The word complex in English means the exact same thing as it does in Dutch, although the Dutch dictionary simply puts it as: “compound, complicated” where in the English dictionary I at least find “composed of many interconnected parts” as a first description and the words complicated and hard to understand are following much later.
When I give a training on SDL Tridion and we come across the topic of Complex Schemas, the first thing I mention is that complex is not to be translated as difficult here. It is just a Schema which allows for more options than the SDL Tridion user interface can display in its flat structure. Last week, I read an evaluation of SDL where the product SDL Tridion 2011 was named complex. Now being Dutch that word always has a negative sound to me because I like simple things. But that got me thinking, complex isn’t difficult, just like simple is not always easy. I do not find a Complex Schema a difficult thing (either to understand, or to create and work with), and I also know that a simple solution is not always the easiest one.
So why does the word complex sound negative to me, and more importantly, why do I dislike the description of complex being used on SDL Tridion 2011? The truth is, SDL Tridion 2011 is a product composed of many interconnected parts, so reading the English dictionary, that can be classified as a complex system, but is it also hard to understand? I am tempted to say not, but then again having worked for SDL nine years being closely involved with the product, I might be biased. However I have something else to state my case. The past few months I have been busy training and coaching a team of developers who build the sdl.com website. When they had their first training, they knew nothing of SDL Tridion, they all just had been .NET developers for a few years. After a few days of intensive training, they understood the concept and were able to build a website managed by SDL Tridion. So either they are geniuses (which of course they are ;o) or SDL Tridion is not that hard to understand.
Now why am I explaining all this, well it got triggered by the questions which get asked daily on Stack Overflow about SDL Tridion. You see a lot of questions there, which is good because it means a lot of people are using the product, but it also shows that SDL Tridion 2011 is indeed a complex product. Not necessarily hard to understand, but because it is composed of many interconnected parts, to be able to understand it, I think you should follow a training to get the correct overview of it all before you start working with it. I certainly do not want to discourage newcomers to try and figure everything out on their own. I’m sure that’s possible, but do yourself a favor and start with a proper overview which makes it so much easier to appreciate the possibilities rather than getting stuck on the details.