Complex is not difficult, just like simple is not always easy

Complex numberThe 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 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.

This entry was posted in Community, Tridion 2011 by Bart. Bookmark the permalink.

About Bart

Working as a Technical Product Manager, Bart is the evangelist of all SDL Web products and the Digital Experience Accelerator in particular. Bart has worked for SDL since 2003 as a technical support engineer, consultant and trainer, supporting both partners and customers with their implementations. Bart was one of the original developers of the first version of DXA, and currenlty determines the future of it.

3 thoughts on “Complex is not difficult, just like simple is not always easy

  1. Tridion has both breadth and depth which makes any “newbie” question difficult without first getting that context from training.

    I feel any “complexity” pays off when it comes to changes.
    – authors work in a form editor and create content
    – editors create pages
    – designers work mostly with markup
    – developers work with structure (schema, categories, etc)

    If we get this part right, new sites are easy to make, content isn’t a bottleneck, and changes are isolated to specific parts of the system. Make a change? Go to a specific part. But the first part is learning what part goes where!

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