About Alvin Reyes

Blogging, community-building, Tridion consultant.

SDL Tridion for Dummies Part 1 – an analytical start

In Bart Koopman’s previous post he asked if we wanted to take the SDL Tridion Template Quick Guides “one step further?” This answers that question with a first analytical step of the microsite in order to create a Web Content Model. This exercise is similar to creating a data model before a database or creating class diagrams before programming. Before setting up a CMS that lets us define how we manage pages and content, we first identify types of pages and their relationship to content and each other.

Two-Steps Analysis:

  1. Identify and describe page types
  2. Identify and describe content types

Caveat: to stay at the “Dummy” level, we pretend we have client and business requirements while assuming and skipping parts. For example, we are assuming the BluePrint is already set up. Easy!

This analysis will make sure you as the template developer and the client know what you’re building together. Frank M. Taylor explains why we really should gather CMS requirements:

Paceaux aka Frank M. Taylor has had scope blow up on him, like the Minecraft creepy he doesn't notice behind him.

“The scope can creep as much as it wants when you never establish it.”

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SDL Content Porter’s Synchronization Option

An SDL Tridion schema is the (.xsd) definition for content. Eventually you may need to re-order, add, or remove fields to accommodate changes to your content model. Changing a schema doesn’t instantly change content based on this schema (trust me, you probably wouldn’t want it to). To make such an update, authors can open and close items in the Content Manager Explorer which will synchronize components to their updated definitions.

This works for a few dozen items, but can quickly get monotonous for several hundred components. Per SDL Live Content (http://sdllivecontent.sdl.com/), SDL Content Porter 2009 and later have the ability to “Synchronize Components against Schema before importing.”

“If you import a Component or a content item that has metadata, without also importing the (Metadata) Schema on which the item depends, the item you import may not match the Schema on the target system. Selecting this option tells Content Porter to attempt to modify the import item to match the Schema found on the target system.”

There’s a very important note that “selecting this option could lead to data loss.”

This synchronization option covers field re-ordering, removing fields no longer in the target schema(s), and adding new fields as long as they’re optional and/or have a default value. Also important is realizing this is a synchronization action which makes some existing fields match an updated schema. It should be clear that things like renaming fields and requiring a field without a default would require more manual (or programmatic) work.

The option is selected by default on an import, all you have to do is update the target schema before doing the import. Again, be careful with this as schema changes can lead to data loss.

Choose "Synchronize content against Schema before importing"

“Synchronize content against Schema before importing” is selected for you during imports

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Where am I? Skinning the SDL Tridion Content Manager Explorer.

To provide context between similarly-looking SDL Tridion environments, consider Skinning the Content Manager Explorer as described on SDL Live Content.

Simplified, slightly modified, and with some pics. This is a fairly quick and easy way to make your CMS environments stand out from each other. For the full power of CME Themes, head on over to YATB.
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Localization != Personalization. Why CXM Shouldn’t Affect Your SDL Tridion BluePrint… Much.

I’m seeing challenges and confusion with BluePrinting and Targeting in BluePrint workshops and in discussions about profiling and personalization. Don’t let the rise of “Customer Experience Management” (CXM or CEM for TLA fans) adversely affect your SDL Tridion BluePrint. Localization != Personalization (!= is code, literally, for “not equals”).

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SDL Tridion Event System Newbie Perspective

SDL Tridion Principal Consultant, Mihai Cadariu outlined a use case for capturing user time stamp information and provided insight into approaches as well as sample code. I was able to replicate his setup and make my first (copy of someone else’s) event system. This type of setup might be old for you, but what impressed me compared to my R5.3 days was how easy it was to Google parts I wasn’t sure on.

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Impress your IT Operations Peers. SDL Tridion + A Simple APM Client

Application Performance Monitoring or Management (APM) means nearly completely different things depending if you’re on the development (R&D) or operations (database/server administration) side of information technology (IT). It’s a different scale, different focus, and different vendors. To get a flavor of this, ask around for APM licensing models.

As a Web application with external APIs, extension points, OS-level events, and plenty of logs, SDL Tridion can be monitored however you see fit, with your vendor of choice. If you’re an avid Tridion World or documentation reader, you already know how to monitor publishing as far back as Tridion 5.3 per Julian Wraith’s article (I’m teasing, I missed this one until I recently searched for Tridion’s monitoring capabilities). 

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See you on Stack Exchange!

Stack Exchange, a spin-off of the popular Stack Overflow programming Q&A site has an “Area 51″ staging site, where Dave Houlker recently proposed a new site Q&A for SDL Tridion.

You can move the potential site into a beta phase by committing. Just follow this image link.
Stack Exchange Q&A site proposal: Tridion
Full disclosure: I get credit if you click the nice image. Join via a non-referring link if you prefer.

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