Introduction to AMP and Sitecore

Performance of application is one of the important business KPI (Key Performance Indicators) which heavily contributes to the success of business.There are ways to improve the performance of the website like performing optimization, resources upgrade and etc.


Apart from traditional approaches to improve the performance, there is a lot of buzz and talk going on for AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages- powered by Google ) these days.

As per wikipedia– “The Accelerated Mobile Pages Project (AMP) is an open-source website publishing technology designed to improve the performance of web content and advertisements. The AMP Project led by Google is a competitor to Facebook’s Instant Articles,[1] and includes several other large search, social and web publishing platforms around the world.”

As part of this blog post– I would like to discuss if AMP can be leveraged for Sitecore applications, advantages and disadvantages and what are some key points to be considered before we plan to integrate AMP with Sitecore.

Advantages of AMP:

  • Speed and Performance-AMP provides a great user experience across many platforms
  • AMP complaint content always gets displayed first in search(organic search).
  • Increased mobile device site loading.
  • Boost in Ranking.
  • Reducing the page bounce rate and better conversions.


  • No custom JS/Plugins allowed, which can affect some of the execution efforts like Pagination, listing, search,etc..
  • All CSS in AMP Page should not be more than 50 KB.
  • Multiple Versions required (AMP and No-AMP).
  • Increased development time- Increases developer time in 2 times(AMP and Non AMP layouts).
  • Strict validation rules
  • Inline CSS styles.

To Consider:

Now, before we proceed for Integrating AMP with Sitecore, let’s check following:

  • Impact on Analytics and Sitecore Analytics?
  • How it affects the website functionality, like carousels, products and other features?
  • Impact on Personalization in Sitecore?
  • Do we need separate layout or can be managed with same default layout.

Though we know AMP is a performance booster, but it’s worth to check above points and do a analysis to understand the Integration.

Apart from just AMPiying your website another important factor is to analyze and understand what pages should be migrated to AMP like:

  • Home page
  • Landing pages and other top performing pages which contribute to the overall business.

Also, when when AMP should be served?- when user is trying to search contents from Google- via organic search(this is default behavior) or when user hit your page directly is a point of discussion and depends on business requirements, Let’s discuss above points as part of my next post on AMP.

Case Studies:

Here are some case studies are available and can be used as reference to understand it better.

I am very excited about AMP and it’s integration with Sitecore, i am pretty sure you guys are too?. I hope this give you a starting point and makes you think about AMP and how it can be leveraged with Sitecore.


Happy learning 🙂


Creating items into multiple locations using SPE

When we work with Multisite solution where in the same Sitecore instance we have different sites for different regions/country, or when we go with several micro sites configuration based on Master site, there are scenarios when we have to create new item(s) based on specific template(s) on all the sites that has been created as part of the instance.

There is absolutely no issue when we are dealing with few sites and pages, but how about when we have more sites? and what if we have to create more than one item under each site?

As a solution we can go to each site node and create the expected items manually, but this approach is going to take good amount of time to complete the full process.

Sitecore Powershell Extensions-1


Instead we can leverage Sitecore PowerShell Extensions (SPE) to perform this activity, this is much fast and one of the best approach to complete this operation.

For example– If we want to add two items based on two different templates on the same Sitecore Instance, you can use the following script for that and this will get the job done.

Get-Item master: -Query "/sitecore/content//*[@@templatename='Home Page']" | ForEach-Object {
$newpath= $_.FullPath
$item = New-Item $newpath -Name TestArticle -type "/sitecore/templates/User Defined/Sandbox/Article"
$item = New-Item $newpath -Name FAQ -type "/sitecore/templates/User Defined/Sandbox/FAQ"

Sitecore Powershell Extensions

In the above example what i have done is:

  1. Querying all the home nodes under /sitecore/content – based on “Home Page” template.
  2. Taking each home item as context and running “New-Item” SPE command to create an item based on template passed.
  3. As we are running two commands, two items will get created under each site.

Thanks to Michael West and Adam Najmanowicz for this great module.

Hope this is helpful and can save someone’s time who is trying to do something similar.

Happy learning 🙂




Sitecore Basics- Introduction to Personalization

The scope of this blog post is to give an idea about personalization in Sitecore, why it’s required and steps to create  and configure personalization for the components, this is for beginners who are trying to understand the concept and how it can be implemented.

Personalization enables you to deliver targeted content to your visitors. For example, you can implement rules that show personalized content to visitors based on their browsing behavior and their accumulated profile values.
This is really important as you don’t want to show something to users which really doesn’t makes any sense to them.


As an example- For an e-Commerce application as an business you want to show relevant information to users to get most of the conversions, this depends on number of factors, some of them includes:

  • User behavior
  • Location
  • Goals users have triggered.
  • Anonymous Vs Logged in users
  • Based on Subscription
  • Showing different banner images.

