You may have noticed me posting this blog before the weekend. I wasn't actually using our software, I should have. Read on about embargo Workflow below.

Preamble to SDL Web 8.5

Last year we introduced a new micro-service architecture as part of SDL Web 8 to significantly reduce the deployment and setup complexity while increasing scalability and redundancy. We received very positive feedback from customers and partners alike, telling us how they leverage the benefits of SDL's cloud strategy already.

As mentioned at the Tridion Developer Summit in Amsterdam and in various meetings with customers, in 2016 we began releasing SDL Web more frequently. Every quarter, to be precise. The first quarter included the 8.1.1 cumulative update to SDL Web 8 which was shortly followed by a mid-year cloud release, including an update to the authorization model in the form of system-wide privileges. Another cloud update is coming shortly and, towards the end of the year, the previously built functionality combined with a few more additions for on-premise will be released under the “SDL Web 8.5” release name.

The 8.5 version name was chosen to set the appropriate expectations for this release. Rather than the larger changes between releases that were separated by 18 months to two years, 8.5 will provide a solid step towards the next major version.

For marketers

With the popularity of Translation Review and the Translation Preview functionality, we know customers may experience SDL Web's workflow capabilities for the first time, so we wanted to improve the experience. Bundles and multi-item Workflow were already added in SDL Tridion 2013. SDL Web 8 included performance improvements and in this release we will include search in the user workflow dashboard and the ability to choose a specific user rather than just groups for the next workflow activity.

SDL Web's workflow capabilities are especially used in content embargo scenarios, where content approval and scheduled publishing are key. In this release we also introduce functionality to enhance the support for user collaboration scenarios. Users can view the draft content of each other and assign tasks to individual Users in addition to Groups. Many more enhancements and user interface improvements were add to streamline daily operations and make content editors’ lives easier such as favorites in the item select dialogue and the ability to automatically publish as part of the translation process.

For IT

In this release (8.5) of SDL Web 8, following the micro-service architecture changes, we have implemented quite a few more enhancements to reduce Total Cost of Ownership (TCO), which include:

  • Support for BLOB storage on AWS and Azure (Content Manager)
  • Database support of AWS Aurora (Content Delivery). Update December 2: Support is planned for a next Cumulative Update.
  • Further adoption of ETW real-time event tracing across all components
  • Additional functionality added to the SDL Digital Experience Accelerator (DXA), most notably:
    • Audience Manager integration
    • Device detection functionality by 51Degrees
    • HTML Forms, including a sample for a Login form
    • E-commerce Framework to enable integrations with Fredhopper, SAP Hybris and Demandware

The first two bullet points – BLOB storage and AWS Aurora – contribute to a much more scalable and cost-effective solution for our software, while contributing significantly to the high availability our customers are used to expect from us. AWS Aurora support in particular introduces multi-region support for Content Delivery in a way that we could only dream of, only a few years ago.

This version also introduces full active/active failover support for the Content Deployer, which now supports a redundant setup, and we’re bringing back the option to publish to multiple destinations. This functionality was removed in SDL Web 8 mostly because we believe there are better redundancy technologies on filesystem and database levels. This remains our recommendation, especially to leverage those capabilities from cloud providers, but after extensive conversations with customers and the implementer community, we’ve decided to bring back this hugely popular option, used by many of our customers.

Based on feedback from Bootcamps, Knowledge Sharing sessions and discussions with implementers, we introduced a UI for managing Publications mappings to their destination URLs (first introduced as an extension but now part of cloud and the next on-premise release). These and other topology management concepts have got our attention which will also see the introduction of an Environments overview, and we will continue to improve the user experience around managing website topologies.

Easier upgrades

As announced earlier this year in a Webinar, we now support an upgrade path where the Content Manager is upgraded first, further reducing the impact of adopting Web 8. This is even supported against a Content Delivery stack of SDL Tridion 2011 and later (some restrictions apply for some of our add-ons).

All functionality described above and more will be available in Q4 this year for all customers on-premise and in cloud. Stay tuned!