#Sitecore Templates Back to Basics

We see a lot of blogs on cool things, but what I believe is missing lately are blogs on the basics of Sitecore. It has also been mentioned in the Sitecore community that we don’t have enough blog posts about the basics. So I will be doing more of these. Ironically. recently I have been holding training sessions with my colleagues at RBA. They are in roles such as QA, Strategist and Front-End development. All of them need to use Sitecore, but really don’t know the what and why Sitecore is the way it is.

I wanted to start with Templates. How I present this will be a little technical, but most of it will be broken down for easier understanding. Keep in mind this blog is geared towards the non back-end developers, but will be somewhat technical. This should give someone a basic understanding of Sitecore templates.

To explain how templates work I want to use a car as an analogy. Lets say we need to create a window sticker for a car. What fields would you need to do that?

On a window sticker you would probably see something like this.

Standard Details

  • VIN
  • Interior Color
  • Exterior Color
  • Standard Equipment
  • Options
  • Price
  • Etc…

Optional Equipment

  • Options Selected

In order to store this information we would need some sort of data structure. That is where a Sitecore template comes in to play. A template would have fields defined in order to create a window sticker item that will hold the information needed. Using this template we can create multiple window sticker items. Items btw as you can guess are created from templates. Everything you see in Sitecore is basically an item.

Template Creation

We are going to start with a simple template creation. In the Sitecore content tree the templates are usually found in the [might have a path here]/sitecore/templates folder. If you need to ever find a template for an item quickly you will see the path in the item Quick Info section. Even the Templates folder is made up of a template. See the example below.

Moving on to template creation. Typically a developer would create a new template by right clicking on one of the sections in the templates folder. For most of you reading this basic guide you don’t have to worry to much about it, but if you are curious or a new developer in the Sitecore world. This is what you will see.

We will just create a new template under User Defined. When creating a new template we will just use the default standard template. The name will be Window Sticker.

After it is created you will see several sections. For this blog on basics though we will just mainly be concerned about the Builder tab up on top. When clicking that you will see the following.

This is where we will defined the data structure for the Window Sticker item. Templates allow you to group common fields in sections. In this example we have a Standard Details section and a Options section. Each have their own fields defined. The Type of field should be determined by the most user friendly option for content entry.

Item Creation

After a template is created it usually inserted by right clicking on the item in the content tree you want to insert it under. In this case using the template created above we created a Window Sticker Item. You will see the following fields in the item. As you can see the fields we created in the template is present on the item create from the template. The Template path in the Quick Info section will take you to the template of the item if you need to make some edits.


One last thing to go over. One of the most powerful things about Sitecore templates is that they can inherit from other templates. So what does that mean? Well suppose you had an address section on several templates. You only need to create one address template and the other templates that need to use the same field can inherit from that template. When the item is created from the template that contains the inherited template the item will not only have the template fields, but the inherited ones too.

For instance let’s create a template called Factory Address.

The Window Sticker will inherit the Factory Address template. By default it already inherits the Standard template.

So now when you view the item created with the Window Sticker template you will see the Factory Address section.

Wrap Up

So I hope I gave you a basic understanding how Sitecore templates are created. There are many settings on them you can play around with, but for those that are non-technical I hope this gave you a basic understanding of them. Please reach out to me if you have any questions.

Using #Sitecore SXA Variants With a Single View

Let me start out by saying I felt this was a good route to take although may not be everyone’s first choice. There are more than one way to accomplish things correct? Here is how I do it.

What is a Variant?

A variant in SXA allows you to change the rendering output to display differently as needed. You can learn more about them by clicking here.

How to Setup a Variant

In SXA you will find the variants under /sitecore/content/[path]/Presentation/Rendering Variants. You will want to create a Variants parent item (/sitecore/templates/Foundation/Experience Accelerator/Rendering Variants/Variants) and underneath Variant Definition items (/sitecore/templates/Foundation/Experience Accelerator/Rendering Variants/Variant Definition). It is very important to name the Variants parent item the same name as your rendering that you will create. That is how SXA ties them together.

When adding the component to the page you will see the variants added.

