Quickly Start a Layout Template Building Block in SDL Tridion 2011

I was incredulous when I heard you could simply paste a Web page into a Tridion WebDAV folder to create a template building block (TBB) for layouts. Don't let the 60 second video fool you into thinking this all there is to template development in Tridion, but in this case getting started is simple and the setup, relatively trivial.
The hardest part for template development may likely be determining requirements, from determining how to deliver content in technical terms (.NET, Java, or plain HTML with or without a framework) to which parts of the site authors expect to be editable.

1 Minute Demo

This definitely won't fit under 30 seconds. I basically save a page with the .dwt extension, remove any .html files and paste everything into the Tridion Explorer (WebDAV) folder. After refreshing the template building blocks, we can add the new TBB above the Default Finish Actions TBB and run the template. It's definitely more impressive in video.

What's Next?

Actually the question is what's first? Your content management system implementation should always start with the business problem or opportunity well before evaluating vendor, doing a proof of concept, or choosing to build it yourself.

In enterprise software procurement, however, things don't always happen in order. If you find yourself already in template development, be sure to at least have (or are working towards) general requirements, an understanding of what authors should be able to edit (content definitions), and an inventory of page and component templates (types). Probably best to avoid extreme schema unless really needed.
Whether you start from the presentation side or with the content definitions (schema), in the end you'll want a solution that balances the needs of authors, developers, IT Operations (server and database administrators), management, and end users. Agile development methods can work for design and early setup, but releases for the larger groups of authors should be paced appropriately. A new schema, template, or added field here or there is fine, but huge or frequent changes may frustrate authors both infrequent and power users.

Templating Next Steps

Ok, if you're really curious, the other parts of templating with SDL Tridion include determining a delivery model, confirming compound templating will actually work for your environment, and then going back and updating the .dwt you just loaded.

Read more on TridionWorld, learn about DWT syntax, or find out how to set up template building block .NET assemblies to do more with code. If you're fairly savvy in template development consider getting lost in all the (wrong) places to find markup in a content management system or add to the list of Tridion jokes.*


Have fun in your text templating implementation!

*I'm definitely late to the modular templating party, pardon me while I catch up to you!

3 comments :

  1. Impressive quick demo Alvin. Did you notice that the relation between the DWT/HTML and the other assets becomes a managed link automatically too?

    If you want to spend another minute, I'd start by making the DWT show the title of the page on which it is invoked. All it takes is ${Page.Title}.

    Next would be extracting the design for the Components from the DWT. But I think you may have a blog post on that coming up soon too. ;-)

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  2. Yes, I'm working towards the infamous "all-in-one DWT" but couldn't pass up the wow factor in this 1 minute vid.

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  3. Nice demo!

    For development, I typically pick one of the templates available at freecsstemplates.org

    It is quick to get up and running as a DWT, it's more realistic (CSS-based layout) and prettier than the default Tridion templates.

    Showing how to do that in a video was on my list of TODOs. Now I don't have to :)

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