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Sitecore introduced new installation tool (SIA) for installing vanilla package. As part of this post, I will install the Sitecore new release 9.3 with SIA step by step.

Step 1: download 9.3 package

download Sitecore 9.3 from here https://dev.sitecore.net/Downloads/Sitecore_Experience_Platform/93/Sitecore_Experience_Platform_93_Initial_Release.aspx

Step 2:  place Sitecore licence under the root installation folder

i.e. C:\Installation\Sitecore 9.3.0 rev. 003498 (Setup XP0 Developer Workstation rev. 1.1.0-r105)

Step 3:  Update SIA installation configuration(setup.exe.config)

  • SQL Server name
  • SQL Server username/Password
  • SOLR URL
  • SOLR root
  • Solr Serverice
  • Solr Port

Please note the out-of-box configuration doesn’t not support zookeeper. if you are using Solr could with zookeeper, you will need to configure your own.

Step 4:  Install Sitecore

  • Install prerequisites

1

  • Install Solr

I have multiple versions of Sitecore instances, so I changed the default port to 8986

2

3

4

  • Install Sitecore and database

5

Once it completed, you should see the success message.

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Recently I’ve been working on Azure AD B2C SSO. The business requirement is to improve the user experience by personalizing the UI based on user roles.  Personalization will be easily implement in Sitecore with virtual user roles.


One of the challenge with the above user journey we had was that the roles are not included in the claims by default with Azure B2C basic policy. 

So I had a discussion with the team (Simon and Ivan), and come up with two potential solutions:

- Using Azure Identity Experience Framework (custom policy) to include roles

- Using Microsoft Graph API for retrieving user roles

Based on the discussion, I did the POC for option 2.  So, I’m going to walk you through how to I achieved.


Terminologies

Before diving into details, here are the terminologies that will be used in the below article:

Azure AD B2C

Azure Active Directory (Azure AD) B2C is a cloud identity management service that enables your applications to authenticate your customers. This white-label service is customizable, scalable, and reliable, and can be used on iOS, Android, and .NET, or any other platform


OpenID Connector

OpenID Connect is a simple identity layer built on top of the OAuth 2.0 protocol. OAuth 2.0 defines mechanisms to obtain and use access tokens to access protected resources, but they do not define standard methods to provide identity information. OpenID Connect implements authentication as an extension to the OAuth 2.0 authorization process. It provides information about the end user in the form of an id_token that verifies the identity of the user and provides basic profile information about the user.


Microsoft Graph API

Microsoft Graph is a RESTful web API that enables you to access Microsoft Cloud service resources. After you register your app and get authentication tokens for a user or service, you can make requests to the Microsoft Graph API.


Solution (options 2)

As mentioned above, option 2 is to make a call with MS Graph API for retrieving group membership information. So we updated the user follow by introducing step 7 and step 8 (shown in the below diagram.)




In order to make a call to MS Graph API, you will have to create an app Azure and assign essential access permission to the app.

Register application  in B2C tenant

Here is the steps for creating an app in Azure:

  1. Sign in to the Azure portal using either a work or school account or a personal Microsoft account.

  2. If your account gives you access to more than one tenant, select your account in the top right corner, and set your portal session to the Azure AD tenant that you want.

  3. In the left-hand navigation pane, select the Azure Active Directoryservice, and then select App registrations > New registration.

  4. Once you created, click on “certificates & secrets” for creating client secret which you will be used in your code.

  5. Last step is to assign permissions

    • In the Required permissions menu, click on Windows Azure Active Directory.
    • In the Enable Access menu, select the Read and write directory data permission from Application Permissions and click Save.
    • Finally, back in the Required permissions menu, click on the Grant Permissionsbutton.

Build Application

Add the below configuration to your app

Make HTTP request and add roles into claim

Display Roles

I create a few groups in Azure and assigned them to my profile. After login, I can see which groups have been assigned to me.

