Jeremy Davis
Jeremy Davis
Sitecore, C# and web development
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What's this Accelerate business?

Summarising my recent user group talk

Published 25 March 2024

The other week I got the chance to do a talk for the Manchester user group in the UK about the what & why of Sitecore's Accelerate program. It seemed like a topic that was worth summarising here as well, for people who prefer to read their info rather than watch it...

Sitecore launched Accelerate at their conference events at the end of last year in Minneapolis. But if you didn't get the chance to attend those you might be unsure what's going on here, so here's my explanation:

What is it, and why does it exist?

Fundamentally, Sitecore want us to build better projects. When we create good work which makes clients happy, that reflects well on both us and them. But we're in a big period of change right now - as Sitecore shift focus away from the older style XP "Platform DXP" products towards modern composable solutions with XM Cloud. And as the products change, the standards and patterns required to do these projects well have to change too.

When I started with Sitecore they didn't really do "standards". You got a certain amount of info from certification courses, but there wasn't really any documentation of what a good project should look like and do. That gap was seen as a challenge for working with Sitecore by the analyst community. And their feedback about this was one of the drivers behind the Helix standards that were adopted for XP.

But those aren't really appropriate in XM Cloud projects. While the underlying CMS is still the same, the development process and architecture are different for headless. There's much more focus on JavaScript frameworks for building the website, and we're no longer supposed to put our customisations into the CMS itself. So much of what Helix had to say isn't really relevant for this work.

Plus it's fair to say that Helix had some challenges. If you've ever had to work on one of those "Habitat was my starter kit" projects where pretty much every C# class is in a separate .Net Project, then you've felt the pain here...

So Sitecore are making use of the knowledge they have internally about these new products. They have the architects and developers creating the software, who are defining how it should be used. And they have the teams of consultants who've been working with clients on the pathfinder projects for these technologies, so have seen exactly what does work and what has caused issues. They're using that organisational knowledge to distill the Accelerate documentation - Creating a set of patterns and standards for the headless era. They want to provide us with better and more relevant advice on how to do our XM Cloud projects well.

It's got more scope than Helix had too, as it's not just focused on developers and code. They're talking about Accelerate having four key pillars to cover overall:

  • Understand customer needs
  • Build a business case
  • Plan for implementation
  • Deliver for long term success

For each of those pillars there are patterns and standards to guide work on the project.

(It's worth pointing out that if you're building a .Net head or putting together API Services to support a headless site, you might still want to make use of the Clean Code patterns Helix was based on though. They do still have uses when you're doing C# dev work)

What's there now?

What we have right now is basically the "walking skeleton" of the whole thing. Sitecore have done a chunk of work to decide what their writing style should be. They've worked out the scope of the documentation they think they'll need and they've got the workflow in place to create and publish all this stuff.

Using that planning they've started pushing out articles. The home for this stuff is on their developer documentation site. But a good way of keeping up with what's going on is by following Jason St-Cyr (who runs their Dev Rel team) on your preferred social media site, as he's calling out things as they get added.

Their current work is split into three broad chunks:

  • Pre-Development This covers things you want to think about before you start the delivery work of a project. Things like project discovery and planning. Getting prepared for good developer experience. Plus ensuring good security and information architecture. Topics that you want to plan out before any implementation starts, to try and have the best experience and outcome you can for the project.

  • Implementation The core of developer work is covered here. Things like "sprint zero" set-up for development. Building out information architecture and components. Plus tasks like working with external data and search. The things most projects find themselves working on while code is being created and tested.

  • Appendices Here they're building up a collection of examples plus a glossary to help make sure the previous points make sense to new developers.

Most of the content is written in a "Describe a problem and explain solutions" pattern:

Some of this is fairly rigid "if you want to do X then the correct approach is Y" type documentation for situations where Sitecore have a fixed idea of what the right thing to do is. But other content tries to present a set of potential solutions - for situations where your preferences or project requirements might be a strong driver towards what the most appropriate solution is.

The current content is focused on XM Cloud and Next.js front ends right now, as these are the areas of biggest change for most Sitecore developers currently.

It's worth noting that there's also a call-to-action for us in here - Sitecore are interested our input. These pages all have a link for how we can contribute, where we have corrections or extra information we think would be of help.

What might we see later?

As suggested earlier, this work is in an early phase right now, where Sitecore are getting into the swing of publishing this documentation. So probably the most important thing we'll see over time is a lot more content. They're releasing things as they get written and approved, and as noted above you can follow Jason to hear more about these things as they're published.

We're also likely to see cross-over content on their other technologies too, over time. Docs for OrderCloud, Personalize and their other SaaS products. Especially content around how best to integrate them to your XM Cloud site.

But there's also going to be a second side to to Accelerate - an assessment framework to decide how well a solution follows the patterns. Sitecore do this currently with XP projects based on their current standards for sites, but in the future we'll see the same approach applied to XM Cloud projects and Accelerate's patterns for it. Audits done under these standards will partly be used to help clients understand the quality of a solution they've acquired, but will also give Sitecore valuable information about the work done by partners. Plus it can help guide future documentation towards things which we have trouble with.


This has the potential to be really important for us as developers and partners. Having these wider scoped standards and advice to work from as we learn the new technologies of Headless in the Sitecore world is going to be very important. Hopefully as this documentation gets fleshed out it's going to help everyone make better, more supportable projects. And that will be better for the ecosystem overall. Good projects mean happy clients.

So I'm enthusiastic to see more of this content.

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