The Code

In the view model we will inherit from the VariantsRenderingModel.

public class SuperfnaturalViewModel: VariantsRenderingModel
         public string RenderingVariant { get; set; }


The repository will inherit from the VariantsRepository. Using the method FillBaseProperties the necessary information to retrieve the variant information will be added to the model.

internal class SupernaturalRepository : VariantsRepository, ISupernaturalRepository
        public override IRenderingModelBase GetModel()
            SupernaturalViewModel supernaturalViewModel = new SupernaturalViewModel();

            return SupernaturalViewModel;

In the view we will get the selected variant using the FieldNames value (can also set this value in a variable in the view model). I know not the name (FieldNames?) I expected either.

string VariantGuid = Model.Rendering.Parameters["FieldNames"];

Checking What was Selected

Check default or if nothing is seletected.

@if (Constants.SupernaturalVariants.Default == VariantGuid || string.IsNullOrEmpty(VariantGuid))

View code goes here, you know HTML.

Check for the image left variant.

@if (Constants.SupernaturalVariants.ImageLeft == VariantGuid)

View code goes here, you know HTML.

Final Thoughts

Lots of ways to do this I am sure, but this was something I was familiar with and pretty easy for others to use in my opinion. There may be a better way, but as Adam Sandler says.

Adding Buckets with Rules to #Sitecore SXA Explained

It has been awhile since I created buckets in Sitecore and last time I did might of been before SXA was released. After some help from the Sitecore community here are the steps I took.

Create Bucketable Template

On the standard values of the template I wanted to be part of the bucket under the Configure ribbon I clicked on Bucket.

Make Sure you Keep Parent Child Relationship

The following was important and was something that was overlooked at first. On the Standard values on the same template you set the Configuration for Buckets the following had to be checked. Bucketable and Lock child relationship. The lock is really important so you don’t lose any child folders such as the Data folder. You will never find it again if you don’t.

Add Setting with Rules

Now we need to decide on folder structure and how we assign the bucket rule. To be honest I don’t remember doing this pre SXA days. Anyway rule was simple. What is important is the format. In this case I wanted yyyy/MMMM.

/sitecore/system/Settings/Buckets/Item Buckets Settings

Set the Parent Bucket

For lack of a better term it is important that you set the parent item that the bucket items will go under as bucket.

Final Results

When you right click you will now notice when you insert an item it will be stored in a bucket folder structure and the Data folder will be with it. On a side note I did use a Page Branch in order to create the structure of the item being inserted. More about those later.

Buckets are the Perfect Tool for Any Job

Getting Started Quickly with #Sitecore CDP (Customer Data Platform)

Sitecore CDP formerly Boxever is something you are probably hearing a lot about these days. As a developer you can implement it easily and as a marketer you can take advantage of some of the features as soon as it is implemented. Here are the steps in order I did to get started.

1. Get a sandbox account.

Should be able to get a login for the CDB Sandbox from your Sitecore rep. You can find the sandbox site here. This is a shared sandbox so you will need to be careful not to change anything that someone else has setup. It is ok to look and see what others have setup. That is one advantage of a shared sandbox.

When you first login to your sandbox account you should see a message like this:

2. Get your keys and Create Point of Sale Value.

To get your keys go to the gear icon at the bottom left and select System Settings then API Access.

Copy both keys. Please note in my example I did not use the API Token.

3. Create Point of Sale

Selected System Setting then Point of Sale. Click on the create button and fill out the required fields. In my case since I am using the Lighthouse Demo I called my POS LighthousePOS. Well I can’t remember if I created or it was already out there.

4. Implement code. (SXA Example)

The next step is to implement the script needed to integrate CDP with your site. The script should look like the following. As of this blog the target version should be 1.2 and s.src should be 1.4.8. You will need to add your client key.

