New releases, Sitecore

Sitecore Rocks – preview the future of Sitecore development


Something really cool happened today!

A new tool called Sitecore Rocks has been released in a CTP (Community Technology Preview) version – a early sneak peek. The tool, although a little rough around the edges, really shows a bright new future for Sitecore development, a future where we as developers do not need to muck about with browsers interfaces, only to connect our code, .NET pages and user controls into Sitecore. Now we can stay within in the tool we use and like, Visual Studio.

Together with the Team Development for Sitecore module from Hedgehog, this tool looks to be a must-have in the Sitecore developer toolbox.

In short, Sitecore Rocks is a Sitecore editing environment in Visual Studio. The environment naturally does not contain the complete set of features of the Sitecore content editor, but is focused on the features we as developers use. This includes for example:

  • Quick and easy navigation in the content tree and on the item editor.
  • Multi-item editing.
  • Linking Visual Studio project to Sitecore, and automatic creating of layout related items in Sitecore from your .NET files.
  • Live Sitecore log viewer.
  • Job viewer allowing you to examine running tasks in Sitecore.
  • Edit rich text fields in Visual Studio HTML editor/designer.
  • Easy interface for layout management.

You can watch a video of Lars Fløe Nielsen presenting some of the Sitecore Rocks features here.

In my view, the tool is very nice and definitely a vision of what’s in store for us as developers, but the tool is still in the early phase and still has a lot of unused potential. Personally I feel that one of the most promising features is the ability for everybody to extend the functionality, and hopefully this will create a flood of shared source plug-ins with really useful features. Of the top of my head, I can mention countless possibilities, so drop a comment if you have a lot of time on your hands 🙂

The tool is available through the Visual Studio 2010 Extension Managers Online Gallery – just open it up in Visual Studio and search for “Sitecore” – or download Sitecore Rocks from the MSDN:

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15 thoughts on “Sitecore Rocks – preview the future of Sitecore development

  1. Eldblom says:

    Good stuff! Now you have a wonderful Sitecore explorer to utilize in your product – for free 🙂 So were looking forward to seeing even more integration between Sitecore Rocks and TDS.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Looks great. Actually, TDS becomes less useful, as we can now use this tool + Sitecore serialization feature, which is much faster on a large databases.

    • Eldblom says:

      Yes, to some extent the serialization part. But the really useful part of TDS, ease of deployment and automatic update packages, are not solved by Rocks.

    • Sean Kearney says:

      Based on initial testing of Sitecore Rocks I don’t see how Team Development for Sitecore becomes less useful. Serialization of Sitecore items has been around (and working) since Sitecore 6.0.1 and is, in fact, what allows Team Development for Sitecore to work with Visual Studio 2008 and 2010.

      Without TDS you still need to manually manage the serialization, comparing, and deploying of items via files. With TDS you are able to deploy and sync with only a couple clicks.

      We see Sitecore Rocks and Team Development for Sitecore being perfect compliments in your developer toolbox.

      • Eldblom says:

        Sean, as I both mention in my post and in some of the comments, you can see that I totally agree! The feature set of TDS is nowhere nearly in Rocks – although serialization might be a little more approachable by the larger crowd.
        I on the other hand see a bright new future for TDS in conjunction with Rocks – you have a really cool Sitecore explorer and editor being maintained by Sitecore itself, that you can integrate with. Now you can focus on expanding your core features: ease of development environment setup, deployment, continuous integration etc. For example the field level serialization you were talking about in your LearnSitecore podcast appearance sounds really promising.
        If some of you haven’t heard it yet, check it out at http://learnsitecore.cmsuniverse.net/en/Podcasts/Learn-Sitecore-podcast-2-Team-development.aspx.

      • Anonymous says:

        To be honest, most of the TDS “benefits” are benefits of Sitecore serialization, that can be stored in SVN and merged / changed easily.

        Example – this statement:

        >NO MORE PACKAGING
        …Each developer can now identify changes, iterate their portion of the project, and get their contributions back into the workflow quickly and without worrying about collisions.

        and many others.

        With serialization you just update folder from source control and click “Revert/Update Database” in Sitecore.

        Item editing in VS is now available in “Rocks”(which is free), and I’m sure it will be possible to revert / update items from serialization using it.

  3. Alex says:

    Good job! The only problem I’ve found – Visual Studio sometimes freezes when you use Rocks and you have to kill VS process and start it again.

  4. To a certain extent you are right: TDS is reusing the serialization features that Sitecore supplies by converting it into an integrated part of your development process. also use the Sitecore upgrade framework to build update packages when you are ready to deploy.

    But here’s the thing. While Rocks will provide serialization/de-serialization your project will be maintained under a manual process:

    — Adding content to your project —
    If you need items added to your project you would first need to serialize them, – then add it to your project. A two-step process. Also, the system would not check for conflicts. With TDS this is reduced to a one-step process, greatly time but more importantly the risk of getting out of sync.

    — Deploy —
    When you are ready for deployment in a traditional Sitecore environment (as with Rocks), Sitecore supplies a cool packaing tool for deployment scenarios. However to define what to deoply (files and content) is manual process which takes time, but also introduces risks of getting your project files out of sync (you may forget specific files). With TDS, you simply point to two different versions in your your source control and ask TDS to generate an update package. TDS may even, if you have direct access to the server automatically install the update package on the target delivery (or test) server.

    With Rocks, – as with Sitecore, we do supply a range of tools for any organization to work in groups. However, TDS binds the objects together into a fully automated single operation by adding their expertise of source control systems.

  5. Chris Lewis says:

    We’ve only just started evaluating TDS and many of its features are great, but I dont see yet how it could be used for a truly automated build process without some further work. Its deployment feature indeed copies your files and binaries to a target location and you can also ask it to generate a package as well but the documentation assumes that the package is installed as a manual task via the UpdateInstallationWizard. That might be fine for production releases which are manual but what if you wanted a nightly build that creates your sitecore environment in an entirely automated manner. I’m guessing the API might expose routines for installing packages and you’d need to write something to hook in to this.

    Any thoughts?

    • Chris,
      Have you used the standard deploy functionality of TDS? This will push your Sitecore item changes automatically to your target environment; you don’t need a package at all for that scenario. We have a whitepaper/document on automated builds coming out soon that we can send out to you early if you like.

  6. Sean, yes, a lot has happened in the last two months. We’ve bought TDS and used it to create a really robust end to end build which creates an UpdatePackage. It’s a superb tool – essential – I wish we had it 6 months ago.

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