Customer Advisory - Sitecore and Chrome v37 breaking changes

Posted on Sep 18, 2014 in Customer Advisory  | No comments

 

Edit: This is why we love Sitecore - in the time it took us to write this Advisory, approve it and publish it to the web Sitecore have already released a patch. Well done chaps! Get it at https://kb.sitecore.net/articles/581527


On the 9th of September, Google released version 37 of their Chrome browser to the world, with UX enhancements and performance improvements.

But it breaks Sitecore ...

Unfortunately, the release of Chrome 37 also introduced a breaking change for the Sitecore CMS UI and as a consequence significant functionality within the UI has become non-operational. Specifically, Sitecore CMS functions that require the pop-up of a 'modal' dialog are affected, which includes, but is not limited to, the following:

  • Edit HTML
  • Publish
  • Presentation Details
  • Configure Change Template

In other words, the core functions that all Sitecore CMS authors and publishers require now no longer work in the Chrome browser. At present, this affects all Sitecore CMS versions prior to 7.2.

This issue affects only the authoring functionality of Sitecore, and not the customer-facing section of the website. It is very unlikely that a modal dialog would be used in a customer- facing site.

Why may this be important to me?

PING Works recommends to its clients the use of the Chrome browser to author on the Sitecore CMS, as it has provided the best support and UX across all the Sitecore versions. Internet Explorer 10 and 11 users have noticed significant issues authoring on pre-version 7 Sitecore, whereas Firefox users suffer the inability to use certain short-cut keys, most notably 'cut and paste'.

Technical details

The breaking change in Chrome 37 is not due to a bug in the latest browser, but rather an intentional disabling of the showModalDialog JavaScript function, which has been deemed by some parts of the industry to be a "mis-feature". Unfortunately, although Google's statistics suggest that less that 0.006% of websites make use of this function, many enterprise applications, including CMSs such as Sitecore (which Google cannot obtain usage statistics on) have made heavy use of the modal dialog since it was introduced in IE4 over 16 years ago.

You can read more about Google's intent and decision in the following blog post from the Chrome development team:

http://blog.chromium.org/2014/07/disabling-showmodaldialog.html

How to author content in Sitecore

The easist option is to simply switch to a different browser such as Firefox, for your content authoring and bear the annoying minor incompatibilities.

Alternatively, Google and The Chromium Project have released a workaround for Chrome, which will re-enable the showModalDialog function in Chrome 37+ browsers, and thus restore the important functionality within the Sitecore CMS UI. The workaround requires the changing of system settings - a registry hack or group policy update for Windows, depending on your network configuration, and similar manual policy file updates on Mac OSX and Linux OS - and PING Works recommends this workaround be only applied by a qualified technician.

It is important to note is that this workaround is only temporary, and the functionality will be completely disabled in Chrome as of 1 May 2015. Google has given website and enterprise application developers until that date to update their code, to use an alternative method of displaying pop-ups.

Please refer to the following links for details of the workaround:

http://www.chromium.org/administrators/policy-list-3#EnableDeprecatedWebPlatformFeatures
http://codecorner.galanter.net/2014/09/02/reenable-showmodaldialog-in-chrome/

Sitecore upgrades

Sitecore have been aware of Google's intent for some time, and have ensured that Sitecore CMS 7.2, and above, no longer make use of the old modal dialogs. At this time we are unsure whether they will release patches for the older CMS releases - it seems unlikely.

PING Works recommends that you consider an upgrade of your current Sitecore installation to the latest recommended version, Sitecore CMS 7.2 or 7.5, sometime over the next six months. Not only will this future-proof your CMS authoring and publishing against inevitable browser updates, it will also introduce opportunities for added and improved functionality within your website.

In general your Sitecore licence is bundled with maintenance that entitles you to the latest updates and patches including major version releases. If you would like discuss upgrading your Sitecore installation please contact us on 02 9321 1551. We're happy to help!