33 developer breakout sessions, multiple Keynote speeches featuring experts and thought leaders, seeing Mark Hamill in-person, participating in a beer crawl and partying at OMNIA nightclub with 2,900 other attendees – in summary, Sitecore Symposium 2017 at the Mirage in Las Vegas was a jam-packed event.
- The installation process is now completely different. The days of a simple exe installer are gone. You now need to use the Sitecore Install Framework (SIF) to set up a new project. This framework is essentially a configurable PowerShell-based app that installs, configures and deploys a single instance of Sitecore.
- SQL is back… and it is here to stay. MongoDB is no longer a requirement, so you can deploy your Sitecore project to a Microsoft-only platform and host the entire instance in Azure.
- XConnect has been released - a new service layer that sits in between the Experience Database (xDb) and any trusted client (including third-party apps) that needs to interact with xDb data in some way. Sitecore has done a good job documenting XConnect architecture and APIs to help developers get up-to-speed faster.
- Sitecore has completely rebuilt its Forms module – it is now known as Experience Forms Module. It includes a completely redesigned UI with ability to create form templates for reusability and multi-page forms. Still, the Web Form for Marketers Module is not dead yet (it’s still supported in Sitecore 9.) However, if you are considering an upgrade, you would need to rebuild any forms from scratch. The support for WFFM would be dropped in 9.1 release and there is no migration tool available to transfer content.
- Sitecore added support for Dynamic Placeholders, allowing reuse of the same placeholder key in multiple places on each page. This was one of the most requested features from developers.
- Sitecore has completely revamped its approach to configurations. Configuration is now rules-based. Each configuration setting can now have a specific server role, allowing developers to keep the same configuration files across servers and to ensure only server-specific settings would be applied after every deployment. Sitecore also added additional patch folders for clear separation between custom patch files and default Sitecore configurations.
- Federated Authentication has been updated – Sitecore 9 added support for OWIN authentication middleware, enabling users to login via standard authentication providers, including Microsoft accounts, Google, Facebook and Twitter!
- While the UI for Experience Editor remained unchanged, Sitecore made significant performance updates to ensure better and faster developing and editing experience.
Sitecore 9 release notes contain the full list of bug fixes, new features and improvements, make sure to check it out!