Exploring Sitecore 8: Versioned Layouts

Gilbert Blocker Gilbert Blocker
March 04, 2015
Sitecore , Web Development

One of the new features of Sitecore 8 that is of interest is the introduction of versioned layouts. First, the term 'versioned layouts' is a bit misleading. Based on discussions with a few users familiar with the tool, it seems the term leads to an expectation of creating actual layout versioning for an item, rather than creating layout instances for an item's language version, which is the basis of this feature. So, for the sake of clarity within this post, I will refer to this feature as 'Language Version Layouts'. With that being said, lets delve more into this feature.

As mentioned above, Language Version Layouts give content editors the ability to create different layout definitions for each language version for an item. In Sitecore 8 there is now a Shared Layout tab and a Final Layout tab in the presentation details dialogue of an item. This is where the magic for the versioning is configured. The Shared Layout section stores the renderings that are shared across all language versions of an item, while the Final Layout section, stores the renderings that are specific to the current language version you are editing. The Final Layout details pane displays the final combination of presentation details, and determines what is rendered when viewing the current version of the item.

This new feature allows Sitecore users to design and market pages based on different languages. Content editors can now not only update the datasource on a component based on personalization rules, but can also present a different layout structure, including or removing components per language version. This gives the content editor and marketing team a wider range of variations for use. If a multi-language site has a different marketing plan or promotional offers based on the language, marketers are no longer restricted to rendering the same components for all languages. The language version layouts open many doors for a customized user experience.

There are however some things that Sitecore users need to remember about this new tool. There currently isn't a way to update the shared layouts field from the Experience Editor, without having to use the presentation details dialogue in the advanced tab. This can be a frustrating experience if the content team doesn't understand complex placeholder paths.

Have experience with the new Sitecore 8 Versioned Layouts? Share your knowledge and thoughts below.

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