// Define the Boxever queue
   var _boxeverq = _boxeverq || [];
   // Define the Boxever settings
   var _boxever_settings = {
       client_key: 'client key goes here', // Replace with your client key
       target: 'https://api.boxever.com/v1.2', // Replace with your API target endpoint specific to your data center region
       cookie_domain: '.lighthouse.localhost', // Replace with the top level cookie domain of the website that is being integrated e.g ".example.com" and not "www.example.com"
       pointOfSale: "LighthousePOS",
       web_flow_target: "https://d35vb5cccm4xzp.cloudfront.net"
   // Import the Boxever library asynchronously
   (function() {
        var s = document.createElement('script'); s.type = 'text/javascript'; s.async = true;
        s.src = 'https://d1mj578wat5n4o.cloudfront.net/boxever-1.4.8.min.js';
        var x = document.getElementsByTagName('script')[0]; x.parentNode.insertBefore(s, x);

I kept this pretty simple and for now created a script and put it under the Base Themes\Main Theme\Scripts folder. I created a script item called cdp-script.

5. Create an Experiment

From the menu expand Experiments and choose Web. Click on the Create Experiment button.

From there you want to click on the add variant button.

After you click on Add Variant there will be a side menu that will appear. Choose My Library Templates.

We will choose a simple popup takeover.

Change anything you want to. In this case I changed the background and font colors. You can also change HTML and script

Once done, make sure you click on the Save button then Close when you see the checkmark.

You will see the new Popup in a list. Click on the Preview button, enter in your site with the CDP script and click the go button. If everything worked correctly you should see the popup.

Once the site opens, in this case my local demo site you will see the popup created.

Another option to try is Experiences the setup is similar to Experiments. You can find on the same menu as Experiments.

This should get you started. I would take a look at what others have done since it is a public sandbox. There are a lot of possibilities with CDP and we are only scratching the surface. For more information on getting started please take a look at this video that was released as I was putting together this blog.

#Sitecore #Docker Containers Syncing Database Changes the Lazy Way

I have been using Docker/Containers for about six months. I have to tell you I really like using them. A recent project I am helping architect the solution for I decided to have the other developers use them. There were some hiccups along the way getting some developers setup, but so far it has worked out well. I think I convinced them change is good.

Ted Lasso Memes At Your Service!

Anyway one of the things I have learned is how easy it is to deploy things to containers. One of them being databases. Normally you would install Sitecore and serialize items or use Sitecore packages for changes. We are doing that. However we had multiple sites/tenants to create in SXA and wanted to make sure the team was in sync from the start. With the out of the box Sitecore tools for Docker it is easy to do.

If you look into your docker\data\mssql folder (could be a different folder depending how you setup your volume, but in this case I am using the default) you will find the ldf and mdf files for each Sitecore database. Just copy the ones for the database you want to share and put it in a shared folder for other developers. I actually stored them in Teams.

The developer who is installing the database should do a docker-compose down first. Then copy the database files to their local data\mssql folder. Once they are a copied to the other developer’s local data\mssql folder they will need to do a docker-compose up. Now they will have the same database changes as the other developer for their containerized Sitecore instance. BTW inside the mssql image you can view the database files.

So what happened? Was it magic? Well if you think PowerShell is magic then it was. As with custom web changes databases are also deployed into the images using the built in Sitecore tools. So as soon as the files are copied the watcher does its thing.

So one catch with this that I noticed recently. If you clean out your Docker Data\Deploy folders by running something like the clean.ps1 script it clears out the data\mssql folder. Which means the database changes could be lost. I will look for a workaround for this, but one thing that I did was create a clean script that keeps the database folder contents. See below for an example:

# Clean data folders
Get-ChildItem -Path (Join-Path $PSScriptRoot "\docker\data") -Directory | ForEach-Object {
    $dataPath = $_.FullName

    Get-ChildItem -Path $dataPath -Exclude ".gitkeep", "license.xml", "*.ldf", "*.mdf" -Recurse | Remove-Item -Force -Recurse -Verbose

# Clean deploy folders
Get-ChildItem -Path (Join-Path $PSScriptRoot "\docker\deploy") -Directory | ForEach-Object {
    $deployPath = $_.FullName

    Get-ChildItem -Path $deployPath -Exclude ".gitkeep", "license.xml", "*.ldf", "*.mdf" -Recurse | Remove-Item -Force -Recurse -Verbose

I will update this blog post I am sure as things evolve with Docker/Containers, but I hope for now this will give one way to share database changes. If you have a better way I would love to know.

