Sitecore Backend Developer: In a Headless World

I’ve heard concerns from many Sitecore .NET developers about the new tech DXP stack. There are so many new products and features being released. .NET is being mentioned less and less. How is this going to impact my day to day? How is this going to impact my career? Why is this shift happening? Is there really a benefit making these sweeping changes?

I was in this camp less than a year ago. Sitecore JSS has been around for years but I never fully bought in. I understood the main concepts but it felt like we had one foot in .NET and a toe in headless. In the early days of JSS, we had the same backend work and added React code. We still had CM and CD servers, heavy Sitecore pipeline customizations. It felt like a lateral move that didn’t pay off.

For me, Sitecore + Next.js is the game changer. Check out my article for more details. Next.js gives us SSG (static site generation) and removes the need for CD servers. These two features can’t be done in MVC, and those alone are in my opinion worth digging into. Every month since digging in, I’m discovering more benefits.

I won’t lie there is a learning curve transitioning from .NET to Next.js. But if you lived through .NET WebForms to MVC there was a learning curve too. You won’t find my folks saying I miss page lifecycles; why can’t I go back to the good ‘ole days. The hardest part is not having the muscle memory yet. Each time I start getting too comfortable, I realize there is still plenty to learn. Which is frustrating and fun!

What’s the same?

It’s still Sitecore. Page presentation details are still stored as XML. Experience Editor and inline editing works the same way as MVC (except for Edit Frames).

Our core work is the same:

  • Building good IA (information architecture)
    • Template definitions
  • Building good AX (authoring experience)
    • Intuitive authoring
  • Rendering and rendering parameter creation
  • Multisite organization
  • Building secure sites
  • Integrating with third-parties
  • Creating search experiences
  • Caching for maximum site speed
  • Feature development
  • SEO features
  • and number one: Working with business and marketing to deliver value

How we do our work is different.

I don’t write much C# code anymore. We still have custom Sitecore pipeline changes sprinkled in here and there. But that work was largely done at the beginning of our project.

That’s ok with me. My value is in delivering a business objective, not in being limited to a particular technology or stack. I’m thrilled I don’t write WebForms (often), VB.NET or WPF applications anymore. Having worked with Next.js I’m sure I’ll feel the same way about .NET pretty soon. We’re not going to be flipping a switch and only doing Next.js development today; but the transition away from .NET is underway.

We’ve got this! And if you’ve been developing for awhile you’ve done this!