Sitecore XP lets you choose from several personalization approaches:

  1. Rules-based personalization: You define the conditions under which content is delivered to a customer. For example, you can set rules based on the IP address or physical location of your visitors, the keywords they use to reach your site, their mobile device, or the goals that they achieve on your website to determine the content that is displayed.
  2. Adaptive personalization- Use visitor profiles and pattern-card matching to dynamically adapt the content shown to visitors in real time. You can set adaptive personalization rules in Sitecore XP’s Rules Set Editor.
  3. Historical personalization: You can set rules that personalize content based on a contact’s historical or past behavior, rather than their actions from the current session (after all, context is what comes before and after the present).
  4. Test and then personalize: With Sitecore XP, you can use A/B and multivariate testing to assess your content and use the test results to optimize for conversion rates against your site’s goals. You can also use testing to assess which type of content works best with certain segments of your visitors.
  5. Journey-based personalization: Design user journeys with Sitecore XP using advanced business logic, and use them to help assess where your customers are in their journey with your brand. Then you can use triggers to advance them through their journeys in context of how far along they are.

We use Rule set editor ( ) to set the rules and action to perform and configure personalization for the individual components.

There are several out of the box categories which we can use to personalize the components, which includes:

  1. Campaigns
  2. Channels
  3. Date
  4. Device
  5. Fields
  6. GeoIP
  7. Tracking
  8. Visit and etc.

Personalizing the Component:

In order to personalize the component we have to make sure that the component which you are targeting to personalize should support datasource, this would help us in assigning different contents based on different criteria set.

Here are the steps to configure personalization for specific component(s):

  1. Select the component that you want to personalize, you can select the component either from presentation or from Experience editor.Personalization-1
  2. Select the component and click on Personalize button.
  3. Click on the “New Condition” button and add the rule which you want to add based on the requirement.
  4. Click on Edit button and add the rule.Personalization-2
  5. As an example- i am adding the rule which is based on field name compares to specific value.Personalization-3
  6. We can also define the default or fallback component datasource, if none of the conditions matches the default will be used.Personalization-4
  7. Once the configurations are done on the component, we can see an indicator in the presentation which shows that personalization has been applied to the specific rendering/component.Personalization-5
  8. We can personalize the component from experience editor as well.Personalization-6
  9. Now based on the condition which is added on the component, related content will be rendered else the default content will be displayed.


Custom Personalization:

There are certain scenarios where out of the box personalization which are available are not enough to handle the business scenarios, in those cases we have to think about creating custom personalization rules.

We need to create a class that inherits from Sitecore.Rules.Context and implement the Execute() method,and this is where all the business rule exits for the custom rule. We will be covering in a separate blog post about how to create custom personalization rule and applying it on the renderings.

Hope this helps.

Happy learning and wish you all a very Happy New Year 2018 🙂



Perform basic search with Sitecore

In this blog post I’ll be doing a introduction of the ContentSearch API found in Sitecore followed with a basic search example.
There are several articles which are available, but i will show a very simple working example of it.


ContentSearch API:

ContentSearch API acts like an abstraction over the low level details of search technologies like Lucene or Solr. Sitecore provides an API that can be used to work with Lucene or SOLR, there might be some changes between the two, but those will be just configuration changes.

Same code can be leveraged for Lucene or SOLR, this also helps and provides flexibility during Sitecore upgrade or switching the search providers, you will end up making configuration changes to match the version and you will be all set.

It depends on the business requirements what search provider best fits your needs, there is official documentation provided by Sitecore on Lucene Or SOLR-

Sample Search:

Here are the steps that are required to perform a simple search.

  1. Get the search index you want to use.
  2. Get the search context (which is also known as opening the connection) and
  3. Use the search context and perform queries.

Get the search index you want to use:

We need to get the index that we are going to use in the application, it can be out of the box indexes or custom indexes that we created, some of the indexes that can be referred are as follows:

  • sitecore_master_index
  • sitecore_web_index
  • sitecore_product_index (custom index)

We need to call GetIndex() method of ContentSearchManager class, which returns ISearchIndex instance.

ISearchIndex selectedIndex = ContentSearchManager.GetIndex(“sitecore_master_index”);

Once we have the index we can get other index details out of it, and can also perform operations like rebuilding of the index if required.

Get the search context:

This is more of opening a connection to search index, once we have the index available, next step is to create search context which allows us to perform search queries and operations against the selected index.
We create the search context using CreateSearchContext() method.

using (IProviderSearchContext context = selectedIndex.CreateSearchContext())


The search context is wrapped in using statement, so that it can be disposed when we are done performing the queries.

