was support for new data privacy legislation like GDPR, and the most recent addition of California's Consumer Privacy Act. Many analysts, customers and partners call this the most advanced support for data privacy legislation in the industry.
● In 2018, Kentico 12 is launched and as you will see throughout this article, we believe that Kentico 12 is just as important as some of these previous versions and redefines the overall framework of the web development process.
Kentico 12 – Focus Areas
Kentico 12 address a set of the problems that relate to very core of the proposition that a digital experience platform provides, specifically
● Empowering Marketers and Developers
● A Great Editing Experience for Practitioners
● The Development & Underlying Technology
Seeing the way that marketers and developers work together on the same platform side-by-side, it's all about providing marketers or business practitioners with a modern and lightweight editing environment that allows them to complete those most common tasks or actions faster than ever, without dependence on the IT team. On the other hand, it empowers developers with a robust and scalable platform that is built on modern technologies that provides them with efficient and scalable architecture for their projects.
What's New in Kentico 12?
With Kentico 12 comes a new way to work with your sites, by incorporating and enhancing
● Visual Page Builder
● Smart Forms
● ASP.NET MVC 5 support
● .NET Standard 2.0
When it comes to Kentico 12, the area of enhancements for business practitioners definitely include the MVC based drag-and-drop visual page builder as well as the new form builder with smart forms capabilities. With the enhanced personalization capabilities, marketers should be able to craft and create personalized customer experiences much faster and much easier.
Web Forms Are DEAD!!
As Michal Kadak said in Kentico connections 18, “web forms are dead technology. This is primarily because last year Microsoft tried to basically cut off this functionality from the new dotnet core, but it didn't work out well because a lot of developers were against this decision, so Microsoft basically changed their mind”. Funny enough, one week after Kentico Connections they did it again so ASP.NET core 3.0 is now super official, adds Michal.
Web forms are going to die and if they are not dead, they are going to die very soon so you should move to MVC with and that's the reason why Kentico have the MVC first initiative.
The KISS Principle (keep it simple)
Kentico is keeping everything simple so the marketer (who is a non-tech persona) can use it without the need of a tutorial or a developer. That's the core moto right now with the new MVC approach.
The MVC-First Initiative
Let’s see what Kentico’s MVC-First Initiative is about.
Visual Page Builder
Probably the biggest thing that everybody was waiting for and the thing that people also talked about the most is the visual page builder which is available for the Kentico 12 MVC development model. Note that the visual page builder is not available for the old “portal engine” and only works with MVC.
Let’s take a look at the new and refreshed Kentico Dashboard.
Here, we will be focusing on the pages section because that is where the page builder is located.
On the included sample website, Dancing Goats, you can see the page builder implementation in action, because these are the samples where marketers wanted to get a little bit more freedom as compared to the structured way of modeling content which is more suitable for, articles or products.
You can see it on the page tab, Kentico have kept the concept of widgets that they had previously for the “portal-engine”. Widgets are for the marketers and these are basically the components that marketers can use to build out a landing page, for instance.
What you can see in the above image is the blue plus button which enables you to insert widgets anywhere you like. The selection of the widgets seen here are some of the sample widgets that Kentico have developed for the purpose the MVC demo site. If you clicked on a different place, there may be different widgets displayed because developers can specify restrictions as per need.
So, this was the basic concept of the page builder. Let’s first talk about the benefits of page builder and then we'll cover some of the features that are hidden.
Benefits of Visual Page Builder
Empowering Marketing Teams
- One of the biggest benefits ever is that page builder itself is empowering marketing teams. You no longer need to go to a developer or agency just for a slight change on your MVC site.
- Basically, as a marketer, if you start using the Kentico 12 MVC development model, you can do most of the enhancements on your own like adding new banners, image galleries, forms and so on.
Fast and flexible page building using Drag & Drop
- One of the critical features that Kentico was asked to implement is the support for drag and drop functionality.
- Within the page builder, all the widgets and sections support drag and drop. Hence, you do not need to click on some hidden arrows or go to the structured content area and reorder something in there, everything can be done directly in the page builder interface itself.
MVC Widgets as reusable components across the website
- One of the concepts that you need to remember is obviously the MVC widgets. These are the components that you will use within page builder.
- The main benefit for these is that you can create a library of components that you can reuse across the whole website but not only within a single website but maybe also across different projects as well.
Multiple Editable areas per page with Widget restrictions
● We have already mentioned the benefit of having widget restrictions that are available per page or editable area.
Developed with front-end frameworks in mind
- One of the notable things about page builder is that Kentico tried not to limit any front-end frameworks.
- So, if you are used to bootstrap or foundation or anything like that, be assured that the page builder was developed with these front-end frameworks in mind.
