Moving from Ektron to Episerver: What You'll Lose and What You'll Like
If your website is currently running on Ektron, you've definitely heard rumblings in the marketplace about the potential for losing product momentum from the combination of Episerver and Ektron as well as Accel and KKR. You won't lose product support, but your rate of product enhancements will likely slow down to a trickle as the product dies a slow death. This leaves you with a decision to make in the very near future: Should you “upgrade” to Episerver or should you look for another platform? To be sure, Episerver IS an upgrade. Overall, it's a much better product, built better, and easier to work with both as an editor and a developer. At the same time, there are also some things you'll miss about your lovable old Ektron.
Here are some items you'll miss:
- Flexibility built into SmartForms — this includes the embedded capability in SmartForms to use Groups and Tabular Content. This is something that is provided by the flexibility of SmartForms being based on XSDs. Most content management systems don't construct their content types this way so if you utilize these features of Ektron, you'll have to find an alternative (usually it will be as a sub content/data type that is referenced from a parent Content/Data Type)
- Menu flexibility — The menu flexibility in Ektron lets you have multiple trees for the navigation of your site that can be used for various reasons. You may be using lots of different ways in your Ektron site from navigation and sub-navigation to specialized content retrieval mechanisms. Episerver has a single tree, and content can only reside in a single place inside the tree. The navigation is typically created off of the content tree.
- Aliases and redirect management — In Ektron, you have the ability to have global aliases and redirects that can have all kinds of complex functionality that allow you to specify the URL for individual pages. This was typically necessary because the native URLs for content in Ektron were not user or SEO friendly. In Episerver, you have a single display name for each page. Other than that, you've got to create redirect pages or some other custom functionality to have multiple URLs go to the same page. Ektron has many more capabilities for regular expressions, partial URL redirects, etc. These advanced features will have to be met with the IIS URL Rewrite module or another custom feature that you'd have to build in Episerver.
- Workflows — Episerver had decent workflows based on Microsoft Workflow Foundation, but then Microsoft deprecated that component and Episerver was left without a solution. The newest versions of Episerver have a new workflow which appears to be fully featured and adequate. However, since it's new, it probably will be lacking some advanced features and may be buggy for a few releases.
- Complex Taxonomies & Tagging — You likely use this feature to create custom lists of content in Ektron. Or maybe even use it to build your dynamic navigation. Taxonomies in Ektron can be multilingual, there can be multiple taxonomies and each node in the taxonomy can have custom properties. You can also have each node in the taxonomy point to a collection of content, to a single content item or to media assets (PDFs or images). In order to do this in Episerver, you've got two strategies:
- Use Categories — in Episerver, these are a single tree list of nodes that any page can be 'tagged' with. Multiple categories can be assigned to each page. This helps you create dynamic lists. However, the categories can't be multilingual and there is only a single 'taxonomy' across the entire system.
- Use properties to handle the taxonomy — this would entail creating a custom content type for your “Taxonomy Item” and then creating a custom property that allows you to tag pages with one of the taxonomy Items that were created in a singular location in the Episerver content tree
- Really, the bottom line is that if you used taxonomies extensively, the options in Episerver will not be pleasant or easy.
Some things you'll love about Episerver (other than the obvious benefits of having a well-designed product with momentum behind it, as well as money, which is a HUGE benefit):
- There is only ONE way to create content types and pages (not 3 as Ektron has). This makes it easier for editors to know what to do, to get ramped up quickly and for developers to create new features for the business.
- Media asset management is simpler along with simple and basic editing of images. It's present on the page as an editor is editing and actually dropping the images onto the page (drag and drop).
- Link management — because of how loosely pages were related to each other in Ektron through aliases and redirects (and how many ways they could possibly be related), determining which pages link to others and what each page's relationships are is easier in Episerver. If you want to find out where a page is referenced before deleting it, it's much simpler to do. Episerver tells you where they are and prevents you from deleting the page.
- Content reuse is very easy and intuitive with blocks. This was always a challenge in Ektron, and Epi Blocks make it simple and straightforward to do for the majority of business cases.
- Personalization and audience management — this is leagues better in Episerver than in Ektron. It is simple, intuitive and useful, and all content you create can be personalized. However, you'll have to reconstruct all your Personas (visitor groups in Epi) and targeted content (any Block in Epi) in Episerver once you get your site framework and all your content in the system. There is no opportunity to migrate this intelligence from Ektron's Marketing Suite. You won't have to use any desktop apps anymore and the personalization creation experience won't be disjointed like it was in Ektron.
There are lots of other features in Episerver that you'll find much more intuitive, simple and easy to use. If you'd like to know more about how we can make your transition easier from Ektron to Episerver and retain your investment in content, taxonomy tagging, and media assets using our automated content migration tools, please contact us.