Basic Authentication with #Sitecore 9.3

A few months back I was given a task to put in basic authentication into Sitecore 9.3. It was mainly from preventing anyone to get into staging sites. I came across and older blog that is currently missing. I wanted to give them credit since it was the inspiration for this blog. You can find the original blog post on the web archives here. I have made some of my own updates including Rules Based Configuration.

using System;
using System.Web;
using Sitecore.Diagnostics;
using Sitecore.Pipelines.HttpRequest;
using System.Text;
using System.Net.Http.Headers;
using System.Linq;

namespace Abc.SharedSource.SitecoreProcessors
    public class BasicAuthentication : HttpRequestProcessor
        private bool CheckPassword(string username, string password)
            string[] userlist = Sitecore.Configuration.Settings.GetSetting("BasicAuthUsername").Split(',');
            string[] passwords = Sitecore.Configuration.Settings.GetSetting("BasicAuthPassword").Split(',');

            if(userlist.Contains(username) && passwords.Contains(password))
                return true;
                return false;

        private void AuthenticateUser(string credentials)
                var encoding = Encoding.GetEncoding("iso-8859-1");
                credentials = encoding.GetString(Convert.FromBase64String(credentials));

                int separator = credentials.IndexOf(':');
                string name = credentials.Substring(0, separator);
                string password = credentials.Substring(separator + 1);
                if (!CheckPassword(name, password))
                    HttpContext.Current.Response.StatusCode = 401;
                HttpContext.Current.Response.StatusCode = 401;
        //Basic Auth Code End

        public override void Process(HttpRequestArgs args)
            Assert.ArgumentNotNull(args, "args");
            if (Sitecore.Context.Item != null || Sitecore.Context.Database == null || args.Url.ItemPath.Length == 0)

            if (Sitecore.Configuration.Settings.GetSetting("TurnonBasicAuth") != "True" || Sitecore.Configuration.Settings.GetSetting("TurnonBasicAuth") == "") return;
            if (PatternMatch()) return;
            var request = args.HttpContext.Request;

            var authHeader = request.Headers["Authorization"];
            if (authHeader != null)
                var authHeaderVal = AuthenticationHeaderValue.Parse(authHeader);

                // RFC 2617 sec 1.2, "scheme" name is case-insensitive
                if (authHeaderVal.Scheme.Equals("basic",
                        StringComparison.OrdinalIgnoreCase) &&
                    authHeaderVal.Parameter != null)
                args.HttpContext.Response.StatusCode = 401;

            if (HttpContext.Current.Response.StatusCode == 401)
                string Realm = Sitecore.Context.Site.TargetHostName;//HttpContext.Current.Request.Url.AbsoluteUri;
                    string.Format("Basic realm=\"{0}\"", Realm));
        bool PatternMatch()
            string[] mockUrls = Sitecore.Configuration.Settings.GetSetting("ExcludedPaths").Split(',');
            string url = Sitecore.Context.Site.TargetHostName;// HttpContext.Current.Request.Url.AbsoluteUri;
            foreach (var urlval in mockUrls)
                var containsurl = url.Contains(urlval);
                    return true;
            return false;

Since this is Sitecore 9.3 the configuration below is using rules based. ūüôā More than likely you would want to require the ContentManagement role, but you can modify the configuration to use any roles and environments. I put the username and settings in the configuration since Sitecore will also have its own and in this case is only for preventing anyone who accidently finds the site from seeing anything.

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="utf-8" ?>
<configuration xmlns:patch="http://www.sitecore.net/xmlconfig/" xmlns:localenv="http://www.sitecore.net/xmlconfig/localenv/" xmlns:role="http://www.sitecore.net/xmlconfig/role/">
<sitecore role:require="ContentManagement, Standalone">
    <pipelines localenv:require="DevBuild or LocalDeveloper">
        <processor type="Abc.SharedSource.SitecoreProcessors.BasicAuthentication, BrookfieldResidential.Extensions"
						   patch:before="processor[@type='Sitecore.Pipelines.HttpRequest.UserResolver, Sitecore.Kernel']"/>
    <settings localenv:require="DevBuild or LocalDeveloper">
      <setting name="TurnonBasicAuth" value="True"></setting>
      <setting name="ExcludedPaths" value="media,layouts,speak,/sitecore,/sitecore/admin,brpsc.dev.local/about" />
      <setting name="BasicAuthUsername" value="UserTest1,TestUser2,TesUser3" />
      <setting name="BasicAuthPassword" value="testpass1,testpass2,testpass3" />

You should then get the default login screen that looks like this:

Updating #Sitecore 9 Update 1 to Update 2

I am always a little hesitant going from one Sitecore version to another, but with Sitecore 9 I believe it is a straightforward process. Using the Sitecore package updater simplified things. Steps and pictures below.

