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Advanced CMS

Advanced Reviews

Build

This project is a set of useful enhancements that may gradually improve the reviewing process in organizations using EPiServer as their CMS.

It solves a few major issues the Authors identified during their journey with EPiServer and after working on a number of EPiServer related enterprise solutions.

The list of features (click to see more details about each section):

See it in action:

Advanced Reviews

Install

Install-Package Advanced.CMS.AdvancedReviews

https://nuget.optimizely.com/package/?id=Advanced.CMS.AdvancedReviews

In order to start using AdvancedReviews you need to add it explicitly to your site. Please add the following statement to your Startup.cs

public class Startup
{
    ...
    public void ConfigureServices(IServiceCollection services)
    {
        ...
        services.AddAdvancedReviews();
        ...
    }
    ...
}

AddAdvancedReviews extension method also accepts optional parameter of Action which lets you configure the add-on according to your needs.

Features

Preview unpublished content

Allow end users to preview unpublished and unreviewed content.

As we all know, an EPiServer page is usually not self-contained but rather consists of many other content items like blocks or media files.

In such scenarios it is very hard for reviewers to see the "big picture". Let's say a page consists of several blocks and a few images. Now, in case the page author changed all those blocks and images the reviewer will have to manually go through all of them and approve them individually without, in fact, being able to see those changes in the actual page context.

This project gives the editors a way to generate a unique URL that will present the page exactly as they see it. The preview engine will ignore content status and the content approval process.

Preview unpublished content

Preview unpublished projects

Allow end users to preview unpublished and unreviewed projects.

By default, Episerver allows the preview project only inside the Edit Mode. However, it is often useful to ask users that do not have Edit Mode accounts to review a project before publishing.

All external review links created with the Project Mode active will allow its users to access all project content items. Preview unpublished projects

Context aware smart reviewing

In the current workflow, the reviewer can just provide a single comment that has to include all comments for a particular content version. Then, it is the editor's responsibility to match the issues raised by the reviewer with specific parts of the page.

This project aims at moving the comments closer to the specific page fragments which will help editors to understand & fix the issues faster. Pin review 1

You can also take screenshots of your page and highlight specific parts to make it clear to the editor what the concern is. Pin review 2

It is also important to set the priority to each comment to make it clear to the editor which comments are important and which ones are just cosmetic or optional. Pin review 3

After receiving such comments the author of the content will see all issues raised by the reviewer.

Pin answer 1

The author can respond to each of them individually by adding a reply message or attaching another screenshot with explanations.

Once a Pin is reviewed it can be marked as Resolved

Pin answer 2

All pins are saved and can be reviewed at any time in a dedicated Review pane.

Pin answer 3

Integration with default approval workflow

Let's say we configure a very basic approval workflow with a single approval step and a single reviewer.

We will also force the reviewer to provide a comment when either approving or declining the changes. Configure approval

Later on, an editor decides to send the page for review. Approval 1

The reviewer can now use Pins to comment on specific parts of the page and use those comments to populate the Decline message Approval answer

If the reviewer ever tries to approve content that still has some unresolved Pins, a prompt will be shown. Approval prompt

Each pin is in fact a standalone Thread the can go on until both Reviewer and the Author are satisfied with the end result.

Options

There are few settings related with external review. They are all set using Options class:

Option Default Description
NotificationsOptions NotificationsOptions Allow to configure how notifications work

NotificationsOptions

Option Default Description
NotificationsEnabled bool Adding a new comment triggers a notification to all participants

External reviewers

This feature is a combination of the previous ones. It is to allow external reviewers, so the user that may not be a part of your organization, or simply users who are reluctant to learn EPiServer to access unpublished data and provide feedback if needed.

Expirable token based urls

All generated links are token-based. You can generate as many links as needed, each of them can be revoked at any time.

Additionally, all urls are time limited (the TimeSpan can be configured, please look further down) which means that after a specific amount of time such link will no longer work.

Visual content reviews

You can visually express issues in reviewed content by highlighting or adding screenshots

Once you decide to attach a screenshot then we will automatically determine the dimensions of the EPiServer property that was clicked on and preselect it. The default crop can be changed according to your needs.

The highlighting tool allows you to clear and redraw.

Screenshot manipulation

External reviews

Allow to display draft content version without logging to Episerver.

External review component

This is an Edit mode component used to generate external review links. There are two types of links:

  • view - external reviewer can preview draft content version
  • editable - external reviewver can add comments using advanced review widget

External review links component

Share dialog

Editor can share external review links using share dialog. The [#link#] constant will be replaced with link to content.

