Milwaukee #Sitecore October Meetup Recap. @layeronemedia #mkesug @ParagonInc

This was my second Milwaukee meetup and this one like the last one did not disappoint. I drove 2+ hours to get there both ways, but it was worth it. So here is the summary in pictures.

Food First

Presentation 1

The first presentation was “Keeping Content Editors In Mind When Implementing”​ presented by Andrew Schwabe. He talked about one of the most forgotten things when creating a website. The content editor. He emphasized to think of the customer as the content editor on how you could make their experience better. Lots of great tips such as getting the experience editor changes in front of them before the front-end done. So, they can get a feel of how they will change things. Also figuring out what the customer really needs and wants to change instead of giving them extra steps to do one thing.

Presentation 2


The second presentation was “Introduction to Sitecore JavaScript Services (JSS)​” by Phil Busch. This was one of the first times I have seen JSS in action and it did not disappoint. We started from PowerShell, then Visual Studio and then finally in Sitecore. One of the biggest things I learned is that you have to change your mind set and be more front-end focused then back-end focus which is normally the case when most Sitecore developers are coding.

Next meetup is Chicago meets Milwaukee. Always a good time at that one.

Top 5 Presentations at the #Sitecore Symposium I Would Want to Attend #SitecoreSym

Unfortunately, this year I won’t be attending the Sitecore Symposium. However, if I was these are the top 5 presentations I would want to see.

1. Managing technical debt while implementing Helix principles – Day 1

This one appeals to me as I see about half the clients, I work with trying to move their existing site into a Helix solution. Sometimes It is a straightforward process, but most of the time it is not. This class would be great to learn some techniques that I can apply to my clients. I would also ask the question of at what point is it better to just start from scratch (new solution and Sitecore instance) versus trying to get a square into a circle? You can find more about this session here.

2. Face recognition, AI, and personalization: Data-driven marketing in a brick-and-click store – Day 1

I will be honest. I use face recognition several times a day with my iPhone. Whether it is to unlock the phone, put in a saved password, make a purchase etc. There is no doubt this something that will be integrated more and more and leveraging Sitecore as part of that is key to changing with the times. I would love to see how a web cam can be used with face recognition. I would have a lot of questions on it and I am sure from this class I could discover things I haven’t heard of before. You can find out more here.

3. New editing experience in Sitecore: What it means for developers – Day 2

I would say at least 60% of clients I work with use the experience editor. I am so old I remember it was once called page editor. I have done many overrides and changes to the EE and really have gotten a good feel for it. With the new changes in Horizon I know it would be critical to learn them. So, I can better serve my clients. You can find out more here.

4. Netflix next with Sitecore Cortex – Day 2

This class combines two of my favorite things. Netflix and Sitecore. I haven’t done much with Sitecore Cortex, but this class would give me some good ideas and how to use it. I am hoping this class will be available online so I can follow the steps. You can find out more here.

5. Data integration: Get your head in the cloud – Day 3

For people that follow my blog and me on Twitter know I like data integration with the Data Entity Framework. This class leverages the Sitecore Item Service API and Azure WebJobs and Functions. From the description “This is a scalable, secure, and robust approach to data integration.”. You can find out more here.

Have fun if you are attending (especially my fellow MVPs). If it is your first time there make sure you take it all in and network with the Sitecore family. There is so much to learn. It is such an awarding experience.

#Sitecore Data Exchange Framework Revisited (Reddit to Sitecore Feed)

I did a blog series on DEF and I did a few more follow up blogs. You can find the previous blog on DEF here. After I updated my Reddit Feed example to the latest DEF and doing a presentation on it I decided to do an updated blog.

You can find the my Sitecore Market Place module here. You can find the code in GitHub here.

So, let’s get started.

Overview (what is covered in this blog):

  • What is Data Exchange Framework?
  • How Can it be Used?
  • Sitecore Setup
  • Backend Setup
  • How to Run
  • Scheduling Data Exchange Framework Batch Jobs
  • Final Thoughts

From Sitecore:

Sitecore Data Exchange Framework is designed to facilitate the transfer of data between systems. It allows you to define the logic needed to read data from a source system, transform that data into a format that is compatible with a target system, and write the transformed data into a target system. Developers can build connectors that allow 3rd party systems to serve as source and target systems.

How can it be used?

  • Importing Data from One Source into Sitecore (example rss feed, reddit feed etc…).
  • Exporting Data from Sitecore into Another System (external SQL tables)
  • Reading and Processing xDB contacts.
  • Anything data related. The possibilities are endless.

Sitecore Setup

Below is the overview on how the Data Exchange tenant was setup.

Expanding the Pipeline Batch, you will see the following:

So, let’s start dissecting this stuff.

Sitecore Setup – Value Accessor Sets

  • Used to map field values from the source (Reddit).
  • Used to map source values from Sitecore.

