SXA - Blog

Reading time ~9 minutes

Learn how to create a blog using Sitecore Experience Accelerator with out of the box functionalities.

Table of contents


Site

This step is optional. You can already have your own site and just want to extend it with blog features. I will create a separate site to not mix items from XA.Reference site.

It will look like this

Templates

In this section templates for blog items which will be used in next paragraphs will be created.

Templates will be created under Tenant Templates folder, in my case (/sitecore/templates/Project/SXA Reference/Blog)

Blog Post template

  • Go to Tenant Templates
  • Create new template, give it a name: Blog Post
  • Set base template to a Page template from your Tenant Templates, in my case (/sitecore/templates/Project/SXA Reference/Blog/Page)
  • Add two additional fields under Content section
    • Introduction field (type: Rich Text)
    • Published field (type: Datetime)

  • Add Standard Values item
  • Set __Bucketable field to true

  • Fill Title field with $name token
  • Fill Published field with $now token

Blog Home template

  • Go to Tenant Templates
  • Create new template, give it a name: Blog Home
  • Set base template to Page template from your Tenant Templates, in my case (/sitecore/templates/Project/SXA Reference/Blog/Page)

  • Add Standard Values item
  • Edit __Masters field (Insert Options) - add Blog Post template to insert options

  • Set __Is Bucket field to true

Content

Now when we have our templates we can create example content

  • Got to location where you want to create your blog
  • Create blog root item using Blog Home template

  • Create some blog posts so we can see if our presentation looks fine in next sections

Item Queries

Before we start defining presentation we will configure Item Query, which will return blog posts for a given blog root. I will be a data source for some of the renderings.

  • Go to Item Queries node, in my case (/sitecore/content/SXA Reference/Blog/blog/Settings/Item Queries)
  • Create Item Query, give it a name: Blog Post

  • Click Build Query (button located in Query field)
  • Create query:
    • Set Location filter - select blog root item created here
    • Set Template filter - select Blog Post template created here
    • Set Sort - select Published field create here

Presentation

In this section we will take care of look and feel of your blog. We will create: Partial Designs, Page Designs and Rendering Variants.

Partial Designs

Blog Base Partial Design

This will be base Partial Design for our Blog Home Partial Design and Blog Post Partial Design

  • Go to Partial Designs node, in my case (/sitecore/content/SXA Reference/Blog/blog/Presentation/Partial Designs)
  • Create Partial Design, give it a name: Blog Base
  • Open it in Experience Editor
  • Split main placeholder
    • Add Column Splitter rendering into main placeholder and
    • Set 1st column width to 8
    • Set 2nd column width to 4
  • Add sidebar renderings
    • Add Rich Text rendering into column-2-1, set its content to: Archive (this will be header text for Archive rendering)
    • Add Archive rendering into column-2-1
    • Add Rich Text rendering into column-2-1, set its content to: Tag Cloud (this will be header text for Tag Cloud rendering)
    • Add Tag Cloud rendering into column-2-1

You should obtain a similar result.

  • Experience Editor

  • Content Editor

  • Configure Archive
    • Open rendering parameters for Archive rendering
    • Set Source Type field - assign Blog Posts Item Query created here
    • Set Name of the field used for date: field - set Published field created here
  • Configure Tag Cloud
    • Open rendering parameters for Tag Cloud rendering
    • Set Data Source field - assign blog root item created here (this will be root to take tags from)
    • Set Facet field - assign SxaTags field (this is the default tagging field which comes with Taxonomy feature)
    • Set Search Result Page field - page where search results will be presented, see how to create serach results page here

Blog Home Partial Design

  • Go to Partial Designs node, in my case (/sitecore/content/SXA Reference/Blog/blog/Presentation/Partial Designs)
  • Create Partial Design, give it a name: Blog Home
  • Set Base Partial Design field to previously created base Partial Design, Partial Designs/Blog Base

  • Open it in Experience Editor
  • Add Page List rendering into column-1-1

  • Create Rendering Variant for Page List
    • Go to Rendering Variants root for Page List (/sitecore/content/SXA Reference/Blog/blog/Presentation/Rendering Variants/Page List)
    • Create new variant Post List
      • Title field (VariantField type)
        • Change tag to h2
        • Set Is link field to true
      • Published field (VariantDateField type)
      • Introduction field (VariantField type)

  • Go back to Experience Editor
  • Assign newly created Post List variant to Page List rendering

  • Add Pagination rendering into column-1-1 (under Page List)
  • Configure Pagination
    • Open rendering parameters for Pagination rendering
    • Set List Signature field - assign blog-post-list
  • Configure Page List
    • Open rendering parameters for Page List rendering
    • Set List Signature field - assign blog-post-list
    • Set Source Type field - assign Blog Posts Item Query created here
    • [Optional] Set Page Size field - set number of posts that should be displayed on blog home item

Blog Post Partial Design

  • Go to Partial Designs node, in my case (/sitecore/content/SXA Reference/Blog/blog/Presentation/Partial Designs)
  • Create Partial Design, give it a name: Blog Post
  • Set Base Partial Design field to previously created base Partial Design, Partial Designs/Blog Base

  • Open it in Experience Editor
  • Add Page Content rendering into column-1-1
  • Create Rendering Variant for Page Content
    • Go to Rendering Variants root for Page Content (/sitecore/content/SXA Reference/Blog/blog/Presentation/Rendering Variants/Page Content)
    • Create new variant Blog Post Entry
      • Title field (VariantField type)
        • Change tag to h1
      • Published field (VariantDateField type)
      • Introduction field (VariantField type)
      • Content field (VariantField type)

