Sitecore Milwaukee User Group - April 18, 2019

Spring came and so did the Sitecore Milwaukee User Group. The Milwaukee Sitecore User Group hosts about one meetup per season. This time, the meetup was hosted by Layer-One Media in their Milwaukee office. 

The meetup started with pizza and beer, that was graciously provided by Paragon Consulting. It gave everyone a great opportunity to talk to some of the local Sitecore developers.

Sitecore Data Exchange Framework

Rob Reilley @reilleyweb

The first topic was Sitecore's Data Exchange Framework and was presented by Sitecore MVP Rob Reilley @reilleyweb. Me being a newer Sitecore developer, I had not heard of or used the Data Exchange Framework before.

For those who, like me, didn't know, the Data Exchange Framework is a module officially supported by Sitecore that is designed to help import and export data in and out of Sitecore. It can be used to import data to several different connectors (Reddit, SQL, etc.) Rob gave a great presentation, showing the utility of the framework, how to set it up, and even gave us an example of it in action.

Rob Reilley giving a presentation

Sitecore with Voice-Activated Assistance

Ben Adamski @benamaster and Jeroen de Groot @groot_de_jeroen

The second topic was on integrating Sitecore with a Voice-Activated Assistance. This was a unique presentation because it mostly focused on non-Sitecore technology, but it Ben and Jeroen did a great job of tying it all together.

Ben Adamski and Jeroen de Groot presenting

The presentation first explained what Voice-Activated Assistance technology is and discussed the currently competing technologies: Amazon's Alexa, Google's Assistant, Microsoft's Cortana and Apple's Siri. They also made the prediction that Voice-Activated Assistance will be a technology that continues to advance to the point that most interactions with a computer will be through voice rather than through a touchscreen or a conventional keyboard/mouse.

One part of the presentation that I found particularly interesting was the breakdown of Amazon's Alexa Voice Assistance Model. They introduced concepts of skills, intents, utterances and slots, which are the main building blocks of such a model. A skill, is an app that is interacting with via Amazon Alexa. Intents are the functions that the skill can do. Utterances are various phrases that would map to the intent. Slots are the variables within those utterances that the intent would then use as inputs to perform its function.

In the end, Ben and Jeroen showcased an Alexa Skill that interacted with a running Sitecore environment. It was basic but very interesting to see, showing where the future might be headed.

All in all, these were a great set of presentations. Thank you to Sitecore MVP Derek Dysart @DDysart and Joe Ouimet @jouimet for putting together another worthwhile meetup!

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