Tridion Developer Summit 2016

Congratulations to Robert Curlette, the sponsors, and fellow presenters on another successful Tridion Developer Summit (TDS) 2016!

I want to share some quick observations as a presenter and fellow attendee as well as advice to those wanting to present or represent a vendor or partner. Oh and there'll be pictures at the end.

Context Matters, Especially for Developers

Tridionauts really love their IDEs. From DD4T to Alchemy GUI extensions to XView templating, implementers will find ways to do everything in their IDE of choice. Call our own Content Delivery API? Nope, they'll wrap it in DD4T. XML Configuration? Nope, they'll do that in a class in Alchemy (intellisense ftw!). Individual Template Building Blocks? Nope, instead maybe create a single Template Building Block (TBB) with the logic in its own MVC application in the Content Manager (TOM.NET) and call it XView.

By the way, our own DXA in Azure appeals this type of persona. As much as Tridionauts like Tridion, I see the work in these projects supporting the idea that Web developers want to develop. The product, extensions, and community work to make that easy.

Trust the Brand Defenders

When Tridionauts ask specific questions during a presentation, it means they're paying attention and want to engage. It's a way of "paying you respect for presenting" (thanks, Ingmar). Don't hesitate to acknowledge the remark, discuss it a bit, and nod knowingly before continuing a presentation.

You can also count on Tridionauts to validate some odd historical trivia or even make a song about some new feature like Topology Manager. Really!

What happens when Tridion Brand Defenders encounter the 5 Stages of Tridion Grief?
They bust out a song. All that was missing was a bouncing ball for the audience to join in.

Representing or Presenting? Transparency Helps.

It's inspiring and maybe even a little intimidating meeting Tridionauts that care that much about your product. Being open, listening, and sharing in that enthusiasm goes a long way. If you're presenting at such an event or have to represent a sponsor, recognizing that passion and being open about what you know (or even don't know) will help you enjoy the energy in the sessions and even answer a hard question or two.

And with that, good job and thanks to my colleagues that were able to present or attend. Here are those pics I promised.

My colleague Nafiseh explaining where we are and where we strive to be in terms of product management. 

Bart Koopman, playing the opening crawl of his DXA presentation.

Time for a selfie with Dominic Cronin.

You never know what people are going to do with your product (or marketing give-aways). Except this. Jonathan Williams must have seen this coming. Rawr!
Product Management for SDL Web. We're all "PMs for Web," each with a different focus for now. 
Hope to see you at the next event!

Yes, I've Seen the Article. Did You Notice the Process?

"Have you seen this article in CMS Wire about SDL?"

"Why yes, you're the fourth person to mention it."

This post isn't about the content of the article or SDL's divestment news. For a good perspective on that, read a post referenced in the first article. This post is about a Linked-In feature, semantics, and possibly micro-formats.

So, how did you hear about the article? I don't see you mention the post about strategy shifts or this one about non-core units.

I suspect you heard about it through the Mentioned in the News (Linked-In) feature that promotes online news stories about people to their connections using an AI algorithm.

Here's what I (and maybe up to 500+ connections) saw. Note how the email automatically included:
  • A link to the article
  • The headline
  • A link to the connection's profile

The article, the connection's profile, and an email.

There are also two ways users can influence in the interaction:

  1. Wrong Person? In the email you can note if the person was incorrectly identified by Linked-In's algorithm
  2. Notifying connections when you're in the news. As a Linked-In user, you can opt out of this feature as seen below.

I find this fascinating in a few ways.
  1. Semantics. I'm not sure it's required to make the feature work, but the article uses microformats to mark the headline appropriately (itemprop="headline"). In addition to Google search results, this is a nice practical example of the more fuzzy term, semantics.
  2. Concrete. I suspect many are seeing the email and are interested in content labeled, "News about [your connection]." It's refreshing to see a direct connection mentioned rather than another link-bait title. This falls under the tip of using concrete details to create "sticky" messages. 
  3. Subtle AI. I also suspect few stop to notice the article doesn't actually link to your connection's Linked-In profile. An automated AI program determined the connection based on (plain) text in a news article and then grabbed the headline as well as a reasonable excerpt from the article. 
  4. Tracked. The links and images have querystring parameters likely for analytics, tracking, and/or possibly personalization features on Linked-In (which isn't really surprising).
  5. Not new. I'm late to the party. The feature was mentioned here and here.
  6. What Share Link? Despite the sharing link in the email, I ran across the article in Skype and Slack chat. Long live copy & paste!
  7. Creepiness averted. Offering user control is an important part of personalizing the customer experience.
So, what did you notice when you or someone else shared the story? Did your contact's name stand out? Did you congratulate him on being cited by an industry news source and/or discovered by Linked-In's algorithm? Or did you find this article in another way?

