SDL Tridion Content Delivery Tips, Tools, and Troubleshooting

SDL Tridion is separated roughly into two parts:
  • Content Manager (CM)
  • Content Delivery (CD)
Over-simplified explanation: CM is Tridion. CD is your website.

Nothing tests your Tridion expertise liking setting up CD and here are some setup tips, tools, and troubleshooting info to prepare you for your next workshop, Tridion Boot Camp, or other training.

Experienced infrastructure consultants can move along, there's nothing new here.

Places to Check

Some Tridion consultants can name the content delivery files, well... by name. But even experienced Tridion resources will get one of the following wrong on the first try. Keep these organized, be methodical, and see the next sections for tools and troubleshooting tips when it doesn't work.
  • CD folder location across settings and in IIS, especially if you like setting them all-at-once
  • IIS settings
  • Dlls in Bin folder
  • Jars in Lib folder
  • Correct JDBC driver for your environment and Java version (e.g. sqljdbc4.jar for .NET, MS SDL, Java 6 I think)
  • Other environment details: .NET vs Java, 64 vs 32 bit
  • Database settings and passwords
  • Valid XML, including case, and location-specific settings in config files
The latest SDL Tridion documentation offers easy-to-follow roles to help guide you. The only catch is you have to read two parts. Good thing we all RTFM. ;-)

Tools

Nothing beats a sharp mind and experience, but I like practicing creative laziness. Here as some tools to improve your next CD setup or troubleshooting session.

Log File Display
For personal development I use Baretail, a log display tool .NET developer Michael Adams (MadCookie) introduced me to (http://www.baremetalsoft.com/baretail/). It tracks the tail of your log files and highlights certain words (I like highlighting "license" and ":\"). Yes, it's awesome. No, I don't use it as much as a should. It doesn't matter if you use your eyes or a tool like Splunk, check the logs (hint: you're looking for a stack trace).

Scripts
Dominic Cronin and Andrey Marchuk have been demonstrating the power of PowerShell. Let me go even more "old school" with a DOS batch file. Save the following in a "CD_Summary.bat" file in the root of your CD site and run it to get a list of file counts and a display of your possible license settings. (Adapted from examples on Stack Overflow)
   
@echo off
Title List Content Delivery Summary
REM recurse

Set I=1
Set T=Jar 
Set L=bin\lib

FOR /f "tokens=*" %%P IN ('dir /A-d /b %L%\*.%T%') DO (CALL :showfiles "%%P")
ECHO %I% %T% file(s) in %L%

Set I=1
Set L=bin
Set T=dll

FOR /f "tokens=*" %%P IN ('dir /A-d /b "%L%\*.%T%"') DO (CALL :showfiles "%%P")
ECHO %I% %T% file(s) in %L%

PAUSE
ECHO License Setting (bin\config\*.xml):
FIND "License" bin\config\*.xml
ECHO The above may show commented-out lines as well. Double check the config files.
PAUSE

:showfiles
REM ECHO %1 %2 %3
SET /a I+=1
GOTO :eof

Warning: above doesn't confirm file locations. Use CTRL+C to exit any bad DOS script.

File Listing
For a quick listing of files in a folder, navigate to it from a Windows CMD prompt and run the following DIR command. Optionally use "> files.txt" to output to a file. The /l is for lowercase and /b is for just the bare text.

dir /l/b > files.txt

Use the above with your favorite difference tool or send a text-based list to your colleague or support instead of a screenshot.

Last one: Need to stop and start services? Use DOS command net or sc. Knock yourself out and make a BAT file.

Tips and Troubleshooting

When something goes wrong, use the above tools, or better yet make your own "kit." If something doesn't work:
  • calmly accept the fact you did something wrong
  • confirm the instructions, checking the 7 places above
  • check the logs
  • check if the logs are configured

If you've done all of the above, post on the forum or ask for help but come prepared. "Help! It doesn't work," doesn't help anyone. The steps to replicate your issue, environment details, and your stack trace will.

IIS
.NET framework should be set to 4 (as of circa 2012),  don't share Identity Pools, use Network Service and give it folder permissions at the root of your CD installs (modify needed on your your website, but only read to deploy to HTTPUpload)

VMs and other silliness
My brain abandoned me (while sitting next to two Tridion principals) when I was wondering why there was nothing in the %TRIDION_HOME% installation location. It helps to actually check the right remote server environment and not your local! I blame WINDOWS + E.
Finally, the hard part. When you found your fix, confirm it was the right fix. I can get away with overkill settings and the occasional hack on my test machine. But we cheat ourselves when we consistently hack away and develop an incorrect model of how some software really works. Think of it as personal technological debt (expect a future post on this topic)
Let me know of your most embarrassing, odd, amazing, CD-setup or Tridion-related story. Sharing names of the guilty parties is optional.

5 comments :

  1. I have had the "Why is this change I made not showing up!" issue happen a lot of times to me as well. Usually I was on a different server, restarting things left and right, and breaking my head over it...
    One of those "duh" moments!

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