Wednesday, March 14, 2012

10 best kept secrets of Magnolia CMS 4.5

This week we have released Magnolia CMS 4.5. It has been 14 month in the making, and it has been quite an interesting time for Magnolia. From a product management perspective, Magnolia 4.5 was needed to ensure we have all the core technology in place before we tackle the big V – where we will provide a new user experience and more which is beyond this article. So while we worked on 4.5 we also added a few niceties like mobile preview and multi channel management. And amongst all the big features in 4.5, some goodies might have skipped your attention, even though they might rightly be your favorite new aspect of Magnolia 4.5 So here we go with 10 things you might have missed about Magnolia 4.5.



STK now shipped with CE
A big one. Our Standard Templating Kit has been a huge success for our partners and customers, as it significantly speeds up project development, reduces project risk, standardizes the way how a Magnolia site is constructed and maintained, and provides a ton of out-of-the-box templates as well as a static prototype to allow projects to separate and parallelize project development. In short, it is a magic box of wonders that is unique to Magnolia. Due to license restrictions, CE users had to download STK manually and were obliged to display a banner and link back to Magnolia. This is no longer the case, we have updated the STK license to be aligned with the rest of Magnolia CE. This way we now ship the community edition with the standard templating kit and hope you will start using it with your next project. You will never look back.

Secure Activation
Magnolia's unique architecture of having one author system and a number of public systems for security, flexibility and performance reasons means that content needs to be pushed from an author instance to public instances. In the past that meant any user who should be allows to activate content (i.e. publish) needed to be present on the public servers.

Needless to say that this could be a potential security concern. If a user/password gets compromised, content can be changed on public servers unless they are otherwise protected. Since Magnolia 4.5 we use a new secure activation mechanism that uses public-key cryptography to communicate between servers and allows us to store hashes of passwords instead of encrypted passwords. Now, activation no longer authenticates content activation using user credentials, which means you don't need to store such credentials on the public instances. So even if a public (or author) server would get compromised, passwords would not be found.

Imaging Module now available for Community Edition
When we originally released the imaging module, it was for Enterprise customers only. The imaging module allows for automatic resizing and cropping as well as other manipulations and is a huge time saver as all image variations are created from a single source image on the fly. With 4.5, you no longer have to manually create image variations as a community edition user.  

Categorization Module now available for Community Edition
Similar to the imaging module, the Categorization Module was EE only until now. Categorization is a really useful and powerful way to structure content and can be used e.g. for facetted navigation. Now available for all!

Commenting Module now available for Community Edition
When we introduced commenting, CE was shipped only with the ability to connect to a public commenting service. Enterprise Customers had the option to use Magnolia  directly for the comments, and in this way ensure that they have the rights to user-generated content (something the public services would not grant you). Now everybody can use Magnolia directly to store comments.

Blossom 2.0
Blossom, the world's best Spring-CMS integration framework has been rewritten to reflect all the things we learned in the last four years working with it, and now supports the newest templating concepts like areas directly via annotations in Spring. If you prefer coding to configuration have a look at how simple it is to add custom dialogs, page components, areas, templates and business logic to Magnolia CMS using Blossom.

Inversion of Control
For those inclined to add custom functionality or replace parts of Magnolia, we have introduced IoC with the Guice framework. If you know what that means, you must be happy now. If you think of the International Olympic Committee when reading IoC, safely ignore this new feature.

HTML 5 Forms support
Amongst other HTML 5 goodies like native video support, we now also have native forms support. See it in action on our demo site. HTML 5 form support has a host of benefits,  including CSS3 styling, browser-based validation, and semantics.

Support for ARIA landmarks
ARIA landmarks are used in HTML5 to markup regions of a page to support the navigation of content with assistive devices. Since we already have areas as part of our templating concepts in Magnolia, making them ARIA-conform was a small step for us, but a huge benefit for accessibility. There is nothing you have to do extra. Just use STK to build your projects. But you already knew that STK is your friend, right?

Keyboard Support for Preview
Last but not least, one of my favorite new features: Use the ESC key to toggle between preview and edit mode in the new page editor. Since 4.5 you can in many cases no longer navigate in editing mode, so the switch to preview mode is all the more important. Using the ESC key to toggle makes it easy to use your mouse for navigation and your left hand to toggle. (Sorry for the lefties out there, though).

So this concludes my list of the 10 best kept secrets of Magnolia 4.5 for now. What are your favorites that I did not mention?