Should I Upgrade My Sitefinity Website?

Should I Upgrade My Sitefinity Website?

November 26, 2019 0 Comments
Why Upgrade Your CMS

For developers or site administrators, upgrading to the latest version of Sitefinity CMS unlocks a myriad of enhancements to boost productivity, flexibility and extensibility.

Sitefinity CMS is a stable, powerful, and easy to use CMS. It just works! For you, the developer, this may be one of the reasons why you might have never considered upgrading. Don’t fix it if it isn’t broken, some say. The most recent releases pack multiple enhancements that might tip the scales.

Upgrading to the latest version is a great way to gain access to a myriad of new features. It is also an opportunity to look under the hood of your website, tweak the design, and optimize the code for even better performance.

We have updated Sitefinity to deliver improved productivity, performance and security to help you craft better digital experiences for your customers.

Read below for a rundown of some of the benefits of upgrading, new capabilities, and features you may be missing.

Improved Developer and IT Productivity

Customers’ needs are rapidly changing and marketers who want to stay ahead of competition need to react and responds to the market shifts. They also need to lead and innovate in order to raise above the noise.

Being a developer or IT expert means that you will have to juggle priorities and multiple requests and deliver to tight deadlines. We feel for you. Our own teams are also hard-pressed to release new functionalities at a steady pace. So, in a series of major and not so major updates we have introduced a number of enhancements that have led to the latest Sitefinity release. They were designed to help keep your work-life balance in check without ever missing a deadline or dropping business requirements.

MVC Framework and Bootstrap 4

Sitefinity is now an MVC-first platform. Whether you are building a new website, or using the opportunity to revamp an existing project, MVC is the way to go. Leveraging Sitefinity’s MVC support will ensure that you can access multiple benefits like better performance, full control over markup, improved frontend efficiency, and unmatched flexibility. Using Bootstrap 4 can help you expedite that climb to the elevated mobile-first experiences that the market demands as more and more customers are consuming content on the go.

Headless—oData APIs for Content Devlivery

Some of our forward-thinking customers are already using Sitefinity’s Headless capabilities to deliver content across multiple channels. Content on legacy websites, digital signage, kiosks, native and hybrid mobile apps, and web apps can easily be kept up to date using a single content management interface. With oData API support built-in, developers can enable the marketing org to streamline content delivery. Marketers generally love to take the credit for, say, reducing the manual updates by a factor of X, but it is the developers like you who, though creative use of technology, are the true heroes.

Visual Studio Extension

Sitefinity’s VSIX plugin for Visual Studio enables developers to kick start development efforts and increase productivity. You can now quickly scaffold your MVC widgets and templates and address file structure during implementation, giving you more time to spend on business tasks.

Custom Error Pages

With Sitefinity 12.2, website managers can customize error pages to protect potentially sensitive system configuration details from being exposed. An added benefit is that customizing error pages, like the familiar 404-not-found, results in better user experiences should visitors stumble upon a broken link. It’s a win-win for both IT and Marketing.

custom-error-pages

Webhook Mechanism

This is a big one. Webhooks enable developers to extend Sitefinity with new capabilities. Long story short, it is now easier to implement triggers that automate essential things. CDN cache invalidation, sharing content on social networks, optimizing media upon clicking the Publish button, or uploading an image are just a few examples.

Webhook

Out-of-the-Box Designers for Custom Widgets

Out-of-the-box widget designers enable you to craft custom widgets with ease. Before dropping your work of art on the page you can easily set properties, change the appearance, and gain full control of the markup. Building custom content modules in Sitefinity is straightforward, why should building custom widgets be any different?

Search in Advanced Setting & Users

What devs and site managers love about Sitefinity is the ability to make it yours. Looking up configuration settings and tinkering with the system is now much easier. Simply type and press enter, and presto—you can modify almost any config setting. A word of advice though. You might get addicted to fine-tuning your system now that locating that key-value pair has become a breeze.

search-in-advanced-settings

HealthCheck Service and System Status

Just like some of us rely to wearables to track vital data, many administrators like to keep a keen eye on their systems. With the help of the Health Check service, you can perform an assessment on the basic and vital functions of your website. You can run background checks on whether the site is operational, responsive, and set up properly. And, you can configure additional checks to ensure that you have visibility on things like database access, load balancing nodes, internet connectivity, Redis Cache servers, search service, and more.

The System status dashboard widget available on the dashboard provides website administrators with a central hub for monitoring the status of key system components. It offers suggestions for resolving reported problems via integration with the Sitefinity CMS Knowledge Base or directing you to the respective configuration setting. Smart!

Continuous Integration and Continuous Delivery (CI/CD)

There has to be a reason why Facebook is leveraging CI/CD for enable developers to get their code out quickly in small, incremental steps. Both Sitefinity CMS and Sitefinity Cloud support CI/CD capabilities out of the box. With CD/CD, organizations can eliminate the need for hotfixes. CI/CD enables better support for multiple teams, provides the tools, automation, and processes necessary to allow the organization to scale, and develop the next generation of customer experiences. The bottom line is that Continous Integration is there to support business growth. For you, the developer, this translates into better productivity and hopefully fewer bugs to troubleshoot.

