Introducing My First Alchemy Plugin, WhereUsedPlus

look-at-all-jrkktg

Recently at Content Bloom we’ve been competing with each other to see who can build the best Alchemy Plugin in their spare time. Harald Hoffelinck entered first with his exciting Google Analytics plugin. Then Rob Morrow came with the Theme Manager, which you’ll definitely want if you spend all day staring at Tridion and need a change of view (or for lots of other reasons). Next, Mark Williams released the DXA Preview plugin, combining two of the hottest Tridion technologies right now in DXA and Alchemy. Best of all, even more exciting plugins are on the way from this little contest, so keep your eye on the Alchemy Webstore and here on Tridion Developer to see what comes next.

As much as these guys have made for a tough act to follow, I’m quite excited to show my entry. Before I do though, I should note a couple things. First, I have never before built a GUI extension for Tridion, so this was all new to me. Second, with Alchemy, building this plugin was just as easy as the hype suggests. Using the quick start guides at http://a4t-api.alchemywebstore.com, I had all the basics I needed for a plugin set in less than an evening of coding. From there it was almost entirely fiddling with the JavaScript I needed for my page.

With that said, what is my plugin? To help explain it, I want to lay out a scenario we are likely all familiar with. You come into a new client and start looking at their Tridion environment, trying to get a sense of their implementation. Naturally, you’re using Where Used a lot to see how things are linked, but there are a lot of nested component links, something like:

Screen Shot 2015-08-18 at 09.51.03

To get from Component 1to the Page it’s used on you need a Where Used on Component 1. Then you need to open Component 2 and do a Where Used on it, then repeat this on 3. Only then will you have found the page using Component¬† 1. You now have several tabs open and your task bar looks like this:

Screen Shot 2015-08-18 at 11.07.15

Do this a few times and good luck trying to look back through the path you followed from Component 1 to the page. Is it a minor annoyance? Maybe, but still an annoyance.

My plugin offers a solution (actually 2) in the form of a new “Where Used Plus” tool to add to Tridion.

WhereUsedPlus (2)

Where Used Plus is accessed exactly as you access Where Used today, through the ribbon bar or the context menu. As you can see, Where Used Plus looks similar to the default Where Used. It shows you where a Tridion object is used, shows you what items it is using, and lets you open and go to the location of any item you select in the popup. However, you’ll notice a few differences that help to streamline the process of moving between multiple Tridion items. First, it has tabs a new set of tabs. These tabs let you flip back and forth between the where used and using information for multiple items easily. No longer will you need a bunch of non-descript browser popups to move up and down a dependency chain. Second, the “Pages Where Used” button. This button lets you skip any intermediate items and get straight to the page using any item, whether it’s a component, a schema or a template. In the above example I could go straight from Component 1 to my page, never touching Components 2 or 3.

There are a few features I’d like to add down the road, including search and filtering, and a “published to” option, to make this new tool a true replacement for the default Where Used tool. For now though I think there is enough new functionality here to warrant a place in your ribbon bar.

Note: This is a beta version, so any comments or reviews on the Alchemy Webstore would be more than welcome as I consider what changes will go into version 2.

One thought on “Introducing My First Alchemy Plugin, WhereUsedPlus

  1. Hi Tanner, I installed the nice where used plus plugin and noticed a couple of things (bugs?) during testing:
    1. The plugin does not have an icon for the minified version of the ribbon.
    2. The plugin is not enabled (i.e. visible in the ribbon) when you open an item
    3. Some items do show uses/using items with the built-in functionality, but in the where used plus plugin the list of uses/using items remains empty. The tool seems to be stalled/waiting. This happens on Chrome and Firefox.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>