In a previous post, I talked about how Kentico are entering a new technical partnership with Ucommerce to broaden the e-commerce capabilities available. We were originally waiting for Kentico 11 to be released (on December 11th, 2017), but it is available now for Kentico 10 already. In preparation for the bigger release, Ucommerce has been running some Master Class training courses to help get Kentico developers up-to-speed.
How can you learn
As mentioned above, Ucommerce offers a free Master Class training course which anyone can sign up to. This training is in the form of a series of webinars (in my case, four half days) in which you work through a series of examples with Ucommerce’s trainers to gain an understanding of the inner-workings of Ucommerce and their approach to development. I think for the hardened Kentico developer this development approach may seem quite a change - especially so for those who have only really done Kentico development using the portal engine.
To support the training, there are some prerequisites that you need to work on - primarily this involves installing a fresh copy of Kentico on your development machine, downloading a Visual Studio solution full of projects that you will work on during the course, and installing the Ucommerce Accelerator. Handily, Ucommerce has packaged up the accelerator and Kentico installation in a single download - with source code and a SQL Server bacpac - so that makes things a little easier.
I didn’t have any issues with the setup here, but it really depends on how your network is configured. Some people did have issues, and Ilesh Mistry has written a post on some of the issues encountered with the Ucommerce setup and how to overcome them.
Each topic is approached by way of an introduction to the topic and a walk-through of the key points. Following that there will be some time for you to demonstrate what you’ve learned on your own site. Don’t worry if you get stuck on something - there are plenty of other people on the course who are able to help out in the chat window, and also the Ucommerce guys themselves step in if they need to. In addition, at the end of each day, you can download a new copy of the code that includes all of the examples from the previous day.
What do you learn
The trainers work through a number of scenarios with you during the training course, which results in building up a simple e-commerce store based upon the Ucommerce sample site called Avenue Clothing (you quickly get used to a few key products in their catalogue).
Truth be told, the first two days felt a little slow, but I think that will really depend on your level of experience. The point of these days appears to be to firm up the basic knowledge of the core functionality of Ucommerce. In these days you can expect gain familiarity with the Ucommerce UI and to work on areas such as:
- Category navigation and landing pages
- Product listings and product detail pages
- Price lists and discounts
- Baskets and orders
- Shipping and payment methods
By the end of this, you’ll be familiar with pipelines, configuration files, and various aspects of the Ucommerce API
I’ll point out here that, if you’re not familiar with it, you should probably read up on dependency injection a little to get an understanding. Ucommerce use Castle Windsor for their IoC container, so reading a bit about that will help too.
Once this is done, you’ve got some of the basics down and you’re ready to move on to some of the more advanced topic in a Deep Dive. This lets you explore the ways in which you can extend Ucommerce to meet your business requirements. You’ll cover topics including different querying techniques, overriding the catalogue context, extending the pipelines, creating custom data types, and overriding features such as the tax calculations. This is much more fast paced than the first half of the course, so you need to stay alert.
Personally, I would have liked some focus on how to extend the Ucommerce UI, as a typical project for me involves creating something in the CMS admin that does not exist out of the box. An example of this would be the concept of a customer; customers exist, but they’re not really surfaced in the UI that I would expect, so I’ll be extending this to perform the operations that customer service representatives normally expect.
The Ucommerce Master Class for Kentico is a good place to get a foundation in Ucommerce and how it works with Kentico. As a Kentico developer, you’re potentially going to have some new concepts to deal with and a new UI to get to grips with. The good news is that the Ucommerce framework looks to be extremely flexible. This means that anything that isn’t out of hte box can be built. This isn’t the sum of all knowledge about Ucommerce, but it’s a good start. Coupled with the Ucommerce online documentation and the Ucommerce buddy programme, it’s a great way to help ensure success in your next/first Kentico Ucommerce solution.