Perform queries:

Once we have the search context, it can be used to perform queries,
By using GetQueryable<T>() we can define our LINQ statements for filtering and getting the results.

using (IProviderSearchContext context = selectedIndex.CreateSearchContext())
var searchResults = context.GetQueryable<SearchResultItem>().Where(x => x.Content.Contains(“hello”));

By default the API will map to the SearchResultItem class for the result

This is a very basic example where we covered how get the index for search, create the context so that queries can be performed and finally using the context to perform the queries.

I hope this helps someone who is writing it’s first search code in Sitecore.

Happy learning 🙂

Please let me know your thoughts and feedback.


Sitecore Developer License-60 days free trial

Are you obsessed with Sitecore? but don’t have the playground to get started?

Don’t worry! Sitecore has made this easy for you now!!


Sitecore has come up with Developer Trial Program which gives you a 60-day trial license..

So, what you are waiting for?, go ahead and request for it now and learn about:

  1. Working with Sitecore APIs and the Helix framework.
  2. Sitecore development recommended practices and
  3. Implementation and extensibility of the Sitecore platform.

For more details on how to get started, please visit:

Welcome to the Sitecore world!



Sitecore security practices

Security is one of the very important considerations for any website.Today I want to share on how to make sure we keep site’s security in mind while implementing the solution, security is equally important as your build.


Following are few points which contribute in website security:

  • Change the administrator password : 
    • Sitecore recommends that we create a new administrator account, with a unique name, and delete the out-of-the-box administrator account.
    • Before you deploy your Sitecore installation, you must change the administrator password to a strong password.
    • Changing the password prevents unauthorized users from using the default password to access the admin account.
  • Enforce a strong password policy:
    • Sitecore leverages the Microsoft ASP.NET Membership Provider as the out-of-the-box user management system.
    • Sitecore recommends that you change the password policies to one that works for your organization.
  • Separate Content management and Content delivery Servers:
    • We should setup Separate content management and delivery servers, and content management server shouldn’t be internet facing.
    • If you have to expose your content management environment to the internet, you must:
      • Use HTTPS to secure the content management server.
      • Consider using IP Filtering to allow only whitelisted clients to connect to the Content Management environment.
  • Protect the connectionstrings section in the web.config file:
    • Sitecore stores sensitive information in the web.config file in the <connectionStrings> section.
    • You should encrypt the <connectionStrings> section to prevent this information from being exposed if the web.config file is accessed without authorization.
    • The Microsoft ASP.NET IIS Registration Tool (aspnet_regiis.exe) can be used to encrypt this section.
  • Separate Database server:
    • The CMS and database should be in two different servers.
  • Security rights on content item(s):
    • We should make sure that security rights has been configured for users and more specifically on roles, which users will be a part of.
    • Setting security rights on the  roles level helps administrators to change the configuration, if user moves to a different department, which all together has a different role.
  • Anonymous access to /data and /indexes folder:
    • We should make sure that data/indexes folder are not accessible to anonymous users(This prevents unwanted access to files), and it should be outside of website folder.

These are few of the things which we should take care while implementing/deploying Sitecore solution, this helps us in dealing with hacks and security breaches to some extent.


Happy learning 🙂





Sitecore items mass delete through serialization

In one of the Sitecore application i worked, we had to sync large amount of data from XML, XML had several thousands of records, there was also a business rule in place which used to check certain conditions/fields before it can be inserted as item in Sitecore.

We performed several tests in local environment, before that utility can be executed in QA and other high end environment, but in this process, we have to go back and delete all existing imported items several times.

This was a time consuming process, as deleting several thousand items in Sitecore, can make your Sitecore instance slow, so, we used Sitecore Serialization to delete the items in bulk.


The Sitecore serialization functionality is designed to help teams of developers that
work on the same Sitecore solution to synchronize database changes between their
individual development environments, but is also valuable when a single developer
works on a solution.

Serialization allows you to serialize an entire Sitecore database or a series of items in
a database to text files. You can then use these text files to transfer this database or
series of items to another database or Sitecore solution.

This is particularly helpful when we use Sitecore Item buckets to structure all our content items.

Serialization option can be enabled from “Developer” ribbon.


In this example, I have created a folder called “Generic Items” and added few items under it.


Follow the following steps to bulk delete the items:

  • Select the folder whose child items you want to delete, in this case, it’s “Generic Items” folder.
  • In next step, from “Developer” ribbon, click on “Serialize tree” link, this will serialize selected item and child items.
  • Serialization process will start and, it will create .item file for Generic Items folder and all child items under it.
  • Sitecore will store the .item files in data\serialization folder- in my case it’s Data\serialization\master\sitecore\content\Helix\Home\Test Eventsserialize-s2
  • Let’s assume we want to delete all items of “Generic Items” folder, delete the .item files from file system.
  • Once .items files are deleted, go back to Sitecore and from Developer ribbon click on “Revert tree” link.
  • Sitecore will start synching your items back from file system.Serialization-Sync
  • Once the process end, refresh your “Generic Items” folder, and you won’t find any child items there.
  • Sitecore serialization can delete several thousand of items in just few mins, which is way faster then manually deleting the items, which affects performance as well.

