In our previous Sitecore 9 post, we talked about the slight tweaks introduced to Sitecore 9 update 2. All the enhancements have led to Sitecore’s pending autumn release of Sitecore version 9.1.

Introduced at the Sitecore Symposium in Orlando, Florida, which we attended, Sitecore 9.1 has some exciting new feature/functions.

In addition to key platform and infrastructure enhancements, Sitecore 9.1 focuses on four key areas: Sitecore Identity, Sitecore Host, Sitecore JavaScript Services (JSS) and an enhanced Sitecore Accelerator Framework (SxA).

Sitecore Identity

The first thing of note is that version 9.1 has a new login screen with a Federated Authentication service, enabling Single Sign-On (SSO) across Sitecore Experience Manager, Sitecore Commerce, and Horizon (the new UI).

Sitecore Host

Sitecore Host handles aspects of a service or app not directly linked to functionality, for example, logging, configuration, and plug-in loading.

By handling these aspects, Sitecore Host ensures that services and apps have a uniform deployment, allowing them to have a lean common run-time.

Sitecore JavaScript Services (JSS)

After four releases, a successful preview program and valuable feedback from the Sitecore community Sitecore JSS appears to be a mainstay in this and future Sitecore releases.

A powerful open source Software Development Kit (SDK), Sitecore JSS enables front-end developers to work their magic on any platform without the need to have a Sitecore instance installed locally.

Due to Sitecore's 'headless-ness', Sitecore JSS enables developers to build solutions using Sitecore and JavaScript. This allows them to deploy to any platform in a headless configuration, without compromising the full Sitecore Experience Platform capabilities.

Sitecore Accelerator Framework (SxA)

First introduced in 2016, SxA allows marketers to get content out more quickly and efficiently.

It allows content teams to design, build, and deploy content on an omni-channel level, with fewer development resources than would normally be experienced.

With accessibility becoming commonplace on websites, Sitecore’s SxA focuses on Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG), with this latest release featuring some key accessibility features:

  • Validates that pages with out-of-the-box (OOTB) mark-up are accessible by users of screen readers
  • Ensures components can be configured for people with disabilities
  • Populates, by default, the image “Alt” field so that it that can be read by screen readers
  • Provides large clickable actions for people with motor disabilities
  • Provides guidelines to designers and authors

Other key enhancements in Sitecore 9.1 include:

  • .NET Framework, Newtonsoft. JSON, Telerik, and Solr.Net. updates
  • Content search improvements to native indexing of Word and PDF files available in Azure and OnPrem 
  • Support of Solr 7.2.1
  • Helix enhancements, including the addition of Foundation, Feature, Project folders to the content tree
  • Sitecore Helix configuration patch folders
  • Item inheritance enhancements
  • Content delivery enhancements
  • Experience Management-related functionality without xDB and Analytics
  • Bug fixes and enhancements to the Forms interface (pre-filling of form fields and the ability to add conditions to forms)

Sitecore 9.1 offers robust and secure functionality with a breadth of new features and enhancements. Coupled with Sitecore Cortex machine learning and xConnect, Sitecore 9.1 is leading the way in headless CMSs.

Want to see Sitecore 9 in action?

We've been working on websites built on Sitecore 9 for our customers all year, and even our own website is built on it, and on Azure PaaS no less.

With mainstream support for Sitecore 8.1 coming to an end in December, we’d be happy to show you around Sitecore 9, what's new, and talk about why you should consider an upgrade, and how you can simplify your architecture and deployment procedures – just get in touch.