Thursday, April 7, 2016

The Sitecore community and what is available

Personally, one aspect of Sitecore of which I am particularly passionate about is the community that surrounds the platform (both online and offline). The various community channels have helped me with many Sitecore implementations and this blog (among other efforts) is one way that I try and give back. Today is going to be a writeup focusing on what is out there in terms of the Sitecore community, and what benefits they provide.

Online Community

Sitecore Forum: Available at https://community.sitecore.net/, the official forums (currently beta) are the prime location to read up on the latest Sitecore updates, as well as have a general discussion about the product. The developer section provide a medium for specific questions to be asked and usually answered, in one of the following categories:
  • Installation and Upgrading Sitecore
  • Marketplace modules
  • Official Modules and Add-Ons
  • Sitecore Commerce
  • Sitecore: Core CMS
  • xDB, Experience Marketing, and DMS
It's a budding community with many dedicated posters whom aim to assist users with any queries they may have. From my observations, there will usually be at least one response/answer to any help requests, which can provide more detail than other mediums.

Sitecore Official Blogs: There are a number of Sitecore employees whom blog about various topics on the Sitecore website. John West was one such blogger, who has since retired but I guarantee has helped each and every Sitecore developer with one of his posts. These blogs fit into three main categories:
Each provides great insight into their specific areas, and have multiple authors writing for each section. The business blogs contain posts from some of the Sitecore executive team, which can yield some great knowledge and discussion points.

Third Party Blogs: There are literally thousands of bloggers out there sharing their experiences (no pun intended) on the Sitecore platform. You will likely stumble across these when searching for an answer to a problem, using social media, or perhaps shared from friends. There are far too many blogs to list here, but feel free to mention your own in the comments below.
 
Youtube: For some people reading articles and following lists of instructions is not the best way to learn. Luckily there are a number of users who upload videos to YouTube with content relating to Sitecore. The official Sitecore YouTube channel has a number of videos which cover product features, recorded webinars, and even conference videos. Try a search over at YouTube for a Sitecore topic which interests you, and take a look at some of the well produced content available out there.

Webinars: You probably receive emails from Sitecore's marketing department about many of the great webinars they have to offer. Packed with great content across all topics and disciplines (developer, marketer, architect), these webinars are a great way to learn more about the product and provide ideas to implement on your website. The presenters are usually top notch and considered experts in their fields (such as the many great marketers who present on that area, or technical MVPs about development). These webinars are listed on the events section on the Sitecore website, and there is also a feed available here.

Stack Overflow: Perhaps one of the most important community aspects for any developer, in any CMS or language. If you are having trouble with a specific aspect in Sitecore and it doesn't warrant a ticket to Sitecore support, then Stack Overflow is a great place to visit. The collective knowledge of the users answering questions is impressive, and I find that answers will start streaming in right away. For those of you interested in becoming a Sitecore MVP, Stack Overflow is a great place to help the community out and to show you are worthy of the title. For a look at questions related to Sitecore on there, you can use the tagged with Sitecore feature.

Sitecore Marketplace: A treasure trove which contains a number of Sitecore packages (written by community members) that add functionality into the Sitecore platform. It's a great way to save on development costs and ultimately provide a better experience for your site visitors. Some of the modules which I use in a lot of Sitecore projects are for advanced workflows and Sitemap functionality. There are also some tools available here such as the Sitecore log viewer or the Sitecore Instance Manager (SIM), which is an official tool which aids in managing/deploying your Sitecore instances.

Twitter: Twitter is a popular location which is used by many of the Sitecore community for: official news, links to great content, to ask for help and to have general conversation. Sitecore has a number of accounts, as do providers of products such as Hedgehog development or your favourite Sitecore partner. Personally I find it the easiest way to stay up to date with Sitecore, and have found a number of personalities in the industry to follow.

Sitecore Slack: Slack is a collaboration tool used my many large organisations and education institutions all over the world. It allows users to join groups together (in this case the Sitecore group) and not only message, but share files, and integrate with other applications such as Skype. The application works on all platforms and devices and is a great way to get together with the Sitecore community and maybe share some Sitecore memes you might have up your sleeve.

Offline Community

Sitecore User Groups: Sitecore user groups are useful in the fact that they get like minded Sitecore users together for networking and presentations of some interesting content. They are often run and sponsored by the local Sitecore representatives, however they tend to run when there is demand, so speak to your local Sitecore contact and let them now your interested. Using Google to search for [location] Sitecore user group, is how you can find if there is an established group in your area. Dedicated Conferences: Sitecore holds a number of dedicated conferences throughout the year. Two current examples would be:
  • Sitecore Symposium: a global conference which as stated allow you to "connect with Sitecore experts, marketers, developers, partners, and customers from around the world for two full days of education, inspiration and so much more". I hope to see you there!
  • Sitecore User Group Conference (SUGCON): Is a users organised conference which "will be packed with the latest insights and advice from some of the most experienced, skillful Sitecore experts in the world, both from Sitecore and the community."
Industry Conferences: Sitecore is often a presenter, sponsor and booth holder at many industry conferences all over the world. A recent example would be MarTech 2016 where Sitecore held a booth and their CMO Scott Anderson made a presentation. The best place to follow what conferences and other events Sitecore will be represented at is by following them on Twitter or visiting their events page.
 
Sitecore Hackathon: This competition sponsored by Sitecore aims to have teams of three competing from all over the world to implement a Sitecore feature over a weekend. It's a great way to build up competition among Sitecore developers worldwide and also to get some great new features entered into the community.

Conclusion

There really is a lot of community support out there available for the Sitecore Experience Platform, and the dedication by those who invest their time into it shows how the product is at the front of a lot of peoples minds. If you think I have missed any community aspects in this post, or want to plug your own site, feel free to in the comments below.

1 comment:

  1. And for sure - the entire Sitecore serchable knowledge base with 10K entries (blogs, videos, official documentation, stackoverflow Q&A) - it is all available at one place here: http://Sitecore.Link/

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