This can reduce your development and testing time, when working with large amount of data.

Please let me know if you have any questions, or want to share thoughts around this.

Happy learning 🙂



fixing end of string expected at position error in Sitecore

Recently while verifying some of the components in Experience Editor, I observed that while adding datasource to the renderings, it was throwing “End of string expected at position 75” error.

I checked following things to troubleshoot the issue:

  1. If Datasource location specified in the rendering exists or not, and it exists.
  2. If Datasource template is defined in rendering or not, and it was there.
  3. Check the errors in log file, and there was an error there, please see the below screen shot what error it was.log
  4. Following error was visible in front end while adding datasource.end-of-string-error


It turns out Sitecore doesn’t like hyphens “-” in query path, and few other which includes:

  1. If you query contains keyword “and
  2. If query contains keyword “or
  3. If query contains hyphen “

In my case when i checked the query and it contains keyword “and“, which was basically failing and not allowing me to add  datasource from Experience editor.


In order to fix this issue we can add escape character “#” before and after of the items that contains any of these keywords or hyphen “-“, so, for example:

Before : query:./ancestor::*[@@templatename=’SitecoreRoot’]/Global//Modules/Image and Media Module

After : query:./ancestor::*[@@templatename=’SitecoreRoot’]/Global//Modules/#Image and Media Module#

After making this change, the issue was fixed.

It seems this issue was there in Sitecore 6, but it can be replicated in Sitecore 8.1 (rev 160302) as well.

I have raised this with Sitecore support team, and they have registered this as Wish/Feature, so, we may see this issue resolved in coming product versions.

I hope this helps somebody.

Happy learning 🙂



Test changes without publishing to web DB in Sitecore

In your development environment, did you ever felt that publishing is not providing a great value, but acting like a hindrance?


In Sitecore you can directly test your changes without publishing your changes to web DB, and configure Sitecore to use content from master DB.
This can be done in two ways:

  1. If you don’t have any custom Site configuration config file exist, please go to App_Config/Include/LiveMode.config.example file and rename it to LiveMode.config or
  2. If you have custom Site configuration file exists, you can change the database value to “master” from “web”.

Please make sure to revert your changes, before deploying the solution to QA or production environment.

Happy learning 🙂



Securing Sitecore connection strings

There are scenarios where we don’t want to compromise with the security of our application resources, this includes Connectionstring.config file as example, If someone compromised CD servers, they will have access to Connection string file and can use the details in a wrong way.

There are ways we can secure the connection string in Sitecore, in this blog post I would like to give an example of one of the approach which can be used:

Please see the sample code snippet, to encrypt and decrypt  connection string file.

Configuration config = WebConfigurationManager.OpenWebConfiguration(“~”);

// Get the connectionStrings section.
ConnectionStringsSection section = config.GetSection(“connectionStrings”) as ConnectionStringsSection;
if (section.SectionInformation.IsProtected)
// Save changes to the Web.config file.

Few points to note and consider:

  • This approach uses System.Web.Configuration namespace to work.
  • We access application’s web.config file via OpenWebConfiguration method.
  • We access connectionStrings section of the web.config file via GetSection method.
  • Encrypt and decrypt the sections.
  • Save the changes.

This is how the connection string.config file looks before encryption:

<?xml version=”1.0″ encoding=”utf-8″?>
Sitecore connection strings.
All database connections for Sitecore are configured here.
<add name=”core” connectionString=”user id=user;password=password;Data Source=(server);Database=Sitecore_Core” />
<add name=”master” connectionString=”user id=user;password=password;Data Source=(server);Database=Sitecore_Master” />
<add name=”web” connectionString=”user id=user;password=password;Data Source=(server);Database=Sitecore_Web” />
<add name=”analytics” connectionString=”mongodb://localhost/analytics” />
<add name=”” connectionString=”mongodb://localhost/tracking_live” />
<add name=”tracking.history” connectionString=”mongodb://localhost/tracking_history” />
<add name=”” connectionString=”mongodb://localhost/tracking_contact” />
<add name=”reporting” connectionString=”user id=user;password=password;Data Source=(server);Database=Sitecore_Analytics” />

After encryption, this is how the file looks:

<?xml version=”1.0″ encoding=”utf-8″?>
<connectionStrings configProtectionProvider=”DataProtectionConfigurationProvider”>

If we want to decrypt the section, we can use UnprotectSection()  and can review the connections, once we are good we can again encrypt the setting using ProtectSection() method.

We can also secure the setting using aspnet_regiis.exe tool.

I hope this helps someone, who is looking for something similar, please let me know for any questions on this, happy to discuss more.

Happy learning 🙂