Posted by Peter Curran
In October 2015, Oracle released a new version of its E-Commerce software suite, Oracle Commerce 11.2. I want to give an in-depth look at the new Oracle Commerce Guided Search (better known as Endeca) features in 11.2 , but first here is a high-level summary of what’s changed in this release:
While many other features of Endeca have remained the same, the updates in this version of Endeca will be most noticeable to business users. This particular update addresses a lot of the complaints from customers who spend a lot of time working in Experience Manager or have multiple sites to manage on a single MDEX.
Let’s dive in take a closer look at some of these changes in Endeca 11.2.
In 11.2, Oracle has finally added keyword redirect groups. Each redirect group has its own set of redirects completely independent from other groups. For a multi-site implementation, this would mean a single redirect group per site.
This is the main new feature of Experience Manager’s multi-site framework, but business users may find the other Experience Manager improvements below particularly useful in managing multiple sites as well.
Similar to the BCC in ATG, Experience Manager now has the concept of projects. A project is basically just a working copy of your Experience Manager site which can be edited by multiple users before publishing to the live site. This allows for multiple people to make changes to your Experience Manager sites and publish them at different times. By adding this capability, business users now have a way to save their changes incrementally and their changes will only appear on the live site once
No more “all or nothing” publishing, which we’re particularly excited about.
Experience Manager projects also include tracking of unpublished changes. No more guessing on what has been edited before promoting your Experience Manager changes to production.
As far as multiple users are concerned, multiple people can work on a single Experience Manager project and multiple projects can be running at the same time. This can cause merge conflicts when projects are published, but Experience Manager now notifies users of any conflicts before they go to publish their project.
For example, let’s say you have a “Winter Holiday” project running which changes the promotional banners on the /browse page and a “Canon Promotion” project which also changes the banner on the /browse page. If the “Canon Promotion” project gets published, the “Winter Holiday” project becomes out of sync. Now, Experience Manager will provide messaging to a business user trying to publish the “Winter Holiday” project that their project is going to overwrite published changes from another project which occurred after the projects were created.
These new updates to Experience Manager are a big step in the right direction. They are especially helpful for managing multiple groups of users working on multiple sites and improving the Experience Manager workflow overall. In the future, we’d like to see version control and the ability to revert changes, as well as better merge conflict resolution.
This latest version of Experience Manager also incorporates a few new UI changes. There are now three tabs on the left side of Experience Manager for:
There is also interactive editing in preview mode with the addition of a manifest pane which shows the current cartridge configurations for the page. This means less context switching and no more jumping between preview and the Experience Manager configuration for a page. Preview is now a one-stop shop where you can:
As a final note, Experience Manager still runs off of Adobe Flash/Flex, meaning that building custom editors is still a non-trivial process. In future releases, we’d like to see a full conversion to HTML5/JS to enable custom editor development to meet customer needs. Still, this latest version provides a nice face lift to Experience Manager with a great project management features to match.
Oracle has improved the MDEX by adding language processing support for a handful of new languages/locales including:
Oracle has also made improvements to language processing for the already supported languages based on customer feedback from multiple Oracle products. However, we do know is that OLT (Oracle Language Technology) still does not support wildcard search, meaning typeahead for an OLT-enabled language still requires an MDEX with Latin-1 language analysis. We hope to see this feature added soon to OLT.
More technical users working with Endeca probably won’t notice much changing in this release, but there are a few gotchas:
Other than that, this release is very similar to previous releases from a technical standpoint and most noticeable changes are on the business user side.
All in all, Oracle Commerce 11.2 provides a handful of new tools to address many common business user concerns with managing Endeca Workbench and Experience Manager. This release really focuses on empowering business users as opposed to technical changes on the backend. The improvements to the multi-site framework and Experience Manager provide a more robust merchandising solution for both current Endeca customers and those looking to implement it.