Fall is upon us and besides the crisp breeze and beautiful leaves, we are excited to announce a new Fast Track release, eZ Platform v2.3. Our engineering and product teams have been working throughout the summer to introduce new capabilities to eZ Platform, both for developers and editors. We spent a lot of time listening to your feedback and applying this to our product, as we seek to improve both the editorial experience and the developer experience, and we hope you’ll see this in v2.3.
This release marks the return of a few prominent features such as the Form builder, Content Scheduler block and Personalization block. Not only have they returned, but they’ve of eZ. The release also brings a few desired features. Let’s dive in now and learn about these different features.
Building and reusing Forms anywhere on the website
The first feature we are excited to introduce is the Form Builder. The Form Builder is making its much-anticipated return after being excluded in v2.2. The new Form Builder has been significantly improved. The user interface has been totally redesigned, offering better usability, and being decoupled from the Page Builder. The approach has also been changed, letting editors create forms outside of a page and reusing them in many ways, in many places. Finally, the new Form Builder embraces the eZ Content Repository in a way that developers should love; forms are built on top of a dedicated Field Type providing immediate benefits when it comes to things such as versioning, translations and more. Forms can still be embedded within the Page Builder using the Embed Page, even if we don’t offer a dedicated Form Block (yet).
Let’s take a quick look at how editors can create a form using the Form Builder interface:
To learn more about forms and how editors can create different versions and translations for forms, we suggest you read the following blog post: [Sneak Peek] How to create forms with the new Form Builder.
Plan, schedule and preview your content
Content planning for any type of website is never an easy task. Here at eZ, we try to simplify this process by providing editors with the capability to plan, schedule and preview their content. To help with this we are bringing back the Content Scheduler Block. We hope that this feature will assist the editorial team to program content updates more easily to their websites, whether they are online or offline. As you may recall, this block allows editors to schedule a collection of content and determine when it will appear in the block. Once editors define when they would like their content to air, they can manage the planned content using the content flow. The Content Scheduler Block is typically used by websites which feature many stories and content on their front pages. These types of websites also want a very granular and advanced way to manage this flow of content. This could be, for instance, a list of headlines on a magazine website, or a curated list of products on a commerce website.
Compared to the previous versions, this new Content Schedule Block provides much more flexibility for the editors to better control the flow of content. Let’s take a quick look at how Content Scheduler Block works:
Content Scheduler Block
Defining the Visibility of Blocks
Scheduling changes are important, but you don’t always need something as sophisticated as the Content Scheduler Block to do it. For instance, content items may not be changing all the time, but you may want to decide to activate or deactivate a major part of a page, let’s say a call to action to a specific campaign, or the access to a very time-sensitive feature. For that, we have decided to introduce a new and simple feature to v2.3, called the Block Visibility Scheduler. The feature is available for any type of block (ex. Gallery, Embed, Personalization and more, including your custom block). The scheduler tab allows editors to configure the visibility of a block in advance, by selecting the dates when they want it to become visible or hidden on a page.
Here is a quick preview of the Block Visibility Scheduler:
To learn more about how we have improved scheduling changes on eZ Platform, we recommend you read the following blog post: [Sneak Peek] Improving scheduling changes on your website with eZ Platform Enterprise 2.3.
Navigate through the timeline to preview various website renderings
Scheduling content is only the first step to executing a great content strategy. For the editorial team to be productive in building high performing websites, they need to have the ability to control and manage events scheduled for the future. The Timeline can be looked at as a navigation tool in which editors can see all the events and actions scheduled. Editors can use the calendar or the timeline to preview how the page will look like at a specific date and time.
Here is a quick look at how the timeline function works:
Reusing images using the new Image Asset Field Type
Until now, it was not possible for an editor to reuse an image uploaded to the system when using the image field. This was a known limitation of eZ Publish and eZ Platform, which could be worked around by using the Relation Field Type, but this was very detrimental to the editorial experience. The new Image Asset Field Type is a new field type that can be used in any content type instead of using the old Image Field Type. Once an editor uploads an image to the Image Asset Field, it will automatically be stored in the media library as an Image Content Type and ready to be reused in different locations.
Let’s look at how to upload an image to the Image Asset Field:
This feature will be included in the open source edition. If you would like to learn more about the capabilities of this feature, then we recommend you read the following blog post: [Sneak Peek] Making Image Fields reusable.
Deliver personalized content defined by different scenarios
The Personalization Block is another feature for the Page Builder, that is making its return in v2.3 after missing out on the v2.2 release and the revamp of the Page Builder. . The functionality is the same as previously, but simply embracing the new Page Builder and embedding a few usability improvements. It allows editors to place into pages personalized content list delivered by eZ Personalization, our behavior-driven personalization service. To do that, the editor can select from a list of personalization scenarios in the service to decide which content should be proposed to the end-user.
Here is a preview of the personalization block:
Supporting multiple Time Zones
Often editors are distributed across different time zones and in the previous version of eZ Publish and eZ Platform, constant feedback was that all dates and time displayed within the tool were displaying the server time. This was very annoying for editors who were in different time zones than their server! We decided to remove this user experience flaw. Now editors can simply set the time zone they are working in and they will see any date and time adjusted for that time zone. To do this, editors can easily access this feature via the user preferences tab and select the time zone they are located in.
Here is a quick preview of the feature:
Improvements to the Universal Discovery Widget (UDW)
An additional improvement with eZ Platform V2.3, that may seem small but provides a great benefit to editors, is the multi-selection of content items in the Universal Discovery Widget (UDW). In the past, editors needed to add content items separately. This made the editorial experience both tedious and annoying. Editors will be happy to learn that this improvement will reduce both the number of clicks required to select and add a content item and the amount of time needed to build a webpage. In addition, we also improved the mono-selection of content by removing several clicks.
Here is a quick preview of this improvement:
A few more worthy mentions
There are a few more features that are worth mentioning which could be beneficial for editors and developers. First, I would like to thank our partners, Novactive, who have contributed a feature they developed named the Style Selector, inspired by eZ Publish capabilities. With this feature, editors will be able to apply various styles (predefined by their developers) to textual content within the Online Editor.
We also made some improvements to the U.I. consistency across the application and especially in the Content section in both View and Edit mode. We have updated breadcrumbs positioning across the UI, reinforcing navigational patterns for users. Regarding the Editing view, we have improved the layout interface in the Content section by improving the spacing among field types, as well as, styled form labels, and labels for Editing views within the Admin section.
As you may recall, in the last release we had begun the effort to add as many translations as possible to eZ Platform. We would like to thank everyone who has contributed to this initiative. Since launching this three months ago, we have added approximately 18 translations which are expected to be merged in v2.3. If you would like to take part in this translation effort, you can simply sign-up to Crowdin, a simple service offering a very helpful in-context translation interface. Feel free to contribute to our efforts here: https://crowdin.com/project/ezplatform.
eZ Platform v2.3 is available on ezplatform.com and via composer update. eZ Platform Enterprise Edition v2.3 is available for customers in their support portal. eZ platform Enterprise Edition v2.3 is available as a trial for partners in the partner portal. It is of course also available in eZ Platform Cloud. To see the full list of our new features, check out our release notes, as well as, the link to the list of changes on Github for open source and the enterprise edition.