External review share dialog

Below is an email example:

External review email example

Options

There are few settings related with external review. They are all set using Options class:

Option Default Description
ContentPreviewUrl externalContentView path prefix added before token for "View" preview links
IsEnabled true is the add-on enabled
EmailSubject [subject email template] email subject template
EmailEdit [email template] email body template used for readonly content links
EmailView [email template] email body template used for editable links
EditableLinksEnabled false When true then Editor can create editable links that allow external reviewers to add comments
ViewLinkValidTo 5 days For how long view link is valid
EditLinkValidTo 5 days For how long editable link is valid
ProlongDays 5 days Number of days added to link valid date
PinCodeSecurity PinCodeSecurityOptions Settings specific to links security
Restrictions ExternalReviewRestrictionOptions Restrictions around external reviewers

ExternalReviewRestrictionOptions

Option Default Description
MaxReviewLocationsForContent int.MaxValue How many pins can be added by an external reviewer
MaxCommentsForReviewLocation int.MaxValue How many comments can be added by an external reviewer to one pin
MaxCommentLength int.MaxValue Max length of a comment

PinCodeSecurityOptions

Option Default Description
Enabled false When true, then PIN code check is enabled
Required false When true, it would not be possible to create a new a new link without a PIN
ExternalReviewLoginUrl ExternalReviewLogin URL for login page
RolesWithoutPin WebEditors & WebAdmins Roles that can access links without PIN
AuthenticationCookieLifeTime 5 minutes For how long authentication cookie should be valid
CodeLength 4 PIN code length

SEO Toolbox (Mogul SEO Manager) settings.

If you are using SEO toolbox as redirect manager, you have to add the below paths as ignored patterns, otherwise both View only review and Editable links will not work, it means it always take you the published page with, instead of displaying drafted content.

Go to : Admin > Admin > Tools > SEO Toobox > Settings > Settings > Ignored Patterns

Add below two paths :

/externalContentView/ /externalPageReview

Examples

This snippet turns on editable review links:

[InitializableModule]
[ModuleDependency(typeof(FrameworkInitialization))]
public class ExternalReviewInitialization : IConfigurableModule
{
    public void ConfigureContainer(ServiceConfigurationContext context)
    {
        context.Services.Configure<ExternalReviewOptions>(options =>
        {
            options.EditableLinksEnabled = true;          
        });
    }

    public void Initialize(InitializationEngine context) { }

    public void Uninitialize(InitializationEngine context) { }
}

This snippet additionally turns on pin security:

[InitializableModule]
[ModuleDependency(typeof(FrameworkInitialization))]
public class ExternalReviewInitialization : IConfigurableModule
{
    public void ConfigureContainer(ServiceConfigurationContext context)
    {
        context.Services.Configure<ExternalReviewOptions>(options =>
        {
            options.EditableLinksEnabled = true;
            options.PinCodeSecurity.Enabled = true;
            options.PinCodeSecurity.CodeLength = 4;            
        });
    }

    public void Initialize(InitializationEngine context) { }

    public void Uninitialize(InitializationEngine context) { }
}

This snippet makes the pin required for all VIEW links:

[InitializableModule]
[ModuleDependency(typeof(FrameworkInitialization))]
public class ExternalReviewInitialization : IConfigurableModule
{
    public void ConfigureContainer(ServiceConfigurationContext context)
    {
        context.Services.Configure<ExternalReviewOptions>(options =>
        {
            options.EditableLinksEnabled = true;
            options.PinCodeSecurity.Enabled = true;
            options.PinCodeSecurity.Required = true;
            options.PinCodeSecurity.CodeLength = 4;
        });
    }

    public void Initialize(InitializationEngine context) { }

    public void Uninitialize(InitializationEngine context) { }
}

While this one completely disables the add-on, all custom routes, ui elements etc.

[InitializableModule]
[ModuleDependency(typeof(FrameworkInitialization))]
public class ExternalReviewInitialization : IConfigurableModule
{
    public void ConfigureContainer(ServiceConfigurationContext context)
    {
        context.Services.Configure<ExternalReviewOptions>(options =>
        {
            options.IsEnabled = false;            
        });
    }

    public void Initialize(InitializationEngine context) { }

    public void Uninitialize(InitializationEngine context) { }
}

For contributors

This is our personal project that we intend to maintain.

If you would like to contribute in any way, create a new feature, fix a bug or help with the documentation then we would really appreciate any kind of contributions.

Bug reporting

We really appreciate bug reports. But please make sure that you include as many details as possible. We spent a lot of time on setting up the solution so it's possible to run the whole thing by just cloning the repo and calling a single command. That makes it super easy for you to fork this repo and create a reproducible environment. That will significanly speed up a potential bugfix release for you.

Please remember that this is our personal project developed during our free time and any kind of help from users is highly appreciated.

Development (if you would like to help in development)

$ setup.cmd
$ site.cmd

And your IISExpress Alloy with all dependencies should be up and running.

There are a few more useful commands like:

build.cmd

which builds both C# code and bundles all javascript dependencies, and

pack.ps1

that creates a nuget package.

About

This is an Open Source add-on that improves the reviewing process and lets external users to view & review content items or whole projects without the need to access the Edit Mode.

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