"Tip o' the hat" to Kentico for version 12

Kentico EMS version 12 is finally out! This is the story of the #KenticoRaptor's creation, iteration, and launch.

Picture of Michael Kinkaid

By Michael Kinkaid, Chief Xmas Officer

November 28, 2018


Kentico EMS version 12 just landed. “Woot!”, as the kids say. “Finally!”, says I. As much as I’ve loved them dearly, it’ll be nice to move on from the betas we’ve been using. The proverbial cat is well and truly out of the bag.

Now, instead of creating just another blog post listing all the cool features available on version 12 (links below), I've decided to take a different approach.

Yes, version 12 is very impressive and well worth an extensive review of the features, but equally impressive, is the story of how Kentico created and ultimately shared this release. Here are five things that stood out:

They tested ideas early

One of the many perks of being a Kentico MVP is that you get the earliest possible insight into where the platform is going (under NDA, of course—which I hope I'm not violating 😂). In 2017, we had MVC sessions during our summit in Brno, Czech Republic. There, the Kentico team demoed a super-early prototype of the MVC Page Builder concept. They asked us a LOT of great questions, including our thoughts on the direction they wanted to take, what our clients commonly requested, how editors typically produced content, and so on.

The 2017 MVP Summit - Petr Palas shares ALL the secrets.

The 2017 MVP Summit: Petr Palas shares ALL the secrets.

I’m a big fan of Lean principles: have an idea? Then test your hypothesis as quickly and as cheaply as you can. Find out if you’re on the wrong path before making any serious investment. The quick prototype of the MVC Page Builder that Kentico presented in 2017 was a great lo-fi way to test ideas and shake out valuable feedback.

They rolled out a robust beta process

Over the past year, Kentico has released three betas of version 12. Each beta introduced new features for review and testing. Betas are a win-win for both the platform vendor and the agency. The platform vendor gets feedback from a wider audience and the agency gets a working build that helps them begin to understand the new features. It also helps generate just a little bit of excitement…


They asked for, and acted on, feedback

All platform vendors ask for feedback, but it’s not always guaranteed that they’ll act on it. In some cases, that’s just fine. You can’t go hacking away at your product with every single idea that comes your way. You should, however, take note when the same suggestion comes up over and over again.

With version 12, Kentico asked for feedback and they clearly acted on the ideas that reached critical mass. An example of this can be seen in how widget properties evolved from the first beta to the third. In the first beta, widget properties could only be edited using inline editors. This new approach, used effectively, will enhance the editors’ experience.

The community (us included) felt that there will, however, be scenarios where visual inline editors could negatively affect the experience; e.g., widgets that have a lot of properties or whose properties might not lend themselves to a visual editing approach, like changing embed code. Kentico took this feedback and introduced an optional dialog window for editing properties that widgets can expose when needed. This provides a solution not only for when a visual editor isn’t the best experience, but also for when a visual editor isn’t a high enough priority for the client to invest in.

The swanky new properties editor - thanks Kentico!

The swanky new properties editor—thanks Kentico!

They kept the community informed

Kentico is moving its EMS solution to MVC first with version 12. The existing Portal method (Web Forms) is still supported, but it’s clear the direction they’re taking with the platform, documentation, training, etc., is now focused first and foremost on MVC.

This is an important evolution for the platform—important enough to warrant the earliest possible communication with agencies and their clients. This is something Kentico has done, and done well. There were product roadmap updates, beta releases, Michal and David going on tour, a continuous stream of blog posts, and many sessions delivered during the Connections event.

Michal Kadák and David Komárek spend the afternoon showing all the new MVC features to our dev team in Toronto

Michal Kadák and David Komárek spend the afternoon showing all the new MVC features to our dev team in Toronto

Given the early insight into how the platform was evolving, we’ve been putting together our own internal adoption plan for how we can move our studio to MVC first when it comes to the solutions we build on Kentico EMS. I’ve certainly appreciated being able to get that thinking in before the launch rather than after.

The helped support early adopters

Project timelines exist independently of platform launch dates. Sometimes the stars all line up. Sometimes they don’t. Like many Kentico agencies I speak with, at ecentricarts we’ve a project that went into development (sprints in our case) before the launch of version 12 but will ultimately go live a few months after the launch. This isn’t uncommon; however, given that version 12 is such a huge improvement when it comes to MVC over any previous Kentico version, we REALLY didn’t want to invest time and money developing on version 11.

Dilemma. Now, when I’ve a Kentico-related dilemma, I do the obvious thing and, well, reach out to Kentico, of course. They helped me validate the strategy we ended up taking: starting early sprints using the third and final beta of version 12. They also gave us early access to that final beta so we could get familiar with new features our project would rely on.

Want to know more about what’s in version 12?

MVC, the Page Builder, Smart Form Fields, new personalization—there are so many new features in version 12. Find out all about them in the links below.