Each Accessor set has a field. I made these fields the same names I was getting from the feed. It made things a little easier to remember.

For the Sitecore field you will use the fields of a template you create. In this case it will be a Reddit item template.

The field value is going to point to the item template of the Reddit feed item. I kept the field naming consistent with the feed.

To bring those together we will use a value mapping set. This will make the connection from the Reddit feed field to the Sitecore field. In this example Title of the Value Accessor Set for the Reddit feed chosen.

In this example created a template that contains settings needed for the field. Template inherits from the endpoint base template. For the Sitecore endpoint I created and used the default values.

The converter type points to a created method in the code behind. The method is used to retrieve the blog path.

Converter Type is defaulted.

Backend Setup – Overview

This is a snapshot of each folder that was created and the corresponding class file.


The Supported Ids above, the template id ({68BD9AAD-635F-40F3-9ACD-711662C59EEC}) being set refers to the following template. This template inherits from the Value Accessor template installed by the DEF package.

So how this corresponds to Sitecore is simple. A Value Accessor Set item is created and the items underneath it uses this template. In the RedditFeedFieldValueAccessorConverter class it is setup to get the value of that field using the combination of the template and the field name defined in the RedditFeedFieldValueValueAccesorItemModel. You will see how this is tied into other parts of the DEF process as we go along.

In the code you will notice a ValueReader and a ValueWriter are set. The ValueReader is used to read in the feed and match the fields for each Reddit blog item. The field definition is contained in the stringValue. The ValueWriter defines a new PropertyValueWriter class. That class is part of the DEF and used to convert the field values. (This code was changed in 2.1 versus previous versions so you might see this done differently if using an earlier version).


This class will process the Reddit Post item and match field name with value. Title, AuthorName, SelfText etc… are field names in the Reddit feed. I believe you can name these differently, but I prefer to keep the same name as it is in the Reddit post item.


The Reddit End Point will have the information for the Blog Path in Reddit. The TemplateId defined points to the RedditEndPoint template. Settings are returned and added to the plugin. The plugin is required to be implemented by the pipeline converter and processor.

This is the model plug in code:

This is values of the Reddit Endpoint. You can see that the Converter Type points to the RedditEndPoint class.

More about this later, but as you can see in the Reddit Pipeline Step the Reddit Endpoint is selected. Now you can see how this all ties together.

Looking in Sitecore you can see where the Converter Type points to the Endpoint Converter and the Processor Type which will get called and receive the end point information and do the Reddit Feed processing.


The converter is one of the most crucial parts of the DEF. This is what ties together the pipeline step of the DEF. The SupportedIds value is the template id of the Reddit Pipeline step. As you can see the endpoint settings are passed into the pipeline step.


In Sitecore under Pipelines\Reddit Pipeline\Reddit Pipeline Step you will see under Processor Type the RedditItemsProcessor defined.

The next images shows the code for the processor. You will see that the Required EndpointPlugin is defined for RedditSettings.

Endpoint, PipelineStep and PipelineContext should all have values at this point. As you will notice the ILogger parameter is used to set up any custom logging.

If you look at the method RedditFeed, what that does is create a new Reddit class using RedditSharp. It then uses the blogpath setting from the endpoint to retrieve the blog feed.

A collection of reddit feed blogs is then created. It will use fieldnames we defined earlier to match the Reddit feed fields to the fields defined for the new Reddit Sitecore item.

How to Run

Below you will find a Pipeline Batch that was created to run all the necessary steps to process and import the data into Sitecore.

Below are the steps that get run under Pipelines. You can also see above that the Reddit Pipeline is selected.

One of the things I found difficult with DEF now that I have used it quite a bit is getting the correct settings right on each step. I got some help from an expert on Slack. So hopefully this will help someone else.

The first setting Iterable Data Location is important because that is your data that was read in. The Data Location is usually set to Pipeline Context Source.

The Identifier Value Accessor is set to your unique key for your data. Identifier Object Location is usually set to Pipeline Context Source.

Resolved Object Location will usually be set to Pipeline Context Target.

See setting below for mapping. Source and Target are common.

Finally you have the Item Location that will be used to map to the Sitecore Endpoint.

When you first click on the Pipeline Batch you will notice a group of buttons on the ribbon. If something is not correctly setup these buttons will be disabled. To run the Pipeline Batch just click on the Run Pipeline Batch button. While it is running the button will grey out and you will see the Stop Pipeline Batch button enabled. After it is finished running the Run Pipeline Batch will be enabled again.


If you need information on scheduling the DEF process check out my previous blog here.

Final Thoughts

  • The Data Exchange Framework should always be considered when importing/exporting data in Sitecore.
  • It does not completely replace tools such as RAZL as the process would be more manually intensive.
  • The possibilities are endless.

I hope this guide helps those who need to get started with the Data Exchange Framework.