Performance & Scalability

There is no denying that improving site speed can have a huge impact on the bottom line. Stories about how downtime affects giants like Amazon have become mainstream. Shaving milliseconds off page load time, and improving TTFB though fine-tuning the system, are some of the key ingredients of building great-performing websites. Can your project withstand both spikes in traffic and seasonal variations? We have incorporated multiple enhancements over the last several versions that greatly improve the platform’s performance and stability.

Support for Distributed Cache

Speed does matter and you can configure Sitefinity for optimal performance by enabling the built-in support for multiple cache strategies. The system can be configured to store output cache in-memory or in a distributed cache data store such as SQL Server, Redis or AWSDynamoDB. And, thanks to the smart caching of pages, your website can continue to serve cached version of the pages while new content and pages are being generated in the background. Not only does this reduce the load on your infrastructure, but also gives your content editors peace of mind.

Start-up Optimization

Sitefinity CMS leverages the standard .NET application startup logic. Yet, our engineers have gone through thousands of cups of coffee, tea, kombucha and lots of healthy snacks to make sure that the startup process of your project is now up to two times faster. This translates in better availability and ultimately—can lead to more sales.

Page Precompilation Improvements

To optimize startup times of your website, you can leverage the Microsoft .NET Compiler Platform, called Roslyn. By enabling Roslyn for your Sitefinity CMS application, you essentially end up with improved startup and faster pre-compilation..

Here is how it (generally) works. When a frontend page is requested, Sitefinity CMS tries to load the page from a precompiled assembly. If there is no match, the page is compiled dynamically. Certainly, a lot of things are happening behind the scenes, but to summarize -- upgrading to the latest Sitefinity version unlocks the potential to precompile pages up to 8x faster.

Built-In Site Warmup

Each time your system restarts some of your customers may become impatient while waiting for your site to load. With the built-in warmup service, your site is configured for optimal performance from the very first time your customers visit it. The warmup service requests all sitemap pages, compiles them based on sitemap priority and stores the output in the cache, so your pages ready to perform at their best. This is another example of how including certain pages in the sitemap not only helps Google prioritize fetching your content, but also ensures a primed cache and snappy responsiveness.

CDN for Pages

The fact is, using a CDN to serve static files may result in improved content delivery speed, lower latency, and reduced packet loss. It also greatly simplifies infrastructure setup, especially if you predominantly serve static content. Sitefinity now supports streamlined CDN configuration to ensure that you can put the entire site behind a CDN so it feels crisper, more responsive and available to anyone from Australia to Alaska.

Multiregional Deployment

The closer your website is to your end-users, the better their experience is. While using a CDN will most likely improve the speed at which static files are delivered, serving dynamic, personalized content to remote users, with minimum latency, can become a challenge. Sitefinity’s multiregional deployment capabilities are designed to bring dynamic content closer to your user base. It is the “set it and forget it” kind of system that will work behind the scenes to ensure that databases are in sync and your users are treated to a snappier experience.

Better experiences can have a huge impact on the average lifetime value of your customers. We will talk about this more in another blog post, so stay tuned.

Website Security

Website security has always been a major concern for organizations of all sizes, but too often we make compromises. As a result, many businesses fail at implementing best practices and keeping their websites up to date or configured for optimal protection. Not only does upgrading your CMS helps keep your website in shape, but it also helps protect valuable customer data.

OpenID Connect-Based User Authentication

As of Sitefinity 11, you can configure an out-of-the-box OpenID Connect provider and its parameters, and enable authentication via OpenID protocol with third party Security Token Issuer (STS) that supports the protocol (Azure AD B2B).

Integration with Third-Party Identity Providers

Sitefinity also supports multiple third-party identity providers such as Windows authentication (based on LDAP), ADFS, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Twitter, LinkedIn and GitHub. So why not give your customers more options? Customizing the website to fit your specific business and customer needs is now much easier.

Built-in Security Protection

Sitefinity CMS was one of the first content management systems to introduce a web security module. Even if security is not towards the top of your must-have list, the ability to administrators to easily configure permissions, security settings, and response headers can come handy. (Tip: Sitefinity Cloud also boasts a Web Application Firewall and End-point protection for added oomph)

Before You Click Away

So, there you go. Moving to the latest version has many benefits and we have also created a best practices guide to help you kick-start your upgrade journey. With older versions getting out of support it is worth considering upgrading.

Let us know if you have any questions or comments below and look out for our upcoming post about what is in Sitefinity 12 that thousands of marketers love.

Alexander Shumarski

Alexander Shumarski

Alexander Shumarski is a Sitefinity Product Marketing Manager at Progress. He has spent the past 10+ years managing large-scale website initiatives and has deep-dived into online media and e-commerce industries. An adventurer at heart and a power CMS user, he has embarked on a journey to empower marketers to tell compelling stories without reliance on IT.

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