In the control panel choose Install an Update.

Choose your package and upload.

Click the Analyze the Package brings up this screen:

I then clicked the Analyze green arrow. The following screen appears.

Some of the conflicts were spaces or things that I could skip. If it was a configuration change I still needed a patch was created. Really nothing too major.

That was it for me. There are some minor things that might need to be adjusted. Keep in mind that you will need to update NuGet packages in your Sitecore Visual Studio solution. Also, any config and pipeline changes that might be different.

Upgrading to #Sitecore 9 Data Exchange Framework Module 2.0.1. What to Expect. #DEF

In last year’s blogs I did a several part series on the Data Exchange Framework or DEF. You can find that here. I decided to upgrade my DEF Reddit feed module to the latest versions of Sitecore and DEF to get more familiar with the changes.

The first thing I did to the solution after installing the new latest version of DEF into Sitecore 9 Update 1 was to replace the following files.

Code Changes:

Starting with BaseReadDataStepProcessor I noticed a slight change.

The following code:

protected override void ReadData(Endpoint endpoint, Sitecore.DataExchange.Models.PipelineStep pipelineStep, PipelineContext pipelineContext) {  

Should now be:

protected override void ReadData(Endpoint endpoint, PipelineStep pipelineStep, PipelineContext pipelineContext, ILogger logger) {  

As you can see from the above code PipelineContext was replaced with ILogger.

The function that adds the plugin has changed.

From this:


To this:


In the RedditFeedValueReader the following method has changed since CanReadResult object is now ReadResult,


  1. public CanReadResult CanRead(object source, DataAccessContext context) {  
  2.     bool flag = source != null && source is RedditSharp.Things.Post;  
  3.     return new CanReadResult() {  
  4.         CanReadValue = flag  
  5.     };  
  6. }  


  7. public ReadResult CanRead(object source, DataAccessContext context) {  
  8.     bool flag = source != null && source is RedditSharp.Things.Post;  
  9.     return new ReadResult(DateTime.Now) {  
  10.         ReadValue = source, WasValueRead = flag,  
  11.     };  
  12. }

    In the RedditFeedFieldValueAccessorConverter class I noticed the following issue after upgrading.

    After using DotPeek to take a look I found this method no longer exists. It looks like it has been renamed/replaced by ConvertResult. Also it has been set to protected vs public.

  13. protected override ConvertResult < IValueAccessor > ConvertSupportedItem(ItemModel source) {  
  14.     return this.PositiveResult((IValueAccessor) new ValueAccessor() {  
  15.         ValueReader = this.GetValueReader(source), ValueWriter = this.GetValueWriter(source)  
  16.     });  
  17. }  

    So, I converted by existing method and it works again.

  18. protected override ConvertResult < IValueAccessor > ConvertSupportedItem(ItemModel source) {  
  19.     var accessor = base.Convert(source);  
  20.     if (accessor == null) {  
  21.         return null;  
  22.     }  
  23.     var fieldName = base.GetStringValue(source, RedditFeedFieldValueValueAccessorItemModel.RedditFeedFieldName);  
  24.     if (string.IsNullOrEmpty(fieldName)) {  
  25.         return null;  
  26.     }  
  27.     if (string.IsNullOrEmpty(fieldName)) {  
  28.         return null;  
  29.     }  
  30.     ValueWriter = this.GetValueWriter(source);  
  31.     ValueReader = this.GetValueReader(source) ? ? new RedditFeedValueReader(fieldName);  
  32.     if (ValueWriter == null) {  
  33.         ValueWriter = new PropertyValueWriter(fieldName);  
  34.     }  
  35.     return this.PositiveResult((IValueAccessor) new ValueAccessor());  
  36. }  

    The way ids were set before is now a bit different.

