For many months, you've heard us talk a lot about the Web Services Initiative. In many ways, this conversation has been conceptual. We've discussed how what we're doing is more than just building web sites; it's also building infrastructure that will serve to provide enhanced services, shared tools, collaboration, etc.
This conceptual conversation will continue, of course, as we strive to reinforce the overarching goals of the Web Services Initiative. However, now that we have successfully launched two brand new web sites in Sitecore, as well as thePoint (the new employee-only intranet), we can begin to see fulfillment of the promise of the plans and tools that have been put into place.
A Little Context
One of the big motivators for moving to Sitecore and thePoint is the idea of shared content. A major goal of the Web Services Initiative is to provide a place (or places) where the same piece of content can be shared to multiple locations without replicating the same content in 25 different places. So in our new systems, how does this work out? Let me give you a very concrete example.
On the old KCTCS.edu site, we used to have a page for Business Procedures. This collection of 100+ documents was recently moved to thePoint--after all, as this content is used primarily by internal audiences, it makes sense that it should be managed in thePoint. The migration went smoothly, but during migration we ran into one small wrinkle: this content ALSO needs to be accessible by external audiences who would not be able to log in to thePoint.
In the past, we would probably have done what has been done many times before: we would have copied the documents (again!) from thePoint, loaded them into Sitecore, and published them to the public web site. This works, of course, but leaves us right where we started--with unnecessarily duplicated content and the ever-present headache of trying to keep the content in sync as changes occur.
That Was Then...This is Now!
But guess what? This time we didn't have to do this! One of the great features of Sitecore is that it comes built-in with integration to the software that drives thePoint. We simply had to configure a few options and voila!, the documents that live in and are managed by thePoint are now available as needed to audiences on our public web site.
In case you've missed it, the best part of all of this is that whether you access the document on thePoint (as an employee) or on KCTCS.edu (as another audience), you're getting the same document! Whoever is responsible for the document can open it up on thePoint, make appropriate changes, and save it. They don't need to worry about coordinating with the web guys down the hall to make sure the update gets posted to the public web site because the integration of thePoint and Sitecore will take care of that for them.
This is Only the Beginning
I know, I know, web people get excited about the strangest things :). Nonetheless, we are very excited because this embodies, in a small, but tangible way, many of the principles we've been preaching about and working toward the last several years. As we continue to move forward, more and better opportunities like this will present themselves, and we'll find an abundance of ways to take advantage of the power and functionality that our new tools afford us.
Do you get excited about things like this too? Let us know--we'd love to have your feedback!