Capture

Sitecore Virtual User

Since the user are not stored in Sitecore, we will need to create a virtual user for assigning these roles.

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Headless CMS enabled architect to  separate the content from the display layer or the front-end user experience. It is rising in popularity in the development world.  This model allows breakthrough user experience by giving developers the great flexibility to innovate, as well as empowering architects to design the most scalable, decoupled solution.  So, as a developer, are you ready for taking the challenge? 

If not, skill up yourself and get ready!  In this article, I’m going to explain some of the essential/popular technologies and tools for you.


NPM/Yarn

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NPM stands for Node Package Manager. If you are a .net backend developer, it’s similar to Nuget package which keeps track of all the packages and their versions. It allows the developers to easily update/remove them from the solution. Yarn is similar to NPM but with high performance. Yarn install packages in parallel. 

Babel

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Bable is a JavaScript transpiler that converts new JS code into old ones i.e. convert ES6 code into ES5, which allows developers to use latest JS specifications without worrying about the browser’s compatibility


Webpack

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Webpack is used to compile JavaScript modules, used for managing assets, styles, and compilation. it supports Sass, postCSS, UglifyJs etc.


ES6

Image result for ES6

JavaScript ES6 brings new syntax and new awesome features to make your code more modern and more readable. It allows you to write less code and do more. Learn more ES6 from here http://es6-features.org/

Sitecore JSS

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Sitecore JavaScript Services (JSS) is a complete SDK for JavaScript developers that enables you to build full-fledged solutions using Sitecore and modern JavaScript UI libraries and frameworks.

JSS is comprised of a series of APIs and services. At a fundamental level JSS extends Sitecore's dynamic, component-based layout model to the frontend. Whereas in a traditional JS application each route tends to host known components, in a JSS app a route's components and their data are defined dynamically by Sitecore (or disconnected data when in disconnected mode).

Driving layout dynamically enables JSS apps to support content editor driven layouts and support data-driven personalization and multivariate testing - all the power of Sitecore with all the flexibility of a headless deployment model.

JSS Sitecore Integration and Data Flow

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Recently, I’m working on Sitecore analytics project, and I found a useful tool for exporting the interactions data from xDB. That’s why I would like to share it with you.  It’s an open source project and the source code is stored here https://github.com/Sitecore/experience-extractor.  It does exactly the same job as Sitecore analytics, but allows us to export in details which you can use in below scenarios:

  • Analyze, present and share Sitecore data with external tools such as Excel, Power BI, R and Tableau
  • Prepare and shape data for machine learning
  • Integrate Sitecore Experience Data in other big data solutions

The shell section is the configuration for the export in Json format which consists of

  • Source
  • Mapper
  • And optionally post-processors

The source is the “Interactions” table in xDB. If you look into the integration table schema, it tells you what data Sitecore is capturing i.e. StartDateTime, the Browser, Location, Device etc. These fields can be the facets for your report.

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There are more information about the dimension, filter and mapper can be found here https://github.com/Sitecore/experience-extractor/wiki

 


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Recently I’m trying to export content from Sitecore with Sitecore PowerShell Module. If you have never used this module before, you can read the documents here.

I created a PowerShell script in Sitecore, and everything is working smoothly and fine, until I created a admin page for calling the scripts programmatically.  The scripts were triggered, however the file was not generated.  At very beginning I thought it was caused by insufficient permission for creating files.  So I tried to give everyone read/write permission.  Unfortunately, it was still failed with no exceptions.  

After investigating the logs, I found that it was throwing an error.  It was a bit strange to me, as if I run the scripts in Sitecore. It exports files successfully. However, if I run the scripts via the admin page I created, it fails (as shown in screenshot below)

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The error message was a bit misleading.  After a few times trial and error , I realized that when the scripts are called from external application, Sitecore PowerShell doesn’t know the context.  Thus, I added “Set-Location” for all the scripts, and run “export” again, it started working!

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