Release Note 2nd May 2018-

Preview Edition, production enhancements, Content rendering service updates

The latest version of Dynamic Content includes a preview edition feature that allows you to preview a work in progress edition and make use of advanced content preview features, all without having to schedule the edition. This helps to enhance your workflow and makes it easier to view how the edition will look on a website or app at a chosen point in time.

We've also made a number of small, but important changes to the user interface in the production view, including persisting searches and sort order and adding a collapse/expand all feature to make it easier to work with properties in the content editing form.

There have also been some updates to the content rendering service.

Preview edition

The preview edition feature allows users to render the contents of an edition in a preview app, without first having to schedule the edition. This allows you to see how an edition will be displayed on a web site home page or within an app to help ensure the content looks exactly the way you want before you schedule it to go live.

Two types of preview are available: quick preview and date/time preview.

To open a quick preview, click the preview button at the top right of the edition window. A dialog will be displayed allowing you to choose the app within which the preview will be displayed.

A quick preview will display content of the slots in the edition alongside published content from the rest of the site or app.

Opening a quick preview
Opening a quick preview

A date/time preview works like the existing preview feature, but the edition does not have to be scheduled. However it does have to be "promoted" to the preview environment. The edition is previewed alongside other promoted, scheduled or published content.

Promoting the edition to a preview environment
Promoting the edition to a preview environment

To find out more about the preview edition feature go to the preview edition page or expand the section below.

Preview edition

Being able to preview your website, app or other channel, at any selected date and time in the future, is a very powerful feature. However, one drawback of the way this feature worked in previous releases was that in order to preview an edition, you first had to schedule it. Once an edition is scheduled, it is locked and cannot be edited until it's unscheduled, something which can become inconvenient if you want to keep making changes.

In this release we've added an edition preview feature that lets you preview your work in progress without having to schedule the edition. You can preview an edition in two ways:

  • A quick preview that shows how the slots in the edition will be rendered on your website or app and displays this edition alongside currently published content. Quick preview is designed to make it easy to preview work in progress, even if you haven't finished populating all the edition's slots.

  • The edition can also be 'promoted' to a preview environment and displayed alongside other scheduled or promoted content, so you know exactly what your chosen channel will look like on a chosen date and time. This works in the same way as the current preview feature, except that the edition does not need to be scheduled.

When you promote an edition to the preview environment, you are making its content available for other users to view, whereas a quick preview is transitory and can only be viewed by the user working on the edition.

We'll use a simple example to explain the new preview features in more detail.

Here's the content currently published to a home page. It just consists of two banners promoting a Spring collection.

Published home page content
Published home page content

We have created an event for a Spring sale, containing two editions: one called "Spring sale now on" and a summer collection edition that will contain a single slot with a banner advertising the summer collection.

The spring sale edition is scheduled, while the summer collection edition is a work in progress and is still in draft mode.

The Spring sale event
The Spring sale event

The scheduled edition contains a spring sale now on banner, targetting the home page. We're happy with this banner, so we've scheduled it and if we to choose the content preview after this edition's start date, then the content from this edition would be included.

The Spring sale now on edition is scheduled
The Spring sale now on edition is scheduled

The summer collection banner edition has a start date of 3 days later and is intended to publish a banner underneath the sale banner on the home screen with "get ready for summer" text.

The summer collection edition in draft mode

Quick preview

We want to preview this edition as a work in progress and see how it will appear on the home page. However we don't want to schedule it yet, so we use the new quick preview feature.

Click the Preview button at the top right of the edition window and choose the app you want to use for the preview. In this example we're using an app that previews a website, but it works equally well when previewing the edition in a mobile app for example.

Notice that the date/time preview is not available. Quick preview is designed just to focus on the contents of this edition.

Launching the quick preview

The preview app is opened and renders the content of the the slots in this edition. In this case we have just one slot containing the "get ready for summer" banner. This is a quick preview, with the edition displayed alongside the published content currently on the website. The content from the "spring sale now on" edition is not included in the preview since the edition has been scheduled, but is not yet published.