  • Go back to Experience Editor
  • Assign newly created Blog Post Entry variant to Page Content rendering

  • Add Tag List rendering into column-1-1
  • Set Search Result Page field - page where search results will be presented, see how to create serach results page here

Page Designs

Blog Post Page Design

  • Go to Page Designs node, in my case (/sitecore/content/SXA Reference/Blog/blog/Presentation/Page Designs)
  • Create Page Design, give it a name: Blog Post
  • Set Partial Designs field - add previously created Partial Designs: Blog Post (I also created Blog Footer and Blog Header for better content organization)

Blog Home Page Design

  • Go to Page Designs node, in my case (/sitecore/content/SXA Reference/Blog/blog/Presentation/Page Designs)
  • Create Page Design, give it a name: Blog Home
  • Set Partial Designs field - add previously created Partial Designs: Blog Home (I also created Blog Footer and Blog Header for better content organization)

Template mapping

After we created all Page Designs we can set mapping for them.

  • Go to Page Designs node, in my case (/sitecore/content/SXA Reference/Blog/blog/Presentation/Page Designs)
  • Set Template Design Mapping field
    • Map Blog Home Page Design to Blog Home template
    • Map Blog Post Page Design to Blog Post template

Search results page

If you plan to use Tag Cloud or Tag List renderings you will have to create a page where serach results for particular tag will be presented.

There is nothing special with this page, the only required thing is Search Results rendering.

All necessary information about query criteria will be passed via URL.

See example

Advanced configuration

I present few additional steps that will make your search results page look better.

  • Create Blog Base Page Design
    • Go to Page Designs node, in my case (/sitecore/content/SXA Reference/Blog/blog/Presentation/Page Designs)
    • Create Page Design, give it a name: Blog Base
    • Set Partial Designs field - add previously created Partial Designs: Blog Base (I also created Blog Footer and Blog Header for better content organization)
  • Create your serach results page (you can use default Page template)
  • Assign Blog Base Page Design to search page

  • Open it in Experience Editor
  • Add Search Results rendering into column-1-1 placeholder
  • Add Load More rendering into column-1-1 placeholder

  • Create Rendering Variant for Search Results
    • Go to Rendering Variants root for Search Results (/sitecore/content/SXA Reference/Blog/blog/Presentation/Rendering Variants/Search Results)
    • Copy existing variant created for Post List (you can create a new one, I am doing this for convenience)
  • Go back to Experience Editor and assign variant.

In order to avoid results from different location than blog root, so-called Search Scope has to be created.

  • Go to Scopes root (/sitecore/content/SXA Reference/Blog/blog/Settings/Scopes)
  • Create new Scope item and name it: Blog Posts
  • Set scope query (it is almost the same as one defined in item query but in this case omit sorting)

  • Go back to Experience Editor
  • Open rendering parameters for Search Results rendering
  • Assign Search Scope

One last missing part is sorting. To properly sort results follow steps below:

  • Go to Facets root (/sitecore/content/SXA Reference/Blog/blog/Settings/Facets)
  • Create new DateFacet item and name it: Published (fields will be automatically set if you select correct name, otherwise make sure that field name for this facet equals Published date field created at the beginning.)
  • Go to Sort Results root for search renderings (/sitecore/content/SXA Reference/Blog/blog/Data/Search/Sort Results)
  • Create new SortingGroup item and name it: Published
  • Add Sorting child and name it: Published Desc
    • Set Facet field to Published facet
    • Set Direction field to Descending
  • Go back to Experience Editor
  • Open rendering parameters for Search Results rendering
  • Assign Default sort order (Published Descending)
  • [Optional] Set Page Size field - set number of posts that should be displayed by Sort Results

Demo

If you’ve done everything correctly you should achieve similar result.

As you can see we haven’t touch Visual Studio at all. Everything happened in content. Simulating blog engine is just an example. There are a lot of other things that can do.

Once you learn using it and feel comfortable you will become a true magician.

Package

The tenant I’ve created for this tutorial can be found here: SXA - Blog.zip

It is compatible with SXA 1.5.

Updated version will be shipped with XA.Reference site, starting from version 5.0 for SXA 1.6

FAQ

How I can change URL slug?

Blog posts URLs are generated based on the path in the content tree. I proposed the solution with blog root as a bucket item because it is easier to maintain URLs that way.

To change the way bucket path his build for blog posts follow steps below:

  • Go to Settings node, in my case (/sitecore/content/SXA Reference/Blog/blog/Settings)
  • Set Rule field (Rules for Resolving the Bucket Folder Path) - configure rule and action. I recommend pointing to blog root using ID condition.

by default you’ve got following Bucketing options available:

Create the folder structure based on:

  • the creation date of the new bucketable item in this format
  • the ID of the new bucketable item with this number of levels
  • the name of the new bucketable item with this number of levels
  • the tag with this as a default value

How I can enable comments?

There are few ways to bring comments feature to your blog. Right now they have one in common, they are hosted on external services. Sitecore item-like comments are not delivered out of the box.

SXA provides two external integrations, you can see how they look like on the newest version of SXA here:

How I can enable automatic sync of a bucket?

Sitecore does not provide such feature by default. If you change field or property of your item that is an input for bucket path resolver you will have to manually synchronize tree.

If you need automatic bucket sync you will have to code one. See discussion on stackoverflow about this.

SXA Health Check

Scan your SXA solutions and find out if there are no problems Continue reading

SXA - create sites/tenants with SPE

Published on September 19, 2018

Sitecore Experience Accelerator Index

Published on December 12, 2017