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What’s new in November and December 2017

With all the year-end activities, I didn’t quite manage to make a post about what we have shipped in November 2017. Hence I have combined it with December’s updates to cover what we shipped in November and December 2017. There have been a lot of useful enhancements, many of them for Watson Content Hub Standard Edition users. There are also a number of foundational enhancements for features that we’ll enable in 2018, so there’s a lot going on. And as always, we’ve also deployed a selection of new fixes and smaller updates, building on what we shipped in January, February, March, April, May/June July, August and September and October.

 

Note that, due to a change freeze in the holiday period, a few of these changes might not be fully enabled until early January.

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I value your comments and feedback – you can reach me by email david.strachan@uk.ibm.com, Twitter @circularlizard, or on LinkedIn.

 

New product options

We have released new optional extras for Watson Content Hub, which are described below.

WCH Standard Edition non-prod environment

The Standard Edition non-production environment is a staging instance of WCH Standard Edition. It is for Standard Edition customers who need additional instances of WCH to support non-production usage, for example test environments. It costs less than the regular Standard Edition offering, and has all of the features except custom host name and global authoring.

Adoption services for Watson Content Hub

We have introduced two options for adoption services, purchasable via Passport Advantage. These remotely delivered services are to provide customers with assistance setting up their content model, and familiarising themselves with Watson Content Hub capabilities.

 

Authoring UI improvements

Many of the enhancements provided in this period are most visible through the authoring UI.

Global Scheduled Publish

It is now possible to schedule when content is published. With our rich scheduler, customers can create individual and repeating events. When the content author selects to publish a content item, they are now able to choose whether to publish immediately or at the next scheduled event. In due course this will be extended to include further scheduling options.

WCH Scheduler
Click to view

 

Inline edit

With the latest version of the Oslo application, inline edit is now available for text, formatted text and modified text. In due course inline editing will be extended to other content types. The screenshot shows editing a simple text element.

WCH inline edit
Click to view

 

Selection element

Now you can define a content element that has a list of selection options. Previously, to do this you had to use a category which is sometimes not always desirable. With the selection element, you can now define a selector that is not shared between content types. The screenshot shows the options configuration panel for the element type.

WCH selection element
Click to view

Index content elements

Previously, Watson Content Hub only indexed content meta-data. now it is possible to index the values of content elements themselves. In the content type editor, authors can choose which elements are indexed. Only a certain number can be indexed in any given Watson Content Hub account, shown by the set number of values in the search key drop down. With this capability, you can now leverage WCH rich search capabilities against the text, numerical value, location or other value of a content element.

WCH index content element
Click to view

Bulk delete

Now you can delete content items and assets from the list view. You can select more than one item at once and choose to either publish or delete it. Based on the items you select, WCH will either delete the items or warn you if there are unresolved dependencies. The first screenshot shows the deletion option and the second shows the dependency resolution.

WCH Bulk Delete
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WCH - Bulk delete confirm
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Commenting enhancements

We have improved commenting with several new features. Now you can edit a comment that you have created, and mark a comment ‘resolved’ once you have dealt with whatever action it requires.

Site search in Oslo application

The site search APIs are now leveraged by the Oslo application to provide an example of a site search capability.

Hide page from navigation

We have introduced an option that allows you to define a page that is not shown in the site navigation. This is useful for pages that you desire to access only via URL, for example a landing page.

 

 

Developer experience & API enhancements

Developer experience is a very important part of Watson Content Hub. We have made a number of enhancements to our command line tool and APIs, which are described below.

Command Line enhancements

The Command Line Interface for Watson Content Hub, wchtools, is available on public GitHub at https://github.com/ibm-wch/wchtools-cli. There are two major enhancements for wchtools in this period:

  • Support for federated IDs. Federated IDs are ones where we delegate authentication to another system, so customers can sign on with their corporate credentials. Wchtools now supports federated ID as described here https://www.ibm.com/support/knowledgecenter/en/SS3UMF/dch/admin/apikey_auth_admin.html
  • Greatly extended deletion support. We have added support for a wide range of deletion options to wchtools, including synchronising deletions from the server to your local copy. A wide range of deletion options are available such as delete all, delete items by type, tag, name, id or path.

