Kentico 12 Service Pack Preview

The road from Portal Engine to MVC is no doubt a daunting one, with a lot of work left to be done, but the great developers at Kentico have been hard at work to slowly bridge that gap.  Let's go over some of the features they brought through and my thoughts.

New Selectors

One of the bigger items that was hard moving from Portal Engine to MVC was in many ways, it was going from large out-of-the-box functionality to in essence, none.  Page Builder Widgets were relatively easy to create, but the getting the properties to the Widgets was limited.  You had no inline-editors except a couple examples given in the Dancing Goat example site, and you had the following form components for the widget dialog:

  • Email / USPhone
  • Int Input Component
  • Text Input Component / Text Area Input
  • DropDown Component
  • CheckBox Component
  • Radio Button Component

There are a few others mainly around the Online Forms, but these are primarily it.

The service pack introduces these new Controls...

Page Selector / Path Selector

These selectors are pretty similar.  Both allow you to navigate the Content tree and select a node from the tree.  The Page Selector returns the Node GUID, the Path Selector returns the NodeAliasPath.  This is useful for selecting an item to 'transform' similar to how you would with a repeater-based widget.

Select your Page or Path using the Page Selector

Media Selector

The other big item was the Media Selector.  This allows you to upload to and select from your media library.  You can configure it to take multiple files, limit the file types, etc.  Only limitation currently is you can't edit the images, to do that you need to log into the actual Kentico admin to crop, resize.  This functionality will get there eventually, but is (as you may imagine) harder to pull off and would require the entire media editor be rebuilt in MVC.

Select from the Media Library

Alternative URLs

Similar to 301 redirects, Kentico has added "Alternative URLs" with the service pack.  This allows you to define new aliases for your pages.  It's a little different from Url Aliases in that they do not have a culture, but are instead linked to the document instead of node (so you can switch the culture and add different Alternative URLs) and they do not currently support wildcards.  They also do not allow that Url to be 'used' as the page itself, but simply redirects the user to the proper path.  They are not automatically created when you move a page as well yet, so be sure if you move a page, add in the old location!

Set Alternative Urls that will redirect to your page

Page [Builder] Templates

Although called Page Templates, this new feature is really Page Builder Templates, in that it allows you to create a snapshot of your Sections and Widgets on a page and save that.  Then when you create a new page, you can select your snapshot ("Page Template") to pre-populate the page.  Currently you cannot edit Page Templates, nor even if you could would changes affect other pages using that template.  Still, it is a very nice tool and can help with more complex page layouts.

Save Section and Widget configuration and start a new page from it

We are in the works of implementing an actual Page Template system which when it comes closer to fruition, I'll blog about it and add it to the Boilerplate.

A/B Testing

The last thing is A/B Testing.  Similar to "Personas" this allows you to create an alternative widget setup / configuration for a given page, and tracks conversions on the people who visit one variation vs. the Other.  You can even select a winner to make it the actual page afterwards.

Change Widget layouts with AB testing and see results

Not Finished Yet

These tools are not complete yet so their functionality may change and increase before the actual release of the service pack.  My hopes are that the Path Selector also has the ability to manually type in a URL (or email/tel) at some point as well so it is more like the Url selector form control, and the Alternative Urls will do more than just redirect but allow you to actually use that URL as the page's alias.  Note that you look at my Dynamic Routing article to get an idea of how you could possibly implement your own Url Alias that does not need to redirect.

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