Category: Author Experience

Providing access to non-explicit fields in Sitecore’s Experience Editor

Providing access to non-explicit fields in Sitecore’s Experience Editor

One of the most common issues I’ve come across during author experience audits for Sitecore clients is that they do a lot of context switching between Content Editor (where you edit all form fields on a data template) and Experience Editor (where you can author and design content inline). There is a tremendous amount of time wasted in moving back and forth between modes to complete an author’s objective.

There are a couple of reasons for this. In many cases, editing inline is a fairly new concept and authoring teams are not investing as much in the setup and implementation of clean architecture in Experience Editor as they are in Content Editor. But even when they have, there are still some impediments to being able to fully complete their tasks in a single mode. Some values that require management are just not explicit on the page. While some images and text may be edited directly inline, there will always be things that aren’t. These include…

  • Alternate fields beyond the one displayed (e.g. Short Title for navigation purposes)
  • Meta details like description
  • Navigation options (e.g. Suppress in Navigation)
  • Taxonomy values (e.g. Topics, Locations, People)

Left as is authors have no choice but to bounce between the two modes. So what can we do about it?

  1. Install a custom “chunk” in the ribbon of Experience Editor that allows access to non-explicit, page-level values without having to return to Content Editor (e.g Page Options, Navigation Options, Taxonomy).2017-10-13_12-30-02
  2. Each button represents a custom collection of fields that will launch in a modal, allowing you to focus on just the relevant fields for that grouping and make the necessary changes.2017-10-13_12-32-41
  3. Likewise, every component should be configured to consistently allow access to non-explicit field values and rendering parameters that affect display.

Doing this requires a bit of upfront planning as you are defining the data structure of your pages and components to consider what field values might be inaccessible from the inline editing experience, but it will surely save time and improve the inline editing experience.


How to allow access to Dictionary in Sitecore Content Editor tray

How to allow access to Dictionary in Sitecore Content Editor tray

Two key principles of ensuring a strong authoring experience in a CMS is (1) reducing the amount of time it takes to find something and (2) allowing authors to focus on content rather than being distracted by the CMS.

Many of clients make extensive use of a Dictionary of editable values for chrome content such as field titles, button text, and other elements that don’t require frequent edits but should not necessarily be hardcoded.  However, in a Sitecore workflow-enabled environment, non-admins will often not have access the System folder where Dictionary natively resides. While it may be updated less frequently, Dictionary content is content just the same. It should not require drilling through a tree structure to find it. It is possible to expose the “Dictionary” in the Content Editor tray alongside “Media Library” and “Workbox” so that authors may easily access and update Dictionary item values as necessary.


Sitecore Content Editing Hacks - Dictionary 1


Sitecore Content Editing Hacks - Dictionary 2

Steps for Adding the Dictionary to the Content Editor Tray:

  1. Login as an Admin and access the Sitecore Desktop.
  2. Click on the Database icon at the bottom right and select ‘Core’ database.Sitecore Content Editing Hacks - Dictionary 3
  3. Return to the Content Editor and navigate to sitecore\content\Applications\Content Editor\Applications. These are the default items that you would normally see here – Content Editor, Media Library, and Workbox.
  4. Add an item to represent your new “tab” in the tray.
  5. Name it “Dictionary” and set the following values:
    1. Header = Dictionary
    2. Source = /sitecore/shell/Applications/Content Manager/Default.aspx?mo=media&ro=/sitecore/system/Dictionary&he=Dictionary&ic=People/16×16/book_red.png

Sitecore Content Editing Hacks - Dictionary 4

Tip: Don’t forget to add (or ask your developer to add) these configuration changes to the core project for propagation to each environment.