Earlier this week I followed the Sitecore XP 8 Website Development for .NET Developers (WND) training. Today I passed the final exam and now I am a Sitecore XP 8.0 Certified Professional Developer.
Sitecore Experience Platform
You can use Sitecore as a content management system to build your public-facing website. But Sitecore is more than that. Sitecore is an Experience Platform that helps you in turning your website into a powerful marketing instrument. With Sitecore you can easier engage with your visitors and turn them into loyal customers.
Similarly to SharePoint, Sitecore has rich extensibility capabilities. And although there are different opinions of which developer story is better, the point remains that you can extend the Sitecore Experience Platform with custom solutions supporting your business goals.
Am I abandoning SharePoint?
No, not at all! Over the last few years Microsoft has been heavily investing in new ways for developing applications on the Office 365 platform. I've been researching building solutions leveraging the new Office 365 APIs and the Office Graph and building applications using Office 365 on the .NET stack and beyond. I intend to keep exploring the new capabilities as they emerge and to share my experiences with the community - just as I've been doing it for the past few years.
So are the days of SharePoint WCM over and will I be doing WCM with Sitecore from now on?
SharePoint 2013 introduced many improvements for building public-facing websites. Earlier this year Microsoft discontinued the public-website offering on Office 365. Many perceived this decision as the end of public-facing websites on SharePoint. Those of us who know SharePoint and Office 365 a bit better, know that that offering was different from the capabilities available in SharePoint on-premises.
Microsoft made no announcements related to the WCM capabilities in SharePoint 2016 yet. Assuming that everything that was possible in SP2013 will still be available to us in SP2016, SharePoint will remain a solid WCM platform. I am confident that using our WCM experience at Mavention, we build great public-facing websites using SharePoint and we will continue to do so with SharePoint 2016.
So why Sitecore?
If WCM is everything that you need, there are many content management systems in the market that you can use to build your website. Having learned about Sitecore for a week I could even say that there are some things that are better in SharePoint than in Sitecore. What distinguishes Sitecore from other systems, are its advanced Experience Management capabilities.
If you are using your website as a marketing instrument for your organization, you will find a lot of added value in Sitecore. Using Sitecore's Experience Management capabilities your website will support your business goals and assist you in engaging with your visitors and customers.
I believe that in the future the demand to use websites for marketing purposes will increase and become more of a commodity. Being able to leverage Sitecore to help customers achieve their goals via their website is my way of acknowledging this trend. At the same time I am confident that for some customers using SharePoint for their public website will still make perfect sense. Both SharePoint and Sitecore have their strength and weaknesses and there are valid scenarios for using both of them.
I'm staying engaged with the Office 365 platform and SharePoint WCM. At the same time I'm going to use my experience with SharePoint WCM and building high-quality public-facing websites to research new development opportunities on the Sitecore platform and will be sharing them with the community. One area that I am particularly looking forward to exploring is combining Sitecore with Azure and Office 365 to deliver integrated experiences spanning your internal organization and your customers.