Sitefinity 4.1 is now officially available and this release marks a special milestone for us. We’re now following the release schedule of all other Telerik products. This means 3 releases per year (Q1, Q2, Q3) with service packs in between. This adds up to 6 releases per year and will ensure a steady stream of product improvements.
Here are the improvements found in the Sitefinity 4.1 release:
- Support for Azure
- Performance & Stability Improvements
- Language Packs
- Shared Content
- Page Redirects
- Lists Module
- Newsletter Module improvements
- Custom User Profiles
- Improved Documentation
- ASP.NET Membership & Role Provider Compatibility
- Full ASP.NET Lifecycle support
- Includes the latest Telerik Tools
- Improved SDK
Be sure to register for tomorrow’s webinar for more information.
Ready for the cloud! Support for Azure
Sitefinity 4.1 now offers native support for Windows Azure and SQL Azure. This means all Sitefinity web sites are ready for the cloud. By using Sitefinity and Azure customers can focus on solving business challenges, instead of managing the underlying hardware and networking.
In addition, customers will benefit from increased reliability. The Azure operating environment is completely virtualized with no dependence on the physical underlying hardware. Consequently, Azure applications are nearly immune to hardware failures that could knock a traditional web site offline for hours.
For more information, see the Sitefinity Azure setup instructions.
Faster & more bullet-proof than ever!
The latest release of Sitefinity is packed with underlying improvements that make it faster and more stable than ever. This is a part of an ongoing initiative to refine and optimize the product with each new release. Based on ongoing internal testing Sitefinity 4.1 is 35% faster than the initial Sitefinity 4.0 release.
Here are a few specific improvements that contributed to this performance increase:
- Implemented the standard ASP.NET Virtual Path Provider, transferred all templates to it
- Enabled output caching, by default, for all newly created pages
- Enabled caching for Images, Videos, Documents and Files
- Enabled OpenAccess ORM second level caching
- Removed performance bottle necks in Pages and Content Administration
- Executed regular tests are part of our build process to monitor performance
Furthermore, 4.1 includes several “it just works” improvements that enable non-technical end-users to automatically take advantage of Sitefinity’s existing performance engineering. All content is now cached by default and Sitefinity’s caching will automatically & intelligently refresh the page cache when required.
Many more improvements are planned, track these through PITS.
Now available in 9 languages – Language Packs
Sitefinity has always offered rich localization support. This enables customers to translate their public web pages into multiple languages or cultures. Now with the Sitefinity 4.1 (Q1) release, Sitefinity also comes fully translated into 8 new languages. These new language packs enable content creators to be more productive by interacting with fully localized user-interface.
To begin using these language packs, see Greg’s recent blog post.
Stop retyping, start sharing – Shared Content
Web sites frequently contain duplicated content. For example, the company address, hours of operation, phone numbers, product descriptions. There are blocks of content all over your web site that get repeated again and again. When this information changes, it can be a huge hassle to discover and modify each hidden version of this text.
Using Sitefinity Shared Content this text can be typed once and shared everywhere. If the content ever changes, it can be modified effortlessly in a single location.
For more information, see the documentation for Content Blocks.
Manage your old URL’s – Page Redirects & Alternate URLs
It’s becoming rare to encounter a 1st generation web site and most organizations have been through several web site designs (and CMS replacements). Furthermore, an organization might have substantial investment attached to old URL’s (business cards, brochures, links, etc.).
Sitefinity includes several features that enable organizations to manage these legacy URL’s while still taking advantage of modern CMS features (SEO friendly URL’s). Each page in Sitefinity can have multiple URL’s associated with it. Alternately, Sitefinity can redirect these legacy URL’s to newer pages. Furthermore, these redirects (HTTP 301) are specially configured to inform search engines that the page has moved and the old links should be updated.
For more information, see the Sitefinity page properties instructions.
Create content collections using the Lists Module
It’s relatively easy to use regular Sitefinity content blocks to create lists of content (FAQ, Contacts, Locations, etc.) However, it can be difficult to sort or re-order these items later. Typically this would require moving content widgets or copying & pasting content.
Using the List Module in Sitefinity 4.1, it’s easy to create and manage lists of related content. Once created these lists can be dragged & dropped onto 1 or more Sitefinity pages.
For more information, check out the List Module documentation.
Newsletter module enhancements – Still in BETA
This module is being created single handedly by the legendary Ivan Osmak in his spare time (which I imagine is between the hours of 2AM – 4AM). The module needs more testing and UX work, which is why the module still has a BETA status. However, it’s quickly evolving and shows a lot of future potential.