Maybe the content and news was compelling enough that you forgot about Linked-In?

Folder Practices with SDL Web/Tridion

I've been asked about folder best practices for SDL Web/Tridion a few times.

There is no single best practice for folders, though there are a few strategies that may fit you use cases based on what matters most to you. You manage folders mostly in the same way as any other system that organizes items, however, Tridion has three features that influence how you organize items:
  • BluePrinting
  • Different types of items (Components, Pages, Keywords, and External Content items)
  • Authorization
The Functional Design training describes three basic ways to organize folders:
  • By content type (schema)
  • By channel / site
  • By department or business unit
Most organizations use a mix of these approaches. You might also use dates to “archive” folders as well. These translate into familiar practices with corresponding trade-offs, starting with your top-level folders.

Top-Level Folders

You'll first figure out your top-level folders by one of a few strategies.

Content First

To promote sharing you may consider organizing first by content type, with a possible trade-off of a more complicated authorization model. If you’re using Experience Manager, content types can have default folders so you’ll want content type-specific folders for those.

An example set of folders following "content first," might be:

  • Article
  • Banner
  • Disclaimer
  • Promotion

Channel First

If you follow the practice of minimizing localization where you create and maintain the bulk of your content at a global level in your BluePrint, then you might add channels to your top-level folders, such as:

  • Campaigns
  • Brand A
  • Brand B
  • Corporate
  • Extranet
  • Social

Structure First

A common pattern for navigation in Tridion is a naming conventions to sort website sections for Navigation. If your content highly reflects this structure, then you may follow your website sections in both Structure Groups and folders. For example, you may have:

  • 010 Products
  • 020 Services
  • 030 Solutions
  • 040 About

Editor Friendly Tips

Tridion authorization drives visibility in lists. This includes what’s visible in Schema or Component Template selections. You can segment schemas or templates by removing read permissions for their container folders.

In addition, be sure to include (virtual) search folders and bundles in your organization strategy. These help gather and present items in the CMS that may live in different physical locations.

Naming Conventions

In addition to how you want to prioritize your first-level items, you'll want to confirm naming conventions that work for you. Things to consider:
  • 010 Numbers or not
  • Singular or plural (Article or Articles)?
  • Business-Friendly Capitalization?

The most important point for folders is you need to create something you can live with and adapt over time. Having easily communicated and followed standards and naming conventions is probably more important than the specifics.

Process and Final Tips

See this post for more tips on the folder creation process with Tridion. Folders are not just about where to place things, but where to find them when you need them. I also point out some documentation tips with folders. And the community shared a few more points in this Tridion Stack Exchange question.

Beyond these Tridion-specific points, folder design is really an Information Architecture question. So with that, refer to the guiding question, "how would you do this without Tridion?"

Congrats 2016 SDL Web Community Winners!

Congrats to the SDL Web 2016 Community MVP Winners!

Five quick tips for a successful year:

  1. Enjoy the uber geek status. Be sure to get to the retreat if you can. It's awesome.
  2. Keep sharing. Year two is harder than winning the first year.
  3. Don't under-appreciate what you have to offer.
  4. Don't get complacent or over-confident either. Winners aren't "the best," though the best often share.
  5. Connect with others and encourage the next generation of sharers.
To previous winners that "fell off" this year, welcome to the alumni group. Here are thoughts back from 2012 on having MVP alumnus status. Big thanks to those that shared less but maybe mentored more.

For anyone else interested in this award, 2017 will be even harder for a few reasons:
  1. Community members can get an SDL Web 8 developer license for research and sharing. The list is growing. Don't wait to get started.
  2. Alchemy.
  3. DXA.
  4. DD4T.
  5. The Next Big Thing in the Community (I've seen it. You're not ready for it. It's impressive.).
You may have read how to win my vote in a post from last year. That's old advice. To join the 2017 MVP class first join today's community. Then optionally see what everyone else is doing. And then share more than everyone else.