Sitecore 8.1 Upgrade Update

SitecoreSince the release of our current version of Sitecore in 2008, Sitecore has grown from a platform that provides simple web experiences to one that enables users to become truly engaged with their customers. The upgrade to Sitecore v8.1 comes with a completely updated user interface and API that make the system more efficient and extremely extendable. This update enhances our ability to support, promote and leverage the application to meet the needs of the campus community.

The OIT Web Team has been working through the upgrade process on a test system. The Sitecore application upgrade process is a step by step approach of installing and then verifying updates until we reach the current release. The process originally involved over 70 steps, but the team was able to consolidate those steps to a little over 50.

After the test server upgrade, the Web Team recruited the Web Captains in the schools and departments to put the test system through its paces. Since some areas have customized widgets and frameworks, those customizations needed to be tested with the upgrade. Around 25 issues were reported by the Web Captains in their testing. The Web Team had resolved most of those issues when they came across a critical flaw involving the web forms.

The Web Team is working with Sitecore support and other universities to resolve this issue. At this point, we are delaying the Sitecore 8.1 update. We will reschedule after we are confident the web forms are working correctly and in a sustainable manner.

A Tour of the Sitecores

Aren Cambre, director of the Web Application Services team, is collaborating with other universities to share knowledge on Sitecore and web content management.

Aren CambreThe Higher Ed Sitecore users group, started in 2008, now includes over forty universities and nonprofit organizations. “This spring, we are taking this to the next level by creating the tongue in cheek-named Tour of the Sitecores.” Aren Cambre explained, “With this Tour, each month, a member institution will present its Sitecore solution to others using GoToMeeting. The goal is that we can share knowledge on how each of us set up and develop for our Sitecore environments.”

This collaboration will be especially useful to SMU in the near future.  OIT is planning a major Sitecore upgrade this spring, where tapping in to those resources will be helpful. Also, as OE2C has centralized developer resources, OIT has been given an opportunity to make the Sitecore experience better for our users. Gaining insight from other universities will allow us to focus on what will deliver the best value.

IT Training: Upcoming Training for Qualtrics, Sitecore, and lynda.com

IT TrainingWe have added additional IT Training Workshops through Winter Break, including a new course in Qualtrics. Take your skills to the next level by engaging in one of our online or instructor-led trainings.


lyndaCampus Now Available 

We understand not everyone can make our in-person training sessions due to scheduling conflicts, a busy week, or life just getting in the way. In an effort to provide quality training that works with everyone’s schedule, OIT has licensed lyndaCampus for the university. The lyndaCampus provides a vast online library of instructional videos covering the latest software, creative, and business skills. Taught by accomplished teachers and recognized industry experts, lynda.com is a high-quality resource for students, faculty, and staff looking to develop skills in Microsoft Office, Adobe Creative Suite, project management, social media, and a wide range of other topics. You can even view courses on your iPhone, iPad, Android phone or tablet, or other mobile device at your convenience — anytime, day or night.

To begin, just go to smu.edu/lynda and log in with your SMU ID and password.

lyndaCampus Webinars

If you have never used lynda.com before we invite you to join us for the lynda.com + SMU: Formal Overview webinar presented by lynda.com.

Register: Wednesday, October 28, 2015 3pm – 3:45pm CST
Register: Thursday, October 29, 2015 3pm – 3:45pm CST


Sitecore Basics

Are you new to Sitecore, SMU’s Web Content Management System? Have you been using Sitecore, but not regularly enough to remember what to do when you log in? We can help. OIT is offering a special hands-on Sitecore Basics class to the SMU community. Not only will we cover everything you need to know to get started using Sitecore, but will walk you through building out a complete site within Sitecore.

Register: Wednesday, November 11 from 2:30pm-4pm


Advanced Sitecore

Sitecore, SMU’s Web Content Management System, does a lot of the work in creating your pages, but sometimes it needs a little wrangling to really get it to shine. In this advanced class, will cover basic HTML usage in Sitecore and how to spice up those pages by adding CSS formatting, using widgets, and creating forms. This class is for advanced users.

Register: Wednesday, November 18 from 2:00-3:30


Photoshop for Sitecore

Learn how to take advantage of Photoshop to add slide shows and format images for use in Sitecore. In this advanced class, will cover basic Photoshop usage and how to upload the items to the Media Library in Sitecore. We will also discuss the slide show widgets.

Register: Wednesday, December 9 from 10:30am – 12:00pm

Updated 11/12/2015 to remove Qualtrics courses.