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EPiServer Composer 4

EPiServer Composer empowers web editors without programming skills, allowing them to create and alter the layout of web pages in an instant. With EPiServer Composer you can fully change the layout and behavior of web pages by using standard building blocks. This enables organizations to share templates and functions, resulting in an outstanding level of reuse.

The latest version, EPiServer Composer 4, not only has increased scalability and is more robust, but also includes improvements in user experience through dramatically increased responsiveness in the user interface. EPiServer Composer is one of the most requested add-on products for EPiServer CMS-based solutions and is praised by web editors for facilitating their day-to-day work routines.

In this article I’ll describe the concept of EPiServer Composer and what to consider when introducing EPiServer Composer on your website.

EPiServer Composer 4 collage

The EPiServer Composer Vision

Adaptation is the key in an ever changing world. EPiServer Composer is the key to quickly react and adapt your online presence at a lower cost, in less time and with less hassle.

What if you could move content and layout areas around on a web page, share functions between pages, or create templates for yourself and others to reuse? Imagine that you have multiple, changing websites, where each site must be differentiated from the others? Then EPiServer Composer is the answer.

Benefits of EPiServer Composer

  • Cost efficient - by sharing and reusing standard components and templates, certain customers have reduced more than 75% of their web operations budget.
  • Quickly react and adapt your website to the current situation and requirements.
  • Streamlined optimization process for your online presence together with EPiServer CMO, Google Web Optimizer or similar optimization tools.

Use EPiServer Composer to easily and quickly adapt your online presence

EPiServer Composer is the perfect tool when you need to frequently change the appearance of websites, or when you know that you will be publishing multiple websites with different layouts. With EPiServer Composer you can reuse the same set of content blocks on all your sites.

Save time and effort

Instead of creating and developing a multitude of templates for a large corporate website, it's possible to reuse 20 content blocks created with EPiServer Composer. Apart from a more efficient way of working this also brings significant savings to a large web project. All the following websites can then be produced with the same set of functions, reducing development to a minimum.

Features of EPiServer Composer?

Composer toolboxDrag and Drop from Function Library

The appearance of web pages is no longer tied to EPiServer CMS templates. EPiServer Composer makes all functions available within the function library, allowing editors to create their own pages by combining the available templates and functions.

Content Areas

Just like EPiServer CMS, EPiServer Composer uses page types. The difference is that the page types in EPiServer Composer can consist of basic elements like navigation, page header/footer and other similar elements just like a standard EPiServer CMS page, but more importantly empty content areas that can be filled with layout and content blocks 

Content and layout blocks represent the functions of the page and are placed in the content area. Many EPiServer Composer projects only require two Composer page types – one for the start page and a second one to be used when creating pages on the rest of the website. 

 

Content and Layout Blocks

Content blocksThe functions of the page are created by placing content and layout blocks in the content area. Content blocks are resemble traditional page types in EPiServer CMS. The blocks are smaller isolated functions that can be anything from a simple editor to complex applications integrated with other systems. A content block can be any web function, for instance a text with heading, an image, a form, an RSS listing or a list of files or pages. 

Layout blocksThe functions are simply a set of EPiServer CMS pages and properties stored separately in the page tree structure, which makes it possible to use for access rights and date settings on smaller elements, previously possible only on page level.

The layout blocks on the other hand are used to create the distribution of the page by dividing the content area into smaller areas. All content blocks can be used without layout blocks, but would then adapt to full width. 

 

The EPiServer Composer Environment

There are different scenarios for setting up the EPiServer CMS/EPiServer Composer architecture. Websites often run on an EPiServer CMS Enterprise solution, meaning that the blocks will be available for reuse on all websites. You can also make EPiServer Composer templates and content blocks available on different/separate websites through the export/import function.

Add EPiServer Composer from Start

If possible, include EPiServer Composer in your EPiServer CMS website right from the start in order to maximize the full efficiency benefits. The real cost savings come with each additional site that you create or change after building the first one.

Adding EPiServer Composer to your existing EPiServer CMS website

If you are already running on an EPiServer CMS site, EPiServer Composer content area blocks can also be integrated into an existing EPiServer CMS template.

Upgrading to EPiServer Composer 4

We have ensured that the upgrade process is as smooth as possible when taking your EPiServer CMS 5 site to the next level with EPiServer CMS 6. Upgrading most sites should be fairly easy without major breaking changes in the latest EPiServer CMS release. It's also possible to upgrade to EPiServer Composer 4 from version 3.2.6. 

The EPiServer Composer Project

Web projects including EPiServer Composer are not very different from "normal" web projects, but there are a few things to consider before you start:

  • Start by carefully analyzing the requirements for your website and then create a list of web functions (content blocks). Think of a core platform rather than a first site.
  • In the list of web functions, identify global functions that are common and can be reused on a majority of the websites.
  • Don’t get stuck spending too much time designing layout templates in Photoshop, focus on the separate graphical elements instead. Composer will do the job of combining them!
  • Be extra careful to separate layout from functionality, and if possible do not include style, color or formatting in the web functions.
  • Apply EPiServer Composer to dynamic pages, where you really want to benefit from a flexible layout. For more static content like news or article items, it is better to use EPiServer CMS page templates/pages, and then use Composer to list or structure them.

Set Access Rights Carefully

With a powerful tool like EPiServer Composer you will find whole new possibilities and most likely also new ways of working with your website. Before you start you should carefully consider the setup of access rights:

  • Which editors/groups will be able to create content/layout/global blocks and templates?
  • Where on the web page/in which content area can editors drop content blocks and which blocks?
  • Where in the website structure will editors/group have access rights? 

Summary

EPiServer Composer is a module for EPiServer CMS, providing web editors with a whole new way of working with the layout of web pages. EPiServer Composer is an option for organizations in the need of creating several websites with different or changing appearances. 

Are you interested in EPiServer Composer? Feel free to get in touch by e-mail composer@episerver.com.

Download EPiServer Composer 4.0

chris.randall@valtech.com
( By chris.randall@valtech.com, 10/19/2010 3:49:36 PM)

I have issues getting EPiServer Composer to install on Windows 7. Composer exits saying that it need EPiServer 6.0.530.0 to be installed - though it already IS installed!

( 5/12/2011 1:34:18 PM)

This is not working in combination with CMO 2.0!

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