    Before I would set id’s using the following:

  37. private¬†static¬†readonly¬†Guid¬†TemplateId¬†=¬†Guid.Parse(“{CE67E73A-40DF-4AB7-A7D3-2FD65E166E2E}”);¬†¬†
  38. public RedditEndpointConverter(IItemModelRepository repository): base(repository) {  
  39.     this.SupportedTemplateIds.Add(TemplateId);  
  40. }  

    I changed that and now just do this:

  41. [SupportedIds(“{68BD9AAD-635F-40F3-9ACD-711662C59EEC}”)]¬†¬†

    Sitecore Changes:

    The value mapping has changed to a Treelist instead of a droplist.

    The window that gave you updates while the batch process ran has changed. Now it links to a log file.

    Those are the changes I made for now. Unfortunately, I am not able to run the process as I did before. It seems something else has changed. I am currently digging into that and have gone to Sitecore support for help. I will document the change in my next blog and also update the code repository so you can see the new changes.

Named a #SitecoreMVP 2018 MVP Technology

As I am writing this I am still in shock. Several years ago I was just learning and developing with Sitecore at night while working on other projects during the day. Little did I know where it would lead me. I have run several marathons and I can tell you this journey was a marathon. There were some good and rough times along my way, but I kept moving forward.

My drive to become an MVP started a year ago when I got a job with Paragon and they gave me the confidence to believe I can achieve MVP status. I talked to many MVPs this past year and they gave me a lot of helpful advice. I have met so many people in the Sitecore community this past year as well and I am excited about being more involved in the community as an MVP and making new connections. The highlights of this year have been the meetups, Slack conversations and most of all getting to attend the Sitecore Symposium in Las Vegas. So, I just want to say thank you to Paragon, all the MVPs who gave me advice, aspiring MVPs that were on the ride with me, Sitecore of course and the Sitecore community.

So now what? Well no matter what if I didn’t get awarded MVP I was going to continue doing what I am doing. I learned a lot about myself this past year. I love blogging, I really love Sitecore more than I realized before and most of all I love sharing my knowledge. If I was going to add something new I think it would be coming up with a YouTube video this year. I just need to find the right blog topic.

To see all the winners check it out here. Also congratulations to my co-worker Scott Gillis who has gotten Sitecore MVP for the second year in year in a row. You can check his blog at thecodeattic.


First Ever Milwaukee Meets Chicago #Sitecore Meetup Recap

So not sure exactly who’s idea it was, but it turned out to be a great one to combine the Milwaukee Sitecore Meetup with the Chicago Sitecore meetup. No Bears vs Packers football was discussed, just Sitecore. There must have been over 30 attendees. Coveo did the first presentation and I was honored to be part of the second presentation of Sitecore Symposium attendees. I can’t wait for the next one. So here is the recap in pictures.

I live in the far west suburbs of Chicago so driving to Kenosha, Wisconsin was about the same time as it took me to get to the Chicago meetups. I enjoyed my view of the country roads and put on some classic hard rock music.

I arrived at the venue. I have never been to the Brat Stop, but I may have to come back for a visit.

Upon arrival it was great to start meeting others in person and seeing people again that I have met at the Symposium, the Chicago meetups and even one of my co-workers in person.

Renee from American Eagle and Isabel from Coveo.

My co-worker Chad from Paragon and Joe from GeekHive.

Like I said a sizable number of attendees.

Look at that food. Not bad for not being Chicago pizza.

I always love Sitecore freebies. I do love Sitecore like the pin says.

So let’s get down to the meetup itself. It first started with all the sponsors telling a little about the company they work for. I talked about Paragon and what we did. Hopefully what I was saying made sense. I am a developer, but I always try and do my best to sell.

Coveo then did a presentation. Coveo has been a huge part of Sitecore searching/marketing and they always impress me. I can’t wait to do another project with their tools.










Now it was time for the Sitecore Symposium panel.


We all gave our best insights and reported things we learned and brought up a lot of subjects. Mark and the audience had some great questions. This was so much fun.

So when is the next one? Not sure, but this one was so much fun. Maybe we can discuss Bears vs Packers at the next one?