We also have a content conversion utility, which support conversion from WCM to WCH and is extensible to support transformations from other systems. This is downloadable from https://github.com/ibm-wch/wchconvert-cli and more information is available here https://developer.ibm.com/customer-engagement/2017/05/10/introducing-wchconvert/. In this period, we have made a number of enhancements to the wchconvert utility to improve its coverage and reliability.

UI for web assets

We have added a UI to browse web assets. This is not currently available from the product navigation, but can be accessed via this URL: https://www.digitalexperience.ibm.com/#/Authoring/Content/All-Web-Assets . The view is read-only and features the same list and card views as the main content interfaces, as well as search type-ahead.

WCH Web Assets UI
Click to view

Angular development utilities

We have added a set of utilities for developers who want to create a new website from scratch, using the Angular 4 framework. These are all available in the public GitHub. The following packages were released:

  • ibmwchsdk-ng-cli: set of command line tools to assist Fernando during application development (NPM module)
  • ibmwchsdk-ng-logger: plug the popular ng2-logger into your application for a nice and customizable logging experience (NPM module)
  • ibmwchsdk-ng-rendition: directives to find the best matching image rendition for your application. The module scales the renditions on the Akamai layer (server side) such that they are delivered in optimal quality / bandwidth (NPM module)
  • ibmwchsdk-ng-format: directives to render message text (stored in WCH) with dynamic placeholders using correct pluralization and gender support (NPM module)
  • ibmwcksdk-ng-vc: extensions for the Visual Studio Code editor, such as code completion for WCH markup fragments, commands to add layouts and to create new projects

Delivery Render API

The Delivery Render API is a new API that provides information to render content and pages in client-side applications. It allows an application retrieve pages, content that corresponds to the navigational state of the application. The API implements “Backend For Frontend” pattern (BFF) – all the information is available elsewhere but this  API optimizes the client/server interaction. This enables customers to build a completely customised site. Our out of the box site template uses Angular, but we have also provided React and Vue samples, and this API enables a customer to use whatever framework they need.

New samples

We have released 6 new samples for Watson Content Hub, all accessible via our samples gallery. The new samples are listed below.

Sample: Active site Components
Sample site components for the Watson Content Hub starter site template (“Oslo”). This include Youtube video integration, a charting sample, and an IFrame component. It demonstrates simple application integration concepts with WCH
Sample: Additional layout templates
Sample layout components for use with the Watson Content Hub starter site template (“Oslo”) and the sample-article-content package. These extend the range of layouts available for use with WCH
Sample: Web Components implementation
A sample showing how to use a web component with a WCH site application. The example shown is a simple weather component showing temperature for the configured geolocation. This demonstrates simple application integration concepts using Web Components in WCH
Sample: Oslo site template
Oslo is a responsive sample website that illustrates what you can create by using Watson Content Hub. You can use it as a starting point for customizing your own website. It’s pre-installed in all WCH trials and WCH Standard Edition deployments. This sample contains the source code for that site, and demonstrates how to use WCH to build a single-page application.
Sample: React and Vue site templates
Two samples of a Single Page Application built with the React and Vue frameworks, using the Watson Content Hub “Oslo” sample content. It demonstrates how to use frameworks other than Angular with WCH.
Sample: e-Commerce Storefront SPA
A storefront sample using WCH site functionality with WebSphere Commerce services. It demonstrates how to leverage headless commerce services within a WCH single-page application.

WCM DAM plugin for WCH

As part of CF15 for IBM Digital Experience Manager (DXM), we have provided a plugin that enables WCH to function as a digital asset manager. With this integration, it is possible to select images from WCH wherever in DXM you select an image. In the screenshot, we see an editor using inline edit features to select an image from WCH.

WCH - WCM DAM Integration
Click to view
WCH WCM DAM Palette integration
Click to view

Other enhancements

European data centre. European/MEA tenants (trial and paid) are now deployed to European data centre location.

Updated what’s new experience. Via the help menu, we provide a view of what’s new in the product.

General fixes and enhancements. In addition to everything else, we have the usual ongoing fixes and enhancements.

You can sign up for a free trial too, by going to our page on IBM Marketplace. Other technical information is available on this Developer Center site, which is organized into sections about managing and publishing content.

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