Sitecore XM Cloud

Sitecore Experience Manager Cloud, or XM Cloud, is a headless content management system that is a foundation for a composable digital experience platform (DXP) centered around content.

XM Cloud includes the latest versions of Experience Manager, Sitecore Experience Accelerator (SXA), Sitecore Next.js SDK, Experience Edge, and the Pages content editor. Because XM Cloud is a SaaS solution, Sitecore takes care of hosting, monitoring, and maintenance so you can focus on creating new functionality and integrating other composable solutions.

This topic describes key functionality in XM Cloud. Much of the functionality in XM Cloud will be familiar to developers who have previously worked with Sitecore Experience Manager or Sitecore Experience Platform.

To find information about recent product releases, visit the changelog.

SaaS environment updates

XM Cloud is made up of many different apps that run together, including Portal, Deploy, Pages, Explorer, Components, and others. Sitecore regularly updates these apps with new features, enhancements, and fixes. In addition, the content you create is stored and run on a unique Content Management (CM) instance in a base image.

Sitecore updates your XM Cloud base images in the following scenarios:  

  • Routine automatic updates - approximately a week after Microsoft releases a new Windows image, we update the XM Cloud base image. This ensures that you have the latest version and features.

  • Microsoft critical security fixes - whenever Microsoft releases a critical security fix for their Windows base image, to maintain the security of the platform and protect your environments.

  • Sitecore security fixes - Sitecore regularly applies updates to maintain the security of the platform.

Apart from these scenarios, we regularly release new XM Cloud images. However, we don't automatically update your environment for every release. You get these updates in the following ways:

  • Every time you deploy, the CM instance is updated to the latest version.

    Note

    You can enable auto deployments in the environment settings by turning on Trigger deployment on commit to branch, so that whenever you commit to your code repository you get the latest base image.

  • The up.ps1 script always fetches the latest base image, and you can use it in local development scenarios. If you develop locally, this ensures that you have access to the most recent version of the base image for testing and development purposes.

By following these update procedures, you can be sure that you have access to the latest features, security enhancements, and bug fixes.

XM Cloud tools and apps

XM Cloud includes many tools, features, and interfaces for managing and provisioning your websites, creating content, integrating with downstream applications, and publishing to your front end. The following overview diagram shows the many different parts of XM Cloud:

Overview diagram of the tools, apps, and components in Sitecore XM Cloud

Access

You open XM Cloud and manage user access in Sitecore Cloud Portal. After users are onboarded, they can access the various apps by entering their direct URL, such as the Deploy app, the Sites dashboard, and Components.

Interfaces

Here are the main user interfaces for working with XM Cloud:

  • Dashboard - the main entry point from which you edit sites, launch different tools, and manage site settings.

  • Pages - a WYSIWYG editor for building the layout and content of your site pages, used for creating page designs and templates, adding components, and personalizing the user experience.

  • Components - a visual grid-based builder with built-in styles and versioning capabilities that also supports using data sources and bringing your own React components (BYOC).

  • Explorer - an editing tool that lets you work with content items independent of presentation.

  • Forms - a dedicated interface to create and design forms, which you add to your site pages using Pages, Components, or Experience Editor. Forms capture user interactions and send them to a third-party system using webhooks.

  • Content Editor - a powerful interface, familiar to on-prem Sitecore XP users, that allows you to model and create content, create page and partial designs, create workflows, and work with tags.

  • Experience Editor - a legacy WYSIWYG interface that allows you to edit items directly on the page canvas.

Developer tools

XM Cloud includes a rich offering of developer tools for setting up and integrating your websites.

  • Deploy app - a convenient user interface where you create, manage, and deploy projects and environments, configure source control and hosting providers, manage credentials', and check the system status.

  • Sitecore CLI - robust command line interface that supports all core XM Cloud functions using commands, subcommands, and options. Use the CLI to create settings, items, configurations, data modelling, and more; test and verify content, and monitor your implementation.

  • GraphQL - both Experience Edge and the content management instance use GraphQL for performing queries and mutations on XM Cloud content. GraphQL powers the XM Cloud front end, and is easily maintainable, discoverable, and queryable. The solution is supplemented by an easy-to-use IDE that includes built-in documentation and validation.

  • REST APIs - you can execute many XM Cloud operations using publicly available REST APIs, such as managing and deploying environments and working with Sitecore Components.

  • Webhooks - integrate XM Cloud with other applications with real-time information using webhooks that are triggered when a publishing job finishes, or when entities change.

  • JSS for Next.js - the JavaScript SDK for Next.js provides a starter Next.js application, bootstrapped with all the necessary functionality for displaying content and layout from XM Cloud, Pages, and Components. It supports personalization, tracking, analytics, localization, and multisites, while allowing an easy integration of composable Sitecore products and services.

  • Serialization - Sitecore applies a standard for organizing and formatting data stored in the Sitecore content management system (CMS) and database. This allows safely extracting, migrating, moving, and sharing content while maintaining its integrity.

Delivery

In XM Cloud, you publish your content to Experience Edge. It's a GraphQL API-based service that allows you to retrieve layout and content, distributed through a CDN, and hosted by Sitecore. Experience Edge is the publishing target of different Sitecore products: XM, XM Cloud, Content Hub, and Content Hub One. You can build your solution in any language and pull the content you need to power it with GraphQL.

Front-end hosting

XM Cloud decouples the front-end presentation from delivery, while giving marketers the freedom to design the user experience with intuitive page layout editors. With XM Cloud, you can build and host with any front-end technology that is supported by JSS, allowing developers to take advantage of popular front-end frameworks to rapidly build new digital experiences. The solution includes built-in integrations with Vercel and Netlify, and supports integrations with other front-end hosting providers.

Composable add-ons

XM Cloud is part of Sitecore's composable offering. You can upgrade your solution to include Sitecore Search, enhanced Personalization, and content management capabilities from the Content Hub suite. Sitecore Connect allows a smooth integration between the various elements in your ecosystem, both Sitecore and non-Sitecore.

Client applications with your preferred technology

You can use any front-end stack to build client applications if the technology you choose can:

  • Consume JSON-formatted layout and content data.

  • Use libraries for interacting with the Edge Delivery GraphQL endpoint.

This includes frameworks such as Blazor, ASP.NET Core, JavaScript, and more.

If you choose JavaScript, we recommend building client solutions with the Next.js Sitecore JavaScript Rendering SDK (JSS).

The Next.js SDK provides the best support for integrating with Experience Editor and Pages and ensures the best compatibility with upcoming features, such as SXA Headless components. A foundation template is currently available that includes an XM Cloud instance and a JSS Next.js application configured to render data from an XM Cloud instance. You can use the foundation template to set up a local development environment and perform an initial deployment.

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