What’s New in AEM 6.3: Sites

AEM | April 28, 2017

By now, if you haven’t heard that AEM has released its latest version, 6.3, you should probably crawl out from under that rock you’ve been living under…after all, a technology that’s only a few days old is considered a dinosaur in this day and age! Kidding aside, with a GA date of 4/26/17, it’s likely tech teams across your company, and many others, have started scrambling to find out what new features Adobe is delivering with its latest AEM release.

We have the inside scoop and will be sharing our insights in a series of posts. In this first one, we look at AEM 6.3 Sites and some of its top features. Make sure you check back each week for additional posts about how to perform the upgrade and other key parts of the platform!

Improving Usability

A couple of the themes for this AEM release revolve around improving usability without the need for “custom” development. Adobe is making life easier by adding features for authoring, developing, and administering sites, as well as furthering the push towards touch UI and mobile first ideologies.

Core Components

Let’s start with what Adobe is introducing as “Core Components”. These are a set of open-sourced components hosted on GitHub (similar to the ACS-Commons packages) that can be a great launch point for any site. They follow best practices with the latest technologies including HTL, Sling Models, and mobile first implementation. They will also constantly be maintained and updated by Adobe as new versions roll out. These components will provide great business value through their configurations. For example, the “Text” Core Component can be configured in the template editor (or design mode) to enable/disable certain RTE plugins, without the need for a development team to write a custom component. Exposing these kind of configurations to the template editor remove a lot of the often repetitive customization previously put on the shoulders of developers.

These components will be visible in a standard Quickstart instance because the sample We.Retail site references them, but when installing a “production-ready” instance with the “nosamplecontent” run mode they will not be visible, unless they are specifically included by the development/operations team. Also, for those still using the foundation components, don’t worry (just yet)… Adobe is still providing those with the 6.3 release, but they won’t be adding any additional functionality to them. Their goal is to slowly phase them out in favor of these new Core Components.

Content Tree

One of the biggest usability improvements for authors is the ‘Content Tree’ view. The Content Tree is found in the page editor UI, and it provides an outline view of all the components and their hierarchy on the page. It’s very easy to get lost in a page that is composed of several layers of components, especially when you are looking for a very specific one. The Content Tree should help authors find exactly what they are looking for quickly.

User Inbox

“Your Inbox” has been expanded to include a lot of interesting management and organizational functionality. Tasks can be created from the inbox and assigned to different users with an associated deadline date. Additionally, a new calendar view was created, so you can easily view when tasks have been scheduled or assigned, and when they are expected to be completed. This feature is not only useful for project managers; authors can assign each other tasks to review a page or operations teams can create tasks for maintenance items, and just so no one forgets… email notifications can be set up as reminders!

Publishing Management

A nice feature that has existed for a long time is the ability to schedule when a page would be published. This is often used for releasing a newsletter at midnight, without the need for an author to be online in the middle of the night. Unfortunately, there was never a way to perform this same action on multiple pages (or assets) at a time. Each page had to be scheduled individually. With AEM 6.3, you can perform publish actions on multiple pages (or assets) as a single action without the use of the “Activate Tree” functionality. An author simply needs to select the assets they want to publish (or schedule for publish later), and then select “Manage Publication”. The author will then be walked through a simple wizard type experience that gives them several options like when to publish.

Version Viewing Tool

Along with the other authoring and administrative improvements in this release, the Version Viewing Tool will also save a lot of headaches! Previously, when trying to compare different versions of a page to see what changed, authors had to rely on changes at a component by component level. Now in 6.3 there is a comprehensive tool for viewing all the changes on a page in one place. Similar to a code comparison tool, additions, modifications, and removals of content are all tracked and highlighted on the page in easily recognizable contrasting colors. Authors can now easily get a visual indication of what changed from version to version on a page, allowing them to quickly fix a mistake or pick up from where the previous author left off. Developers also get some help from here when they need to make modifications based on a small change that would otherwise be impossible to find.

More to Come!

AEM 6.3 offers some really great enhancements from previous versions. Head over to this post that uncovers some tips for upgrading to the latest version, and then stay tuned for a look at the new platform as a whole.
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Josh Neal is an Adobe Certified AEM Developer who has worked in several different enterprise software environments including PLM, CAD and WEM. With over 6 years of experience, he has mastered JAVA, C#, C++, Python and JavaScript. He develops both front and back end solutions for key enterprise clients. Josh enjoys participating in mud runs, spending time with his new wife, and exploring new destinations.