At a Glance

Released on
05/01/2012
End of Life
05/01/2013
New Features
8
Improvements
11
Issues Resolved
3

Cascade Server 7.0

Cascade Server 7.0 introduces some new major features: Twitter Feed Block, Site Clone, Unpublish when Moving, Renaming, or Expiring Assets, Spectate Connector, Site Import/Export, Inline Regions, Improved Asset Chooser, System Import/Export, Index Block Rendering Cache, and History Menu.

  View Requirements

Modules - Twitter Feed Block

Modules

Cascade 7 introduces the concept of Modules, or general purpose components that make it easier for end users to generate dynamic content that would normally require more technical expertise.

Twitter Feed Block

The Twitter Feed Block is the first Module available in Cascade.  It allows users to insert a feed of Twitter comments into any region or block chooser on a Page.  This Block can be configured to pull only tweets or both tweets and mentions for a specific Twitter account; or it can pull tweets using a generic search query.

Twitter feed block example

Deep Site Copy

Copying a Site will now copy all of its contents including both Home Area and Administration Area assets.  Links contained in assets copied into the new Site are also re-aligned to point to assets within the same copied Site. For example, if Page A in Site 1 linked to Page B in Site 1, the Page A created in the new Site will link to Page B created in the new Site.

A number of other asset relationships are also updated during the Site copy process making it easy to stamp out new Sites from a template Site.

Unpublish when Moving, Renaming, or Expiring Assets

Users now have the ability to unpublish content when it is moved or renamed.  This helps to avoid leaving stale files on the webserver after an asset has been moved.  Asset expiration will now also result in an asset being automatically unpublished when enabled via Site or System preferences.

move rename screen

Spectate Connector

A new Connector is available which allows users to embed forms from Spectate via the WYSIWYG.

Spectate is Hannon Hill's Inbound Marketing product that allows users to easily create web forms, captures form submissions and provides email notifications to users when their forms are submitted. Cascade clients get free access to a Spectate Group account. Contact help@spectate.com for information about getting your account configured.

After creating and verifying a Spectate Connector, a Spectate button spectate icon will appear in the WYSIWYG toolbar.

spectate button

Clicking the Spectate button will present the user with a dialog containing all Spectate forms that are available to the Spectate account configured in the Connector.

spectate dialog

After clicking the Insert button, a placeholder image is displayed where the Spectate form will reside in the page content.

spectate placeholder

Site Import/Export

It is now possible to export an entire Site to an external file which can be imported into another Cascade instance running the same version of Cascade.  This will allow clients using more than one instance of Cascade (e.g. a development instsance and a production instance) to easily move content from one instance to another.

Inline Regions

It is now possible to allow users to modify Block assignments for Page Regions on the main editing screen for Pages.  When editing a Configuration Set, the User is presented with options allowing any region to be "inlined".  Once the region is inlined, it will be displayed in a new section of the Page edit screen called "Inline Regions".

Inline Regions example

A "Help Text" field is available for each region and behaves much like the "Help Text" field available on data definition fields.  If present, help text will appear when the user hovers over a ? icon displayed next to the region on the page edit screen.

It is also possible to allow inline Block assignments to be applied to the Configuration Set itself.  This allows non-technical users to apply the same block across similar pages.

Inline Regions example #2

Improved Asset Chooser

The Cascade chooser widget has undergone a round of improvements.  When clicking on a chooser, a text box will now appear into which search terms can be typed.  Below the text box, a dropdown will appear that contains both recent history items matching the type of the chooser as well as search results matching the text in the chooser text box.

Improved Asset Chooser #1

The old chooser pop-up window has been converted into an inline overlay and can be used in the exact same manner as the old chooser.  This interface can be accessed by clicking the browse icon next to the chooser text or by clicking the "Browse..." item that is displayed in the dropdown menu.

