I just got back from Sitecore HQ in Copenhagen after a MVP meeting where Tim Ward and Martin Hyldahl held a great presentation about new cool upcoming stuff in Sitecore. I really appreciate the invitation from Sitecore to let us MVP’s participate in the early development process and give input and feedback to all those brilliant ideas!
While on that meeting, I got some pings about the release of Sitecore 7.1. It’s now available for download on SDN. I’ve had a copy of it since the Miami summit, so I’ve had a little time to play around with it.
The key new stuff is of course Sitecore Process Enablement & Accelerator Kit, aka SPEAK. You’ve probably heard the buzz for some time now. At its basics, it’s really about creating backend UI’s and applications in a more convenient and streamlined way. Eventually it’ll replace Shear UI, but don’t consider using it for the front end web. It’s not meant for that, at least not yet. If you’ve installed one of the later versions of ECM, you might have noticed the speak folder in the shell. This is not SPEAK. The real SPEAK UI Framework is released now in Sitecore 7.1.
Along with SPEAK, comes a set of updated UI components in the CMS backend, such as selecting items from the Media Library and inserting links.
The second big news is that Sitecore Rocks is now in version 1.0 (1.0.1 actually) and is a supported product. Rocks is actually required to develop SPEAK applications, but who would ever consider developing such stuff without Rocks anyway? If you’re not working with Rocks already, it’s about time you start.
Sitecore has also done improvements to the Rules Engine. Some as part of the SPEAK implementation but you can leverage this in other areas as well. There is also support for MVC 4 and the Sitecore Item Web API has been improved and is now distributed as part of the product instead as a package.
There are also some minor, but still important, improvements and fixes. We finally got rid of the annoying Guids in the search boxes. It now displays the proper item names and the Guid is exposed when hovering instead. Now we just want inclusive to be the default search operation and not the third option.