Produces clean HTML output as coded by developers
- Kentico is not generating any extra code that would ruin your hard work that you invested in developing the front-end, so that's one of the benefits.
- Because Kentico is now MVC based, it tries not to output anything else other than what developers coded. As a result, the HTML is much cleaner than it used to be with web forms and portal engine.
Now let's talk about one of the sub features for MVC known as sections.
Look at the short animation below. You can see that by clicking the black button you can add new sections to a page, so you are no longer limited to development changes if you want to adjust the layout of your page.
Marketers can create pages with multi-column layouts on their own, so you do not require pre-configured templates that are rigid and restrict marketers to a certain layout.
Just like the widgets sections support dragging and dropping, similarly you can drag and drop a whole section (with all the widgets that are placed inside) and you can move it to a different place on your page. If you change your mind and would like to switch from three columns to single column layout, this is possible.
One of the other features that is hidden inside the page builder is inline editors.
Inline editors are a brand-new concept that is introduced with Kentico 12 MVC and the page builder. They are meant to simplify and streamline the process of adjusting widget content and configuring widgets on the page.
Look at the below animation --- here you can see that dragging and dropping an image to a widget is applied as a background. Then you can copy and paste some text that you want. You can see that it's already pre-styled so you can keep the same visual look and feel across the whole website and also populate the text of the button, change colors, etc.
The key part of inline editors is that unlike in a portal engine, it's not limited to just a simple text or images widgets, but you can do anything starting with media-library widgets up to forum-selection widgets and, maybe displaying lists with controllable number of displayed articles and so on.
Content personalization is available for Portal-engine as well, but the concept is slightly different with MVC.
Take a look at the short animation below --- first click on the personalize button. Then select the criteria or a condition type to define a persona. You would want to create a new variant for a specific persona. If I choose Tony, I specify the variant name and once I click on the Save button the variant for Tony will automatically be created. Now I can adjust the variant for Tony, and I can display a blue background for Tony. If I like I can create as many variants as I want, and I can then easily switch between them just by clicking the personalize button again.
One thing about personalization is that it was available in previous version of Kentico MVC, however it was code level only so developers had to code the personalization. Now, Kentico has optimized the interface so it's now available for marketers as well. It's very simple and easy to use for beginners and it's quite powerful for advanced users as well.
MVC Form Builder
We’re going to skip a lot of things because we have just used the page builder within the form builder so basically it works the same way. So, if you know how to work or how to create pages with page builder, you should also master form building.
Below is the new version of the form builder. It looks better and you can see that in the center, our area is basically the page builder. You can see the sections, you can see all these pop-ups or all these plus buttons, and it is the same thing as you know from the page builder.
The interesting thing is that we have this right panel with all these properties validations and visibility tabs and all the things that you can create, set or configure for the form or the form components. There are a lot of out-of-the-box functionality when it comes to the form components, however you can always create a custom one. So, if you want a custom form component, a custom validation rule or a custom visibility rule, you can create one with ease.
Additionally, to do the normal behavior of creating a form, we have smart forms.
You know that if you have more than five fields in your form you will lose some visitors and they are not going to fill in the answers because the form is just too long. Smart forms are going to solve this issue for you with few clicks.
Every time a customer or a visitor will hit your form, the system will ask the question that we don't know the answer yet and it's up to you if you want to display one question at a time or two or three or more. It doesn't matter if your form has eight fields or 100 because every time the visitor will visit your site and if there is this form, the system will automatically ask the first question that was not answered and with this approach you can really gather the data during the time even though the form have 100 or 1,000 questions 1000 fields.
There are also smaller features that comes with the Kentico 12, like
Kentico have created a completely new business API for e-commerce which means that we are going to maintain this API without breaking changes. So, every time you are going to use e-commerce API for your MVC projects or a different third-party service integration , this API should be still working without breaking changes.
MaxMind GeoIP 2
Another cool thing with Kentico 12 is that it has the “GeoIP 2” from maxmind supported. Maxmind have recently changed their policy -- they now have a new format of their database for the geo location -- and Kentico 12 supports it.
New and Improved Kentico 12 Installer
The new installer is powerful because with this installer you can install the MVC project. So, you don't have to create all the things by yourself or perform these manual steps because the installer will do all heavy lifting for you. All you need to do is start the installer and select that your development model is MVC and the installer is going to create all the applications and configurations for you.
Another new think about the installer is that if you already have changed Kentico 12 installed with for multiple MVC sites, you can install another additional MVC application into an existing administration interface into an existing model.
So, this was a brief of the Kentico 12 Launch Webinar. If you want to go through the whole webinar, you can do so below.