Improved Asset Chooser #2

System Import/Export

A new tool is now available from the System Menu (System Menu -> Utilities -> Database Tools -> Export Database) which allows Cascade administrators to generate an XML dump of the entire Cascade database.  This will help expedite the support process whenever a database dump is required in order to diagnose a problem.  

One significant advantage of this tool over acquiring a regular database export is that by default, File asset content is not included in the export.  This cuts down on the export size dramatically and ensures that the amount of time necessary to transfer the dump to us is minimal.  Secondly, the dump file is automatically compressed which can reduce the dump size by another order of magnitude.

SQL Server Clients

Please note that the System Import/Export tool requires that Snapshot Isolation Transactions be allowed.  The Snapshot Isolation Level can be enabled by using the following query:

ALTER DATABASE <database name goes here> SET ALLOW_SNAPSHOT_ISOLATION ON

There cannot be any open connections to the database when this query is executed.

Rendering Cache

Certain Index Blocks and Structured Data will now be cached between asset renderings. This greatly improves render times for Pages using Index Blocks and Structured Data that is cacheable. Some rendering scenarios (mostly those involving circular asset references or feed blocks) will not see major improvements in rendering speed, but nevertheless these assets will render faster in most cases.

Note that increased disk space is now required on the application server itself as the rendering cache exists on the disk. See our requirements page for updated application server hardware requirements.

Important!

Index Block and Structured Data rendering behavior has been changed with the new rendering cache. It is possible that Pages and Index Blocks will render differently in 7.0 than they did in past verions. Do not fret! We have included a system preference under the "General" tab that allows clients to enable the old rendering behavior. Note that this is a system-wide preference and will affect all renderings. Enabling this preference will forfeit any performance gains achieved by using the new caching strategy and is only meant to be a last resort for clients having issues with index blocks being too large or too different in content from previous versions of Cascade.

The rendering changes in 7 allow Index Blocks and Structured Data to be rendered in a more deterministic fashion. In previous versions of Cascade, there exist rendering scenarios in which rendering an asset and then rendering it again, after making no changes to the Page's or any related assets' contents, could result in different content being generated for the Page. This has been rectified in 7. Unfortunately, this fix can cause index blocks to generate much more content than they did before.

New Rendering Related Preferences

Under General Preferences:

Index Block Rendering Cache: This preference has 2 checkboxes  

  • Enabled: When checked will cause Cascade to cache asset renderings; if unchecked will cause Cascade to cache no asset renderings at all
  • Use legacy caching strategy: When checked will cause Cascade to render and cache assets as it did in versions prior to 7 meaning that asset content is not cached between asset renderings; if left unchecked, Cascade will cache all content that can be cached so that it can be used on subsequent asset renderings
Under Content Preferences:
  • Maximum Rendered Size of an Index Block (MB): This preference puts a cap on the amount of content that can be generated by an index block before an error is generated and the block rendering is aborted.  Using this preference will help prevent OutOfMemory errors that can occur when Index Blocks get too large.  OutOfMemory errors can cause widespread instability in the system.

History Menu

The History link in the top menu is now expandable. When users click on the History they do not need to wait for the page load anymore. The History Menu appears instantly instead. In addition to that, assets in the menu have a sub-menu that displays the same items as context menu does. This means that users can for example navigate directly to an edit screen of an asset that they visited recently. Users still have an option to see the old screen by clicking on the "Full History" item.

History Menu Screenshot

New Features

  • [CSI-331] - Add a preference to be able to use the old way of index block render caching system-wide
  • [CSI-336] - Database Export Tool
  • [CSI-337] - Spectate Connector - Embed Spectate forms in the WYSIWYG
  • [CSI-342] - Site Copy
  • [CSI-344] - Twitter Feed Module
  • [CSI-345] - Inline Page Regions
  • [CSI-354] - Site Import / Export
  • [CSI-355] - Unpublish asset when moves, renamed or expired to a different folder

