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Introducing the June 2016 Fast Track release

Thursday 30 June 2016 11:37:36 pm

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We are reaching the end of June and it’s time for us to release the stable version of this fast track (v1.4.0), after having shared beta and release candidates earlier this month. If you didn’t look at those yet, you should know that this June release comes with a variety of improvements for editors using eZ Platform and eZ Studio. Here are the main ones:

Dashboarding with eZ Platform

Let’s start by the first thing editors find when they log in to eZ Platform or eZ Enterprise: the dashboard. When previous versions of the platform only offered some information and links,  this June release, introduces a new dashboard system that provides more value to users. Out of the box, this dashboard provides three widgets:  

  • Access to your pending drafts,
  • Latest content items you’ve been working on  
  • Latest content that has been worked on by the whole team.

On each of these widgets, editors are now immediately one click away from editing or previewing content.

Like most things in eZ Platform and eZ Studio, we’ve built this to be extended and customized. The three widgets provided here are useful, but more importantly they are examples. Please feel free to build your own widget, and you are also very much welcome to contribute them to the core software if they are generic enough. More documentation and tutorials on how to use the dashboard system are coming soon.

Last but not least, we’ve added  direct access from the dashboard to a “CREATE CONTENT” button. This improves the editorial experience by  giving the editor user a fast way to select a content type, a location and create content.

This is a big change, and definitely a first step as we have plans to enrich this dashboard in the future.

Visual browsing of content types and content sub-items

Another important pain point we wanted to solve in this June release was giving editors a quick view of all sub-items present at a specific location of the repository. Let say the user explores a specific section of the site, a folder in the Media library, or simply an image gallery. Up to now, there was no way to get a simple and visual view of the collection of content under this specific location.

With the June release, we expanded on the ability to create different views. The initial content list view has been improved.  There is now a  capability to see more content items, through more intuitive and clean list. This view will be developed further with more interaction. The new grid view is now here with the ability to show a thumbnail of a content item (assuming that the content item has at least one image field).

And here, just like in the dashboard feature, this has been designed and developed as something to be extended. An extension point will let developers create specific views that might fit a specific business case.

Creating content “on the fly”

Another pain point we have addressed: having a simple and seamless way for editors to create content when they are in the middle of some editorial work. Let say you write a long form story and need an image at some point. Previously, you would have had to think, choose and load the image in the system before typing the story in the system. If not, you would have to save your draft story, exit, load the desired image in the library, then come back to your first piece of work. Now, thanks to this new feature, you can simply, at any time create new content without interrupting your workflow, whether you are typing an article, editing a landing page, or doing anything else. It’s the same feature that allows editors to also now create content directly from the dashboard.

Here is a small video that shows two different use cases of that new feature.

This features comes with advanced configuration capabilities, so that you can adapt its behavior to different context.

Searching full text

One more core thing editors very often need to do in a content management system: find content. As eZ Platform and eZ Studio are still young, until now, we’ve been focusing on navigating through the repository structure to find content. With this June 2016 release, we bring the first iteration of a search feature in the content repository. For the time being, it’s a simple full-text search, leveraging the repository capabilities and it’s integration with the Solr search engine. Simple, yet very handy.

It is to be noted that this feature has been developed as a separate bundle, following a prototyping approach. The next step, for the next release, will be to merge this feature in the core platform and bring a few extra advanced capabilities such as filtering by content types and locations.

Swapping content locations

While most of the previous features are actually useful for all editor users, this specific content swap capability will speak more to advanced users. It’s a feature that was available in our previous generation, eZ Publish and now it has been brought to eZ Platform thanks to a contribution by Carlos Revillo. It lets the user swap locations of two different content items. Let’s give a practical example: if you would have a folder in your content repository with a large set of images in that folder, the folder is a good container but might not have the right behavior on your site (such as an image gallery might have) and you might actually want to have those images organised under a gallery object which then would bring the right interaction. By creating an empty gallery and swapping it with the initial folder, you can simply achieve your goal in a single operation. Moving content items would also have been possible but is sometime more laborious especially when you have many, or even several levels. Here is a small video that shows how the feature behaves.

This feature is a complex one and a great addition to the product. We have to thank again Carlos for that. Please keep them coming. It looks like it will be hard for challengers to dispute the contributor of the year title to Carlos, who is the contender, in the forthcoming eZ conference awards in Paris.

So there is a lot for editors in this new release. But there are also many other new things that should please other users. Here are the main ones:

User generated content

User Generated Content is the capability for visitors of the website (authenticated or not) to create or edit any content type. There are many use cases. For instance, a cooking website could ask visitors to contribute their recipes, a real estate website could ask consumers to post their property listing they would want to sell or rent...

User Generated Content has always been a strength of eZ, but with this new generation of eZ Platform based on the Symfony framework, we still needed to find a nice technical way to expose User Generated Content to end-users of the websites in a generic way, without requiring much development.

With this June release, we developed the core framework for that. For now it covers a limited set of field types but the system is in place and usable. We’ll improve it further to support all default field types in eZ Platform. We encourage community developers to use it and to contribute support for specific or generic field types. We’d be happy to help.

User Registration

The new User Registration capability comes as an example of how the UGC system can be used. As you know, users are managed in the eZ content repository in a very similar way to regular content, so we used this system to provide anonymous users the ability to sign-up and  register a user profile. Of course, naturally the specific workflow of what should happen after the user creates  a profile has not been developed as it can vary a lot from one business need to another. Some might need auto-confirmation, others might need staff approval… but the core feature is now available. Note that it uses the permission systems of the repository, and is not available by default for security reasons.

These are the main new features we wanted to share with you as today, but of course, the release comes also with plenty of improvements and bug fixes to eZ Platform and eZ Studio.

The nitty-gritty details of those are all listed in the release notes of this release: eZ Enterprise 1.4.0 release notes and eZ Platform 1.4.0 release notes.

What’s coming next?

This release closes the 1st part of the year and we are now entering into the cycle of preparing the August Fast Track summer release. This one will surely focus on improving many of the novelties introduced above. It will also work on new features both for the August release but also to prepare eZ Enterprise 2017 later in the year.

As ever, the best way to keep up with eZ Platform and eZ Enterprise development is to follow the roadmap progress with our development tools. More info on doc.ez.no/roadmap.

Even though we collect a lot of feedback and requests, we never get enough. If you have a need or a request, please feel free to reach out to productmanagement@ez.no or send requests using jira.ez.no. And as always, if there are any features that you want to help build, get in touch with us and the eZ Community.

We hope you enjoy this latest release and will directly get back to our desk to keep improving eZ Platform and eZ Studio to bring delight to editors and developers!

Cheers,

The Product Management Team @ eZ

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