By Scott Gillis, Sitecore MVP
Sitecore once again bucks the trend and names the next release with a nine. (So all those really sweet Sitecore X shirts I had made get boxed up for a future day.) Just because we've only gone one level up doesn't mean that Sitecore 9 is any slacker of a release, as many of us saw sitting here in Las Vegas at #SitecoreSym.
Having seen a couple demoes now and the chance to play with the pre-release candidate (and having the NDA shackles lifted) here is what I'm most excited.
This is the feature I've been waiting for since Sitecore 7.5 with the introduction of xDB. Finally, a true read-write interface to customers xProfile data. The new API will allow for easier collecting and using of off-site points of contacts with a customer. I could see this interface open up possible to options for basic CRM functionality in the near future right in Sitecore.
WFFM funeral march has begun! WFFM will hang around for another version or so, but it is on the fast track into the sunset. With Sitecore 9, we have a brand-new, built-in, (yes that's right no module to hunt down and install) form builder. The builder is even better integrated in xProfile (thanks xConnect) as well as engagement plans. This should prove to be a bigger time saver when it comes to data collecting.
Sitecore has finally dropped the last dependency on Silverlight, that was probably in the wild. Automation plans have been given a wonderful HTML5 and JS overhaul which includes new and better touchpoints to forms as well as EXM. This new interface, mixed with xConnect's opening up of xProfile data I feel will drive more elaborate custom actions producing a better journey for the potential customer into a fully engaged customer.
I look forward to sharing in the excitement of Sitecore 9, and exploring the possibilities of what we can make happen.