What to Do In 60 Days with Your Sitecore Trial License
Sitecore now has a 60-day trial license - but it is technically in a preview period for now. This is the first time that Sitecore has made something like this available, and it creates a great learning opportunity for developers and marketers interested in getting started with Sitecore.
Sixty days isn't a lot of time to take in a product and platform as large as Sitecore, so it's important that you make the most of those 60 days. Here are a few recommendations on how to get started before and during your trial with Sitecore.
Before Getting the License
- Check system prerequisites. Ensure that your developer/demo system meets the hardware and software requirements. In general, a competent Windows 7 machine for Sitecore 8 and Windows 10 for Sitecore 9. SQL Server Express or better should be installed as well. 16 GB of memory for development is highly recommended.
- See Sitecore documentation for the basics. Sitecore documentation is sometimes hit-or-miss, but the basics of the platform is covered by the documentation site for Sitecore 8 and developer documentation for Sitecore 9.
- Review articles and blog posts on Sitecore Spark. Sorry for the plug, but I just had to. Articles present Sitecore topics in simplified form, while blog posts cover all sorts of topics.
- Read Helix. Helix is Sitecore's recommended architecture pattern for implementing Sitecore, and many agencies, developers, and integrators have adopted it.
- Meet the Sitecore community. The Sitecore community is made up of awesome minds and personalities, all willing to share knowledge and answer questions.
After Getting the License
- Install Sitecore. Sitecore 9 uses the Sitecore Install Framework (SIF), which consists of PowerShell modules and configuration, to install all the necessary software and services. The community has already made this much easier with SIF-less installation, so go that route to get up and running quicker.
- Learn the Sitecore Client. Once you're logged into the Sitecore Client, become familiar with all the apps available from the Launchpad. Learn how to navigate the content tree with the Content Editor. Open the Marketing Control panel and browse around. Edit the sample Home page in Experience Editor.
- Understand how a page is built. See the sample Home page in the Content Editor. Under the "Presentation" tab, click the "Details" button under the "Layout" section and study how that page is assembled with layouts, sublayouts, and renderings.
- Install Habitat. Sitecore Habitat is a sample Visual Studio solution built to demonstrate Helix principles. Download it, review it, and deploy it. Study the codebase as you read along with Helix. This will also give you a fully functional website to use in Sitecore.
- Create and modify Habitat pages. Once you're familiar with the information architecture and site structure of Habitat, create new pages or modify existing ones. Become familiar with the UX similarities and differences between the Experience Editor and Content Editor.
- Personalize a page. Personalization is one of Sitecore's most powerful useful features. In the Experience Editor, try personalizing a component and testing it out. Try creating a new visitor experience by personalizing multiple components based on different rules.
Start Developing for Sitecore
- Set up a new Visual Studio solution. Ignore the complexity of Habitat and start with a blank Visual Studio solution based on ASP.NET MVC.
- Get started with Glass.Mapper. Glass.Mapper is a great ORM for mapping Sitecore data fields to models in C# code. This is such a commonly used library in Sitecore solutions that it is worth learning now.
- Install and configure Unicorn. Another common Sitecore tool, Unicorn is used to move content between developer Sitecore databases and deployments. This is a configuration-heavy tool, and worth learning as part of your development workflow.
- Build a component. Learn how to create and deploy a new Sitecore component, then add it to a new layout. Eric Sanner's excellent Sitecore Bootcamp series covers component development.
- Install and play with Sitecore PowerShell. Sitecore PowerShell Extensions (SPE) can be downloaded from the Marketplace. This gives you access to the Sitecore API (and more) via PowerShell scripting.
If you have any questions or want some personal help during your trial period, please reach out to me. The larger Sitecore community is willing to help as well, so check out the Slack channels, Community forums, and Sitecore Stack Exchange.
Do you have questions, comments, or corrections for this post? Find me on Twitter: @BrandonMBruno