Repost: How to Evaluate Sitecore as a Developer

This blog post provides some suggestions for developers evaluating the Sitecore ASP.NET CMS. You might find useful my series of posts about Sitecore Differentiating Factors and All About the Sitecore ASP.NET CMS.

Like any Web Content Management System (WCM or CMS), the best way for a developer to evaluate Sitecore is to build a prototype using the product. The best way to learn Sitecore is to attend at least the Sitecore .NET Developer or Sitecore HTML Developer training (the latter focuses on XSL). If you choose HTML training, then you should know HTML, JavaScript, and CSS. If you choose .NET training, then you should also know XML, ASP.NET, C#, and Visual Studio. And it never hurts to know a little about Microsoft SQL Server. But first, schedule a live Web demo of the product with Sitecore.

Do some research before attending training, working with the technology, or involving any information and system architects, users, business analysts, or other parties in the prototyping process. Spend as much time as you can afford reading about Sitecore. Check out the Sitecore web site and the Sitecore Developer Network (SDN), especially the SDN forums. Manage your profile and sign up for newsletters on the Sitecore Portal. If you are a Sitecore partner, check out the Sitecore Partner Network (SPN).

Before architecting a solution, I think that developers should read through at least these in approximately the following order:

Further reading before installing Sitecore:

For some reason, organizations often want to start by configuring the production servers. I would first focus on the development environments, then test environments, then production content management, and finally production content delivery.

You can get the latest Sitecore setup executable from this page on the Sitecore Developer Network. If you are a Sitecore partner, you can download the Nicam demo site from the Sitecore Partner Network (SPN). Customers can contact Sitecore for access to Nicam. Nicam is useful for demonstrations and (to some extent) education, but does not follow best practices, and neither should form any basis for production solutions. If you run into any trouble installing Sitecore, see the Installation Troubleshooting guide or contact your regional Sitecore office.

Use the cookbooks to implement what you’ve read:

If you want to use XSL, see the Presentation Component XSL Reference.

For information about Sitecore Application Programmer Interfaces (APIs), see:

If the above topics don’t cover what you need, check additional resources listed in my post that contains links to the Best Sitecore Documentation, common forum topics, and other resources. These should be particularly helpful:

You might want to review various blogs about Sitecore. Lars Fløe Nielsen maintains this list of current blogs relevant to Sitecore.

You might also be interested in my series of blog posts about Sitecore best practices.

Sitecore partners and customers can file support cases at the Sitecore Support Portal.

  • This is great, John. This should be a prominent "Get Started" resource. Thanks!

  • I couln't download sitecore from CMS 6.aspx I have registered, and logged in . still it says "Permission to the requested document was denied." Please help me..

  • @mohammed: Please contact your regional office and request escalation of your SDN privileges.

  • Like any Web Content Management System (WCM or CMS), the best way for a developer to evaluate Sitecore is to build a prototype using the product.

  • Absolutely, but I think it's only fair to invest some effort into reading documentation, attending training, and/or reviewing an existing solution before building such a prototoye in order to give each CMS a fair chance (I would also hope to throw the prototype away instead of using that time for production coding, as the code you write on day 10 should be better than the code you write on day 1). Trying to take what you know about standalone web sites (without CMS) or concepts from another CMS to a new CMS could result in some frusrtation and potentially an invalid perspective on that new CMS.

  • "@mohammed: Please contact your regional office and request escalation of your SDN privileges. "  likewise. So basically there is no way to just get trial version to play with without involving some tedious process of calls, emails and so on. And having  criptic message of denied request after you registered and logged in does feel like an error to me, to be honest.  All i wanted is to play with trial while organization goes through installation at the data center (bought full enterprise license, yes), which obviously would take them like a month , by which time i'd have better idea as PM  and developer.

  • I am software consultant , I try to contact many times to regional office , but no answers.   I don't understnad why the sitecore team don't respond to query.

  • @virender: I am sorry; I do not have an explanation for their lack of response. Honestly, your best option is to contact the team in your region directly. It is probably best to tell them that you have an urgent prospect that would like to evaluate the software for possible purchase, and request a short-term demonstration license. If that does not work, I may be able to get in touch with them for you.

  • John, I've read you book Professional Sitecore Development and really appreciate the hard work you put into it. I am trying to get a 30 day trial for the latest version. Any chance of this?

  • Hi, I am new to sitecore development, plz let me know where i get demo license to install sitecore.

  • @Senthilkumar: Sorry for the delayed response. You should Sitecore to request a demonstration license.

  • Hello John  Thanks for your post, it certainly clarified a few things for me.   As a software developer in a small software house I feel Sitecore's "buy before you try" policy astonishing and almost designed to prevent adoption. Developers and architects are evangelists; prohibiting them from trialling software without first paying for training must surely be depriving you of many sales opportunities.   I appreciate the benefits of training will lead to a better understanding of the product, which in turn will lead to appropriate decisions being made during planning, development and deployment. I also appreciate that Sitecore is a large product. But so is SharePoint and the trial model is working very well for them. As a software house we invest in training, but not on these terms – the analogy I use is that it would be like buying a car after watching someone else drive it. As a developer hands on development experience is essential before making a decision to invest in training.  As an incumbent vendor we recently had an enquiry for a an upgrade of a CMS system and the client themselves volunteered the possible candidates as Sitecore or Umbraco. After 3 weeks of wrangling with Sitecore (10 days of which was awaiting the response to three emails and phone calls) I eventually got the news we would need to attend training before we could get hands on. The business case for that did not stand up – our client went with Umbraco.   Please don’t think I am ranting at you John, I’m just trying to get someone to listen.