#Sitecore Meetup Chicago Impressions

I finally attended my first Sitecore Chicago Meetup. This is my high level overview in a few words and pictures.

I got dressed for the occasion with my freshly made Sitecore Runner t-shirt. I took the train to Chicago. It is only 1.5 hour commute for me. 🙂 I am the first/last train stop to/from Chicago.

Shirt

I had some time to kill when I got to Chicago and Rightpoint invited me to check out their offices and have a beer. I got to tour their offices and talked a little about my Sitecore experiences and my current company I am at Paragon.

We got to the meeting a few minutes late. After banging on the door since it was locked we were let in. 🙂 The first thing I saw was the food. They served Lou Malnati’s pizza my favorite, along with refreshments and dessert. Regrettably I forgot to take a picture of the food.

The first presentation was “Experience Marketing Presentation: High Level Review of the latest from Sitecore. Lead by Tim Ahlenius (Sitecore Digital Strategist MVP from Americaneagle.com)”. It was great and very informative of a feature that I can see being very useful.

The second presentation was “Sitecore Publishing Service. Lead by Jim Noellsch (Senior Technical Architect from Rightpoint)”. So good to hear about how much the publishing has improved with Sitecore. I know this change will make Sitecore clients happy.

The meetup ended after the second presentation. I can’t wait for the next one. I hope I can eventually do a presentation at one. If you are interested in attending a future one check out the meetup website here. Listen to Yoda.

Yoda (2)

Unicorn vs Hedgehog TDS for Sitecore. Hmm what to choose.

So let me just start out by doing #Sitecore updates with packages only can lead to a lot of issues. My first site using Sitecore I had to do that. It was with a company that was new to Sitecore and I had to learn it at night with a certified Sitecore developer they contracted to help. Some very long nights, but many years later it was all worth it. While creating packages and installing them it always seemed something was missing especially the bigger changes. It was also not always easy to reverse the changes if something went wrong. (I know now there are ways to do that.)

My next company I was introduced to Hedgehog’s TDS product and never looked back. Sure at first there are some learning curves. There were sync issues when working with other developers especially when working on the same things. It seems those issues have been worked out and I don’t see many of the issues I had when I first used it. Most Sitecore developers are familiar with TDS. In case you are not it allows you to sync Sitecore items (templates, content etc…), integrates well with Visual Studio, Glass Mapper and also has settings that make it easy to deploy your site. It does many other things.You can check out their site here.

Recently I was introduced to Unicorn. It is an open source utility used to sync Sitecore changes. Quoted from GitHub: “Unicorn is a utility for Sitecore that solves the issue of moving templates, renderings, and other database items between Sitecore instances.”  You can find Unicorn on GitHub here. I have wrote some blog posts on my experience with it. I think it a great product and it keeps getting better. It syncs Sitecore changes and helps integrating changes between team members much easier and safer than packages. I like the control panel page that is part of Unicorn. It explains step by step what you need to do to sync changes. It does not do everything TDS does, but it is still evolving and may do some additional things TDS does.

So which one do you choose? Either option in my opinion will be better than using just packages for everything. TDS is supported by a major software company and does a lot of things that make it convenient setting up a Sitecore environment. Unicorn is great if you want something simple and clean to do your Sitecore updates with other developers. Unicorn sums up the main differences below from their GitHub site:

Unicorn solves some of the same issues as Hedgehog’s TDS. The major difference in approach is that because Unicorn forces all of the merging to be done on the disk, you never have to manually select what to update when you’re running a sync operation or remember to write changed items to disk. Unless you have actual collisions, this saves a lot of time because you can take advantage of Git, SVN, TFS, etc to do automerges for you. That said, TDS and Unicorn have different feature sets and goals. TDS is a monolithic product with commercial support and marketing that does a lot more than just serialization. Unicorn is relatively simple, free and open source, and does one thing well. Use whatever makes you happy 🙂

So what do you prefer and why?

 

Unicorn for Sitecore Setting up Separate Core/Master Database Serialization

After getting the Unicorn sync to work I wanted to have separate folders for the Core and Master database items. It will keep things organized much better that way IMHO. After researching an asking around in Slack I came up with the following solution.

First  based on the Unicorn.Configs.Default.example I created two new configs. Unicorn.Configs.Core.config and Unicorn.Configs.Master.config.

coremasterconfig

In each file I changed the configuration name and description. Also it is very important that you add an entry for the physicalRootPath. This will override the default path.

This is what I did for the Core database. You will notice that the path ends in \Core.

 <configuration name="SitecoreTestSiteCore" description="This is my Sitecore Test Site. I am testing Unicorn and syncing CORE only.">
 <targetDataStore physicalRootPath="C:\Projects\SitecoreTestSite\src\WebApplication1\WebApplication1\App_Data\Unicorn\Serilization\Core" type="Rainbow.Storage.SerializationFileSystemDataStore, Rainbow" useDataCache="false" singleInstance="true" />

This is what I did for the Master database. You will notice that the path ends in \Master.

 <configuration name="SitecoreTestSiteMaster" description="This is my Sitecore Test Site. I am testing Unicorn and syncing Master only.">
 <targetDataStore physicalRootPath="C:\Projects\SitecoreTestSite\src\WebApplication1\WebApplication1\App_Data\Unicorn\Serilization\Master" type="Rainbow.Storage.SerializationFileSystemDataStore, Rainbow" useDataCache="false" singleInstance="true" />

After Initialization I did a sync. Look it is a cool looking unicorn.

unicorn

Now I have two separate directories for Core and Master files.

coremasterdirectory

Let me know if you have any questions.