Improvements

  • [CSI-134] - Make folder copy update page-level configurations that point to blocks/formats within the folder
  • [CSI-332] - Reduce publishing memory usage
  • [CSI-334] - Fix for sporadic connection errors on MySQL
  • [CSI-338] - Improvements to the performance of Index Block Rendering
  • [CSI-339] - Installer: Change 'Quit' to 'Finish'
  • [CSI-340] - Add FieldTool to Velocity
  • [CSI-346] - Improve the New Menu Performance
  • [CSI-347] - Add Administration area assets and Sites to Search
  • [CSI-348] - Improved HTML 5 Support
  • [CSI-349] - Upgrade JRE in the installation package from 1.5 to 1.6
  • [CSI-350] - New asset chooser with type-ahead search and history
  • [CSI-351] - Add sent/received date to Message list and sort by it
  • [CSI-353] - Convert history top menu item into a dropdown

Issues Resolved

  • [CSI-343] - Automatic Creation of Blocks for new Templates doesn't work in a site
  • [CSI-352] - Cannot submit page publish when no page configs or dests are selected but there are connectors available
  • [CSI-89] - Comments missing from workflow in email reports

Full Installation Instructions

Cascade 7.0 does not support upgrading using the ROOT.war file, please install Cascade to a new location using one of the OS-specific packages or the ZIP package.  The new installation should be configured to point to the existing database.

You'll need to manually apply any further customization you've made to Cascade including:

  • customizations to the tomcat/conf/context.xml file not including the database configuration which is set by the installer
  • customizations to the tomcat/conf/server.xml file not including the HTTP port which is set by the installer
  • customizations to the tomcat/conf/web.xml file
  • copying custom Asset Factory plugins, Publish Triggers, custom authentication modules from the tomcat/webapps/ROOT/WEB-INF/lib directory to the new installation folder's tomcat/webapps/ROOT/WEB-INF/lib directory

**IMPORTANT: Be sure to keep copies of the following files from existing installations on hand:

  • tomcat/conf/context.xml
  • tomcat/conf/server.xml
  • tomcat/conf/web.xml

This will allow you to reference any modifications that may have been made for previous installs.

Web Services API

The Cascade Web Services API has changed.  Existing web services scripts should be re-compiled (where applicable) and tested against a test Cascade instance to ensure compatibility with the latest updates.  Please see the Web Services changelog for a complete list of the changes.

JRE Upgrade

Please be aware that the JRE bundled with Tomcat has been upgraded from version 1.5 to version 1.6.  This is still the 32 bit version of the JRE.

SQL Server Upgrade

For clients using SQL Server, if you wish to use the System Export tool, you must first apply a permissions change outlined in the System Export section of the release summary.

Caching and Disk Space on the Application Server

With the new caching that we've added to Cascade 7 there is a need for more disk space on the application server to store this cache. To be on the safe side, we recommend that you have at least another 2-4 GB of disk space available for the cache to use. It is possible for us to tune the cache to require less disk space if space becomes an issue for you.

IMPORTANT: In addition to the requirements change noted above for caching, all organizations using Load Balancing must follow the instructions located here.

First Time Installation?

Be sure to import our default database schema prior to installing Cascade Server for the first time. Then follow our standard installation instructions.

Upgrade Steps

  1. Shut down your currently running Cascade Server instance.
  2. Before you upgrade, we strongly recommend that you back-up your production database. as well as set up a test instance and perform a trial run of the upgrade. All customers are entitled to a test license for this purpose.
  3. Read the release notes and upgrade guides for all releases between your version and the latest version.
  4. If your current version of Cascade is earlier than 7.0, then you must use the full installation instructions.
  5. If your current version of Cascade is 7.0 or later, you can perform a full installation or upgrade in place using the ROOT.war installation.

Warnings:

You must upgrade to at least Cascade Server 5.5 before upgrading to Cascade 6 or Cascade 7.

Contact Hannon Hill Support (support@hannonhill.com) if deploying Cascade Server for the first time in a load-balanced environment as this will require a special license.