December 10, 2018 | Hedgehog
Welcome to our Hedgehog live chat. The following transcript has been lightly edited.
Jackie (Jacqueline Baxter, Digital Strategist): Welcome to our live chat. Today we're talking Avtor, the new addition to the TDS Essential Collection. First things first, lets make sure everyone knows what exactly Avtor does.
Charlie (Charles Turano, Solutions Architect): Please fill me in.
Derek (Derek Hunziker, Development Manager):
Leticia: Sorcery, actually.
Jackie: Awesome, I think that says it all! You're all free to go. Kidding, kidding. Avtor is a tool for content editors and authors, yes?
Leticia: Yes, anyone that works in Sitecore who manages content - SEO, Marketers, Content Editors
Charlie: Yes. It was designed to address some of the short comings in the OOB Sitecore content editor tools. Sitecore is great a creating new content, but updating existing content can be time consuming, especially if the updates are touching the same set of fields across many items.
Jackie: That has certainly been my experience.
Derek: Mine as well - I even developed techniques such as disabling Standard Fields and hiding the entire content tree just to gain a bit of speed. Not needed with Avtor.
Sean (Sean Holmesby, Solutions Architect): Exactly....mass content entry is a pain in Sitecore out of the box. Avtor alleviates that problem by giving content editors a grid-like interface that means they can enter content more efficiently.
Leticia: Basically, Avtor gives content editors the time to write meaningful content not enter it.
Jackie: It's amazing how much time Avtor has saved me. That always sounds like a PR line, but it's 100% true
Leticia: Entering content is soooooo massively time consuming especially when I have to touch a lot of pages at once. Avtor eliminates that process and lets me focus on the content itself.
Derek: I'm curious to know what types of fields you all typically edit with Avtor? I have found it especially useful for SEO metadata, taxonomy-based fields, and marketing items, such as goals, campaigns, etc.
Jackie: Metadata for sure. I also found it extremely helpful for Open Graph content (text and images) and Twitter Card content. Those are the kinds of things that I'm often doing for a number of pages at once during the project build, so being able to see all of them together? Invaluable.
Leticia: The other day I needed to make sure that all the images on the site were up to date, license wise, so I used it to pull up all the images at once. I was able to easily scroll through the whole site at one time
Charlie: Those types of content are typically handled poorly be the Experience editor, since they are not usually visible on the page as part of the editing process. Has anyone used it with clients? If so, what are they saying?
Jackie: I can say that when I've used it on projects, the time savings are impressive. No one can ever believe that I managed a task we had budgeted six hours for in less than half the time.
Leticia: Like I said- it gives the marketers time to focus on the deliverable not the entry
Jackie: Things like metadata and open graph content are also fields that can get missed pretty easily, but they're incredibly valuable from an SEO and marketing perspective. Pulling all those fields into one screen lets you see the gaps and close them much more easily (and it makes optimizing that content easier too.)
Leticia: I would often cry at how long it would take me to update pages before - it was such a chore. Now I’m in and out in a matter of minutes and on to the next thing.
Sean: And as a developer, I no longer get assigned a task to enter content handed to me in an Excel spreadsheet. Those changes can be made directly into Sitecore via the Avtor interface....or even imported in using Avtor's Import/Export feature.
Jackie: Full disclosure, a developer is still going to need to set it up.
Sean: That's a one off. Super easy. Install the package, set up the license, done. Over to you, content wizards!
Jackie: I would like 'content wizard' on my next business card please.
Leticia: I think the export feature is brilliant. I can’t tell you how frustrating it is trying to share content with an outside writer or translator and have to manually copy and paste text back and forth. It's a time suck!
Derek: Previously, I was generating reports using Sitecore PowerShell Extensions. It was very powerful and provided a ton of flexibility, however, a Developer with a specific skill set was required. Exporting in Avtor is as simple as checking a checkbox for each field you want to see in your report.
Charlie: I tried really hard to make that simple. I based it on the experience I and other developers I know have had writing custom import/export functions to get content to or from non-Sitecore databases.
Leticia: Honestly, it's so simple sometimes I think I did it wrong!
Jackie: SAME! The first time I played with it I thought I'd screwed something up because it went so fast
Derek: Speaking of fast, I just ran a test on a production content tree. Avtor exported 20k items in just a few seconds.
Jackie: THAT’S what I’m talking about! Besides speed, are there other Avtor features that you particularly love?
Leticia: SEARCH. That used to be another time suck…searching for a phrase or word on a site that you have to update, then having to open every page/component to update. Avtor does it all for you and highlights the line in pretty colors.
Jackie: Can't lie, the pretty colors are a nice bonus
Leticia: It's like a visual TA DA
Charles: It's also really nice for updating buckets
Sean: And it's not just Search that gives you the pretty highlights for content you're trying to find. The content tree in Avtor adds a Right-Click context menu on items, where you can find helpers for 'Items that link to this' or 'Items that this links to'. Selecting one of those will then (prettily) highlight those items in the tree.
Charles: What do you guys think of the concept of "FieldSets"?
Derek: I like that they are "per user". This allows me to manage the fields I commonly work with while not interfering with other Authors. This makes it a great tool for teams, both large and small.
Leticia: Yeah, I often look at the same set of fields/data so it makes its convenient to literally hit one key.
Jackie: It's a really well thought out product overall - something like Field Sets wouldn't occur to me as being necessary right off the bat but when you dive in and realize all the functionalities Avtor has? It's pretty comprehensive. Ok, final question: what would you tell someone who's considering Avtor?
Leticia: Buy it! once you use it you won’t be able to imagine life without it - it's that powerful.
Sean: You have no idea how much you need this until you use it and see the amount of time it saves!
Derek: I'd give them some book and podcast recommendations. They're going to need to fill in all the time they'll save with something.
Charlie: LOL. Well, we have a free trial. Just try it.
Leticia: Yes, we have a free trial- but it ends at the end of December so try it while you can. I mean, really, if you told me for $199 (limited time offer) my content team would save HOURS of work --- no brainer.
Jackie: I couldn't agree more! And that concludes our live chat. Thanks everyone!