Here are the new features found in this release:
- Ability to import subscribers from:
- Integration with Google Analytics
- You can apply Google Analytics tokens to the email campaigns and track their effectiveness from the Sitefinity Analytics module
- Dynamic mailing lists
- From a membership provider – the recipients of the list are users from the given membership provider.
- From a web form – the recipients of the list come from a form created from the forms module
- A/B Campaigns
- This campaign allows users to create two campaigns (A and B) that are similar in content, but can have different “title”, “to”, “from” and “message” properties.
- Campaign Scheduling:
- The campaign can be delivered at the scheduled time to the whole list
- The campaign can be delivered at the scheduled local time of the recipients
- Campaign Preview
- You can preview each campaign before sending it.
- Campaign Statistics
- Emails opened
- Times forwarded
- Forwarded emails opened
- Number of unsubscribes
- Last open date
- Links clicked
For more information, see the newsletter instructions.
Extended User Profiles through Custom Profile Types
It is very typical for a web site to associate unique information with their user’s profiles. This custom information might include addresses, phone numbers, customer classifications, social media information and more.
In Sitefinity 4.1 it is extremely easy to associate new information with your user profiles. This is done using Sitefinity’s Custom Profiles and Custom Profile Field feature:
For more information, see the Sitefinity profile documentation.
Quick answers to your questions – Improved documentation
It’s not an accident that each of the highlights in this blog post provides a link containing the full details. Utilizing new features in Sitefinity should not feel like exploring uncharted territory. My goal with this blog post is to get you interested, but then provide a seamless transition into the technical details.
In addition to new documentation for all of the Q1 features, we’ve also entirely reorganized the developer documentation to help customers rapidly discover answers. Here is an overview of this new organization:
- Quick Start – I’m new here, help me do something cool as quickly as possible
- Essentials – Help me be productive, the fundamentals about working with Sitefinity
- Deep Dive – Advanced developer topics, Sitefinity black belt training
- How To – Articles focused on completing very specific objectives
- API Reference - Here there be dragons!
Our documentation team is growing rapidly and producing a huge volume of new resources & samples each week. We welcome your feedback!
For more information, see Slavo’s blog post describing changes to Sitefinity’s documentation.
Compatible with ASP.NET Membership & Role Providers
Sitefinity 4.1 is now fully compatible with any ASP.NET Membership & Role Provider. As a result, Sitefinity is easier to ingrate with external solutions. These 2 solutions can share a common set of user accounts (usernames & passwords). In fact, any 3rd party solution that standardizes on ASP.NET Membership & Role providers can be integrated with Sitefinity.
As a proof of concept of this feature we’ve done some internal integrations with YAF (Yet Another Forum) into Sitefinity. Because both applications utilize traditional ASP.NET Membership & Role providers user accounts can be shared. We’re putting the final touches on this integration and will blog about it very soon. :)
Support for ViewState, PostBacks and the .NET LifeCycle
Sitefinity 4.1 contains several new enhancements to provide backwards compatibility with traditional ASP.NET technologies. This means developers can now extend Sitefinity’s Backend UI using familiar ASP.NET WebForms technologies.
Includes the latest release of Telerik’s Developer Products
All Sitefinity releases include a full copy of Telerik’s award-winning developer productivity tools. These tools are ready to use in your Sitefinity projects to create extensions or customizations.
However, because Sitefinity’s release schedule is now synchronized with other Telerik products we can include the latest & greatest Q1 releases of these Telerik products:
- RadControls for ASP.NET AJAX Q1 2011 – video
- RadControls for Silverlight Q1 2011 – video
- OpenAccess ORM Q1 2011 – video
Be sure to checkout the links and webinar videos for each of these products to discover useful tips that you can use in your Sitefinity projects.
And that’s just this release, you ain’t seen nothing yet!
Just before the Sitefinity 4.1 release hit, the Sitefinity team posted the Sitefinity 4.2 (Q2) roadmap and there are some really exciting things on the horizon. This includes: ecommerce, new file providers, developer improvements and more.
We’ve been steadily growing the Sitefinity team for about a year now. Growth has it’s own set of challenges and we’ve certainly experienced many of those in the midst of 4.0’s evolution. However, we’ve managed to build an incredible team and we’re just getting warmed up.
There is a lot left to do, but there is now a consistent rhythm to our releases and our internal processes. We’re improving with each cycle. In addition, we’re getting faster and faster. Great things are on the horizon!
So what are you waiting for? Download the Sitefinity 4.1 release and get started!