The edition content is rendered alongside published content

Promote to preview

If we want to preview the edition alongside the other scheduled content, we can "promote" the edition to the preview environment.

From the schedule menu choose "Promote to preview".

Promoting the edition to the preview environment

Now when we click the "Preview" button, the Date/Time preview is available. This is the usual preview feature allowing us to choose a date and time and an app to preview the content.

Choosing the date and time at which to preview

The content from our edition is now displayed alongside the scheduled content from the spring sale now on edition, without us needing to schedule it.

The edition is rendered alongside the scheduled Spring sale edition

Updating the preview

If we make a change to the edition, such as adding or deleting slots or the content within them, then if choose Preview again, a message will be displayed telling you that the version of the edition that you promoted to the preview environment is out of date.

Preview out of date warning

To update it, choose "Update preview" from the Schedule menu. Now when you preview the content, the updated edition will be previewed.

You may also choose to remove the edition from the preview environment, so it will no longer be displayed alongside other editions that have been promoted to the preview environment, scheduled or gone live.

Updating the preview

In this example we just showed an edition containing a single slot, but in most cases your editions will contain several slots containing many items of content.

The preview will be displayed for every valid slot within the edition, even if a slot is empty. If a slot is not valid, for example it must contain content of a certain type and cannot be empty, then a message will be displayed in the preview dialog warning you that only 3 out of 4 slots, for example, can be previewed. The contents of the invalid slot will be ignored.

Previewing 3 slots including one that's empty

Production user interface enhancements

We've made a number of improvements to make it easier to work create, edit and organise your content.

Expand/collapse all content properties

If a content type contains more than one collapsable section, then an collapse all/ expand all setting is shown at the top of the content editing window. By collapsing all properties in a complex form, you can quickly navigate to and edit a particular property.

Here's an image block type with a number of property sections expanded.

Content with a lot of expanded sections

Clicking "collapse all" will collapse all these sections, making it easier to navigate to the one you need.

Collapse all properties

Media folder setting

When choosing assets such as images or video from the media library, the media folder will now default to the one previously selected. In the example below, assets are retrieved from the "fashion images" folder. This will be the folder chosen by default the next time the media library is opened.

Remembering the media folder

Search and sort improvements

Search queries in the Content Library now persist until they are cleared. So you can switch between folders and repositories or open and close the content editing window and the search will remain active. However, the search is cleared when you move to the planning or development views.

When you choose a content sort order this will persist until you log out.

Content rendering service enhancements

The content rendering service is designed to make it easier for developers to convert slots and content items retrieved from Dynamic Content into HTML that can then be consumed on a website, in an app or served from an e-commerce system. This release includes some enhancements to the service.

Support for the markdown handlebars helper

The markdown handlebars helper is now supported, making it easier for developers to convert text entered by users in markdown format, such as in a blog content item, to HTML.

Markdown text should be included within #markdown blocks in a handlebars template:

{{#markdown someContentMarkdown}} {{/markdown}}

would be converted to the following HTML:

<p>someContentMarkdown</p>

Where the HTML would be the generated from the markdown in the someContentMarkdown property.

More information about the markdown helper can be found on the GitHub page for the handlebars helpers that the Content rendering service supports.

Custom parameters

Custom parameters can now be added to the URL passed to the Content rendering service. These parameters can then be referenced from within your handlebars templates, allowing you to implement different functionality based on variables such as locale or device, for example.

The params are included in the URL query parameters as follows:

?crparam.device=kiosk&crparam.account=amplience

With an example full URL for a content item:

https://c1.adis.ws/v1/content/cmslabs/content-item/07be26bb-bc37-4ade-97f9-1ba8979f4cba
  ?template=passed_params&crparam.device=kiosk&crparam.account=amplience

The content rendering service now includes a crParam namespace that contains the custom parameters. In the example above we are passing 'device' and 'account' parameters.

To access the custom parameters use the crParams helper, as shown below:

{{crParam 'device' .}}
{{#if (crParam 'device' .)}}

See the Content rendering service for more details on how to use the service, including an API reference and examples.

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