During a recent project, the client had the need to upgrade their Tridion Systems to 2013 SP1, and upgrade their existing SiteEdit implementations to use the new Experience Manager (XPM). In this post I will briefly describe my first thoughts on the product and it’s implementation implications.
XPM mainly provides functionality to update content on pages while reviewing them on the staging platform, it is replacing SiteEdit. XPM works with the same HTML comments in the output that we were used to with SiteEdit 1 and 2. Therefore, existing SiteEdit implementations will work as is, as long as a new bootstrap.js script is included in the Page Templates. We have now vbScript Templates with SiteEdit 1.3 code successfully running on SDL Tridion 2013 SP1 with legacy pack.
SiteEdit 1 performed its magic using a js/html application in the CDE, which worked without need of an application server. SiteEdit 2 provided an IIS proxy website, that added the editing application to the existing staging website. XPM however has a completely different architecture, which may make it the most complex SDL Tridion product so far: it consists of an Editor in the CMS, a webservice (with data store) and the addition of the ambient framework to your CDE implementation. This means that in order to have a fully functioning XPM implementation (including “Session Preview”), your CDE should run on an application server. A typical Tridion infrastructure will now contain an XPM database and webservice. The webservice may run on the CDE or CME, as long as the CMS can reach it.
By far the best new feature of XPM, and the driving force behind its new architecture, is “Session Preview”, which will basically allow you to modify content of a Page in XPM, and see the content updated on the staging website without the need to republish it from the CMS. This will really have an impact on the number of items in the publish queue, and improve the usability of your Tridion implementation. One other noticeable new feature is that the user is warned when trying to modify content that is in use on other (staging) websites. Use of XPM and its features is now manageable from the CMS GUI, which greatly improves the implementation of Inline Editing: No “SiteEdit” HTML comments are written out when the publication target (and/or content schema) does not allow it. (this without the need to write code to check for preview, target etc)
I really liked to see the XPM GUI at work, it is quite responsive and intuitive. I experienced some issues while using it with IE 11, it performed really well with Chrome.
Installing and configuring XPM can be somewhat complicated. I would recommend these online sources (in this order):
- watch the video “Quick Guide to installing Experience Manager (Session Preview)”, hidden in the 2013 section of the live documentation: https://sdl.ssl.cdn.sdlmedia.com/web/634995501191539837YA.mp4
- Read the “Quick Guide to installing Experience Manager (Session Preview)”
- Read the install guides
- Creating the Experience Manager database
- Installing the Experience Manager Web service as a .NET Web application
or Installing the Experience Manager Web service as a Java Web application
- Adding the Experience Manager Web site extension to a .NET Web site
or Adding the Experience Manager Web site extension to a JSP Web site