External Assets in Episerver Commerce
Episerver succeeded in their goal of narrowing the gap between e-commerce and digital marketing content. They created the ability to connect content, marketing and commerce to create a unified experiences for their customers. From a technical perspective, it means that the unique Episerver content model was introduced to Episerver Commerce. It leveraged some of the key concepts of working with content from the successful Episerver CMS 7 platform and thereby bridged the gap between the isolated catalogue in Episerver’s Commerce Manager and the existing authoring and development experience.
We are happy about above solution. It definitely helps us creating a unified experience and easier workflow for our clients working across the Episerver CMS and Episerver Commerce. We’ve been implementing a big variety of custom content providers for Episerver CMS, but we are sometimes also faced with the question: Can we use the same content as an asset to our products? The answer is of course yes.
Getting external assets into Episerver Commerce
Let me start with a real life example. We were requested to give authors the ability to work with videos, from an external video provider, as content across an Episerver CMS 9 and Episerver Commerce 9 solution. It basically means, that the client expected a comprehensive list of videos, fed directly into the authoring experience, being available for them to use these as CMS content and catalogue assets – e.g. via drag-and-drop. We ended up implementing a simple content provider. It easily solved the task for Episerver CMS and also brought us 90% of the way for Episerver Commerce.
I won’t cover details about how to implement a custom content provider, but will instead tell you about two important details that you have to be aware of when asked to support external content as product assets in Episerver Commerce. First off, the custom content provider has to be available in the Catalogue interface, and secondly, the content has to be MediaData.
We can easily tell Episerver Commerce to include our custom content provider in the Catalogue interface by using an extra plug-in area called “/episerver/commerce/assets/defaultgroup”.
Next step is to make sure that the content your provider serves are inheriting Episerver’s own MediaData. Reason is that Episerver has a restriction to only allow MediaData as assets.
That was simple. Please be aware that this also means that your Episerver CMS authoring interface will treat your custom content as Media and these will then be treated the same way as existing images and documents.
Please note that all details regarding implementing the custom content provider has been left out of my post. It is simply because that topic has been covered numerous times before and I will instead recommend to read e.g. Per Magne Skuseth’s introduction to this amazing feature.