Why does EPiServer Add-On Store matter?

EPiServer 7 was released last week. One of the features I have a good feeling about is the add-on store. In theory it would allow non-techies to install new site features using a web user interface. Actually it sounds quite scary at first. On the other hand Wordpress and its kin have had similar features for ages.

Feature packaging

In the past we’ve had a customer ask us to reuse a blog module from the EPiServer templates. It makes perfect sense not to implement everything from scratch. Unfortunately there isn’t a real blog module available from EPiServer. You can only install “Demo Templates” and have a lot of garbage installed at the same time. It’s not something we want on a production site.

In the future we could have a couple of alternative Blog Add-Ons to choose from in a similar situation. The Add-On store encourages developers to package the modules as sane-sized bundles so we wouldn’t have too much garbage to get rid of. If the Add-On installation is as easy as clicking “install” in the Add-On store, we get better results with less hassle.

It’s all about Prototyping

The Add-On store will give us feature packaging to manage the solution better. But it’s not the real reason I like the concept. The main benefit of the Add-On store is fast prototyping. There are many typical website features we discuss in every project. With the Add-On store we can install a basic implementation and start the discussion from there. It’s a lot more concrete, more visual and more immediate way to drive the design process. Most likely the need is a bit different than what the Add-On provides, but sometimes we might get lucky.