Reflections on SUGCON 2017
It’s been a week since I’ve come back from SUGCON 2017 and I’ve finally had time to cover some of the key things I got from this years conference. This year the 2 day conference was in the beautiful city of Amsterdam and was even more packed than last year!
The conference kicked off in an unusual way. Normally we have a roadmap that sets the scene. This time Lars fløe Nielsen, along with some “retired MVPs”, showed us how Sitecore could be integrated with emerging technologies.
Lars became the guinea pig for augmented reality and Alexa voice integration as Pieter Brinkman impressed the audience.
Next, came Bas Lijten and Rob Habraken’s talk “A Futuristic showcase of the omni-channel capabilities of Sitecore XP”.
Armed with their Sitecore robot, Robbie, the demo again show cased some new offerings from Microsoft Cognitive Services, most notably facial recognition using Face API and how this could used with Sitecore personalisation to react to different people and their facial expressions.
Then came the breakout sessions with more of an in depth look at Microsoft Cognitive Services. From Mark Stiles’s session on Integration with Microsoft Cognitive Services to Robbert Hock’s and Alex Van Wolferen’s session on the Microsoft Bot Framework.
All in all the demo’s were pretty cool in terms of ideas, however there were no hints of whether these technologies would be utilised in the platform in the future. They served more as example of how you can integrate some cool stuff in to Sitecore. Though I definitely get the sense that Sitecore is going to be easier to integrate with in the future.
SXA featured in a few talks on day 1 of the conference. I only got to go to one of the talks by Jason Wilkerson where we were shown how SXA can be used to speed up the process of building your site.
We were shown some impressive drag drop and wire framing capabilities and the creative exchange import and export facility.
I can see how this concept would appeal to content editors and user experience experts during a Sitecore build. But whether this would suit backend and front developers is another thing. The idea of being restricted to a grid system and set content architecture may be a turn-off for some.
Helix, Sitcore’s recommended practices, seemed to be everywhere at the conference and it’s definitely something that Sitecore have fully taken on board.
Sitecore have even said that all Sitecore modules will now conform to Helix conventions and they’ve made a start on this by making the new version of SXA compliant.
I went to the “Sitecore Helix Fast Track talk” where Anders Laub explained the different conventions and how they have their basis in SOLID principles. He went on to explain how you should structure your solutions and content architecture so that they only have one reason to change.
As a follow on from this I then attended the session on “Tooling for Helix” by Emil Klein where we were shown how you can use the Yeoman framework to quickly create Helix structured solutions - more info on this here.
Although I was initially sceptical about Helix being too restrictive, I can really see the benefits of it and it makes sense that all developers are using the same standards.
PaaS was very much on the agenda at the conference. I went to the session “Sitecore on Azure PAAS”, which was mostly presented by Christof Claessens, an employee of Microsoft rather than Sitecore.
Christof explained how Microsoft and Sitecore have been working together to create ARM Templates for provisioning Sitecore on Azure and the various options you have with this. There was also a look a the Sitecore Cloud Roadmap, which includes ARM templates for EXM and eCommere and using Containers.
Sitecore’s cloud offering is in it’s infancy at the moment but I think over the next 6 months Micrsoft and Sitecore could really revolutionise Sitecore in the cloud.
All in all a great conference with lots of exciting things happening: emerging technologies integrated, standards adopted, cloud maturing and Sitecore’s relationship with Microsoft getting even closer.
For me the conference contained glimpses of where Sitecore is headed, for anything more concrete I guess we’ll have to wait for the Symposium. See you there!