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An Ektron Developer Learns Episerver, Part 1

 

an-ektron-developer-learns-episerver-part-1

As a web developer, it’s important to keep up with the latest technologies, but it’s also easy to stick with what you know, especially when you work with the same tools every day. However, sometimes events occur which force you to expand your repertoire, and while this may require moving outside of your comfort zone, this is ultimately a good thing.

Following the recent merger between Episerver and Ektron, it became important for me to start expanding my knowledge base to include the Episerver CMS product. Since my CMS experience has primarily been with Ektron, I thought it would be a good learning experience to document what I’m discovering as I begin to use this new platform, providing a series of informational blogs for Ektron developers getting ready to make the transition to EPiServer.

Let’s start out by comparing and contrasting the two platforms:

Similarities

  • Both use a ASP.NET core development platform
  • Both offer integration points
  • Both offer Frameworks for Developers to get work done

Differences

  • Episerver provides updates directly through NuGet (If you haven’t used NuGet you’re missing out! You can learn more about how WSOL uses NuGet for Package Management here.)
  • Episerver provides out-of-the-box support for WebForms and MVC
  • Episerver is a compiled project
  • All Episerver content is structured content, similar to Ektron Smart Forms

Getting Started

As with any new venture into unknown territory, I’ve found that the best way to get started learning Episerver is to jump right in. Episerver provides a set of sample sites and Visual Studio extensions that makes getting started very easy. More information on installing those can be found here.

Similar to Ektron’s OnTrek starter site, Episerver includes demo sites for both MVC and WebForms in the form of their Alloy demo website. This example site is a great resource that developers can use to learn how content is structured.

Content Creation

The thing you’ll notice right off the bat is that all content is created by the developer, without requiring the configuration of XML/SmartForms and xsd.exe. This content takes the form of strongly typed .NET classes that developers control fully. All Ektron developers have experienced the inevitable pain that happens when removing or renaming an item in a Smart Form, so this increased level of control is welcome. Episerver is a bit more robust in this area, but care must still be taken. The ability to fully manage content as a developer is both a blessing and a curse. Good planning between the client, project management, and the developer will be important to reduce the amount of back and forth in creating the content types.

Up Next

In the next blog, I’ll go over the steps for creating content with Episerver in both MVC and WebForms. In the meantime, Episerver provides some great documentation and getting started information for developers. I encourage everyone to start there. Also, be sure to create an account on Episerver World and start communicating with other developers. There is a large amount of information shared in the community, and it is a great resource for those of us who are learning the platform. For those of you on Twitter, I encourage you to add the #Episerver hashtag to your #Ektron hashtag, as well as #EpiDev (which is the next iteration of the #EktronOH hashtag, where Ektron personnel answer questions about the platform). If you have any questions for us about Episerver development, please share them in the comments below.

About the Author

Dustin Sier
Dustin Sier
Dustin is a Web Developer at WSOL. He helps our clients to develop robust solutions that meet their business needs. He is an Ektron and EPiServer MVP, and he won an Outstanding Contributor Award from Ellucian in 2014 for work in their Luminis community. He was a presenter at the 2014 Ektron Synergy and Ellucian Live conferences. Dustin’s hobbies include space, particularly astronomy/astrophysics, and philosophy, as well as dabbling in farming.