What’s New In dotCMS: Spring Update 2022 & Upcoming Features

Will Ezell

After investment led by Pacific Lake Partners in September 2021, we have seen impressive progress both as a company and a product. Growth has been the theme of the moment at dotCMS, and over the last six months, we’ve undertaken several new initiatives to enhance the product for our customers. 

In this article, we’d like to share some of those details and highlight what they mean for our customers. 

dotCMS Corporate Highlights

In 2021, dotCMS closed our best fiscal year yet, and by our current KPIs and metrics, the year 2022 could be on track to be even better. As a result, we’ve increased our headcount, staffing up in positions such as a VP of Marketing, HR Director, Product Manager, Technical Documentation Writer, Support Engineers and Developers, Customer Success, and more. We’ve also managed to do this while maintaining 100% employee retention. 

Product Management: Road to Our Roadmap

Over the past five months, we’ve done extensive work sharpening our product focus as part of our road to our product roadmap. Our latest product management tool, Product Board, has helped us organize the features we’ve contemplated over the years as well as customer feedback and suggestions. 

More than 160+ features were scored using the RICE methodology (Reach, Impact, Confidence, Effort). After prioritizing that feature list based on demand, potential impact, and effort required, we categorized them into three categories: innovation or new features; iteration, which relates to improving the software; and operating, which involves taking on technical debt or core engineering requests still in process. 

The result has been the creation of an outcome-based roadmap that will be shared internally and externally. The key ideas that inform and drive our product vision will remain the same: Scalability & Security, Hybrid Headless, and Developer Agility. 

22.03 - New LTS Version

The latest long-term supported (LTS) version of dotCMS (22.03) has some impressive new features to enhance the customer experience. 

New Drag and Drop Page Building: This allows users to quickly build a page and reuse content elements to populate that page. 

JSON-Based Content Store: Field limitations that plagued older versions are now gone. Unlimited fields can be structured in any way content search results have been approved. 

Better looking Content Search Results: Thumbnails to indicate the content types available. A minor UI update for better management of large content lists. 

CI/CD Scripts: A Bash script written to be as accessible as possible. It can be used to build CI/CD pipelines for code and configuration for sites, content types, widgets, containers, templates, and more. All of these can be dropped into a Git repository. 

Redis Caching/PubSub: A second layer cache off-site for when you’re scaling up and down so that you can get up to speed and perform better instantly.

Shenandoah GC: Reduces memory requirements and releases unused memory back to your container, for example, Kubernetes, so you can add more density and dotCMS instances to a single node. 

Content Palette w/ Drag and Drop

The latest drag and drop builder in dotCMS makes page building easier and improves the flow of content editing. 

Content Palette screenshot

Agile Improvements

Some of the agile improvements made to the product include:

  • Improved Content Listing UI w/ Thumbnails
  • Default Language from UI: Previously, this had to be set in a configuration variable before the initial startup. 
  • Secure Password Generator: Generate a non-guessable 16 character password for new users 
  • Rule-based URL Rewrites: Provides the ability to intercept requests and inject headers or rewrites within them. 
  • Email Delivery Tester
  • Smarter/dA image filers
  • Headless Widget Support: If you have a widget piece of content, it can generate an HTML and JSON representation of the content within that widget.

Enterprise Cloud SPA Hosting

One of the challenges of running content-driven headless sites is that there needs to be a place to host them. Our enterprise cloud SPA hosting is managed by AWS Amplify and can be connected to your SPA git repository. Developers can access multiple environments: DEV, UAT, and PROD that can be automatically rebuilt and redeployed on Amplify. 

Enterprise SPA Hosting in dotCMS Cloud allows software teams to focus on innovation and building engaging applications to support the business outcomes, rather than having to manage underlying infrastructure.

Along with this, dotCDN provides global static, high-performance delivery. The SPA hosting can be used with any SSR-enabled framework. By leveraging dotCMS Edit Mode Anywhere to publish content, the content can be automatically validated in the CDN to enhance content workflows. 

We’re also working on a Cloud Control app that enables a number of self-service scenarios, including ad-hoc back-ups & restores, spinning up new environments, and more.

What’s Next?

A key upcoming feature will be the Block Content Editor. Set to be available in a future release of dotCMS, it will offer:

  • New Field Type “StoryBlock” - JSON based WYSIWYG
  • Allow for “Stories” - injecting Content in-between content blocks
  • Stored/retrieved as JSON & HTML
  • It can be used headlessly and on traditional pages
  • Drag and Drop Images
  • Framework for Collaboration 

Ultimately, it could replace our existing WYSIWYG editor, providing a more elegant way to manage and style content within the CMS. 

Other Upcoming Features

Additional features to be expected in future versions of dotCMS include:

Easy Copying of Content Types: Take entire content types and create a new type based on them while maintaining all layout information. support: A valuable SEO feature for sites using client side technology to render. When Google crawls a site, it will intercept that Google request and deliver to Google a pre-rendered version of your client-side rendered page. 

Limit Key/Value field values: Limit what keys and values are available. This provides a picklist of what users can do with key-value fields. Useful for standardizing specs and inputs. 

Filtering Log output: Instead of freeform text.

Fields that are Unique per Site: Create unique fields such as a slug or URL map field for one site instead of system-wide. 

Experiments, Analytics and Event Pipelines

With page-based experiments, you will be able to create variants of a given page and use different algorithms to point portions of your traffic to different variants and measure which ones are most effective for conversions. 

These experiments will be headless-first out of the box, and a data pipeline is currently being built out. Users will also be able to track and record custom events. For example, record how many visitors have clicked the ‘download now’ button or visited a given page. 

Product Board Top Hits

Some other potential features have scored highly in Product Board and are being considered for future versions. 

  • Self-service Environments
  • Simplifying Workflows/ Content Kanban Boards
  • 2-Step Login/ Trusted Device
  • Bulk Targeting of Content
  • Import/Upload content from multiple sources (Google Drive, Box, etc.)
  • GIT integration
Will Ezell
Chief Technology Officer
May 09, 2022

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