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Take a Look at What's Coming Up in 2018.2 for NetSuite Commerce Developers

We are pleased to announce the upcoming release of NetSuite 2018.2, the latest update to the ERP software underpinning NetSuite Commerce, as well as 2018.2, the latest update to SuiteCommerce. The ERP release is phased, which means that not all customers will get the release immediately: you will be notified about your position in the schedule. As for the SuiteCommerce bundle, it will be released soon.

You will note that from this release of SuiteCommerce, it is the end of the road for mountain-themed names. We will now match the names of SuiteCommerce releases to the core code releases they correspond to.

Specifically for this release, note that if you plan to start developing a 2018.2 site (or migrate your code to it), you must be using the 2018.2 version of core code.

What I want to do in this blog post is highlight the changes, improvements, and new features most appropriate for NetSuite Commerce developers. However, you should, of course, thoroughly read the release notes — consider this the highlights reel.

Mandatory Two-Factor Authentication (2FA) for Admin Accounts

A number of you have contacted both me and support about an issue around deployments. You may have found that since your instance was migrated to 2018.2, deployments were failing. This is because of three things:

  1. Most accounts (prior to 2018.2) used to deploy code to NetSuite were admin accounts
  2. Admin accounts are now required to use 2FA when logging into the system
  3. The developer tools do not support 2FA

Thus the system will not let you log in and your code cannot be deployed. However, this is intended: you don't need an admin account to deploy code to NetSuite and our recommendation is to create a new role called a 'deployer' that has the precise permissions required in order to complete this task.

Check out our documentation on developer tools roles and permissions to get started.

Themes and Extensions

There are two important updates to the nature of themes and extensions themselves:

  1. Improved distribution and version management as SuiteApps
  2. Improved activation interface

A fundamental change to the way themes and extensions are handled is that they can now be bundled as SuiteApps that can be updated. What this means is that you, a developer of a theme or extension, can now create an extension, push it up, make a change later, and then push updates to those who have it installed on their system.

As for the activation interface, part of the improvement is that it's now possible to see when an update to an extension or theme has been pushed by the developer. However, there are broader updates to how all information is presented.

For example, while the site/domain demarcation still exists, activations for all sites and domains are now shown at once in a table. From there you can create a new activation (ie new combination of site, domain, subsidiary and location) or edit an existing one.

After you've selected what theme and extensions you're going to activate on that instance, you're then taken to the updated activation status page. We've made some improvements to this page — for example, we've made it clearer during activation when you can and cannot cancel an activation.

All-in-all, these changes should make things better for extensions, and I'm particularly looking forward to them being distributed as SuiteApps.

Site Management Tools

There have been a lot of improvements to the SMTs in this release including:

  • Date-effective commerce categories
  • Landing page publication workflow changes
  • CMS page records
  • CCT improvements
  • Image manager
  • Workflow item tagging

The first two are kinda similar in the sense that your site administrators are given much more control over when your categories and landing pages get published. What you can do now is prepare an entire sales campaign in an unpublished state, set a time for when they're due to go live, and then... do nothing. Let NetSuite handle it. Now, they can schedule a new seasonal sale to go live in early hours of the morning, and then get a good night's sleep without having to get up at 3 in the morning to push the button. You can also set an end date for the categories, so that at the end of sale run, they are no longer visible to shoppers.

The next changes — to the page records — are something I know a number of you have requested. There are two big things here:

  1. New landing pages are not necessarily created immediately, and they now part of the publishing workflow (as are modifications to existing landing pages)
  2. Landing page records are now available in NetSuite

In short, you can now access the details of landing pages in the NetSuite backend just like you could any other record. Just know that they're not currently scriptable via SuiteScript, though this may change in the future.

The improvements to custom content types give you more flexibility as a developer. Previously, you were limited by the fields you could include (they were quite basic) but now you can add use the help, image, document, inline HTML and date/time fields. You can also make use of field defaults and improvements to field vallidation.

We also have an in-context image manager, which means site administrators can now select existing images from the file cabinet, or upload new ones from their computer.

Finally, in addition to timing when landing pages go live, you can also add tag items of content when deciding what to publish. This is another request we got from a number of people: they would like to be able to quickly identify and filter particular items. For example, launching a new promotion? Tag them all with "promotions" and you can now select just those items.

Nice 👍

Just a quick note about these changes: they're only available for version 3 of the SMTs, and you must be running Kilimanjaro or newer.

Merchandise Hierarchy

This neat bit of functionality allows for the improved classification of your site's inventory. The idea is that you create a family tree, with your company as the chief parent node, which then breaks down into smaller child nodes as you go down.

For example, if your company sells retail apparel, then you could break it down into men's and women's. Then, under women's, you could have tops and bottoms, and then t-shirts and shirts, and skirts and pants.

Note that this isn't like commerce categories, which is about the presentation of items to shopper, no: it's more about your internal conceptualization of your inventory, and it should aid your colleagues on the commercial side of things gather better analytics about what your site is selling. For example, once you have organized your inventory into a hierarchy, your colleagues could use it to forecast sales or identify slow-moving goods, or use it to set up granular promotions.

We think your business users can use it to boost sales, increase margins and descrease inventory costs. Essentially it enables detailed analysis of sales, purchases and inventory status during the planning, purchasing and tracking stages of the product lifecycle. They'll get a clear visualization of the hierarchy structure and access to new data for existing reports, which should give them plenty of ideas about the sorts of changes they need to make.

While there might not be a lot of for developers to do in terms of coding, you may want to take a look if you're someone within your organization who also has to do create new reports or saved searches.

Email Improvements

We've made two big changes:

  1. The subscription email is now available in multiple languages
  2. Web store emails are now templatable with system email templates

The first is pretty simple: the opt-in email is used to confirm a shopper's interest in marketing emails; by making it available in multiple languages, you can target shoppers in a language they might prefer more.

The second is more complex: in short, we've added what we're calling system email templates so that it's much easier to change the content and appearance of the emails you send to shoppers. If you saw it in 2018.1, you may have noticed that we introduced SETs for the registration confirmation email. For the rest of your emails, you're probably already using web store email templates or text groups. The SETs For example, if you wish, you can set them up in multiple languages and load product images, and they're also mobile-friendly.

The new system email templates cover a whole host of emails, such as orders, gift certificates, account creation confirmations, and password recovery. There's even an automatic migration path available which can do some of the legwork for you.

SuiteScript 2.0 for SSP Applications

Before you get too excited, this doesn't mean that our next release will immediately switch all our SuiteCommerce SSPs to the new version. What we're saying is that you can now start using the new syntax in any custom SuiteScript server pages (SSPs) that connect to your commerce application.

Admittedly, if you've got a pretty standard SuiteCommerce site, you're probably not going to have to think about this stuff. It's quite a complex topic to go into here, so make sure you read the help topics on it or read some of the SuiteScript 2.0 stuff we talked about a year ago.

Final Thoughts

There's a number of other improvements not listed above, including quite a few for SuiteCommerce InStore. I'm probably most interested in the improvements to the site management tools as they will enable your site administrators to get a lot more work done without needing to engage with you, the developers.

Read the release notes.

I strongly recommend keeping an eye on our What's New section, which tracks all of the latest documentation changes and can help make you aware of new releases. For example, we've released a few more patches for bugs as well as a couple more official extensions (testimonials and logo list). Check them out!