SDL Media Manager Bootcamp

I'm back from yet another bootcamp session in Amsterdam, this time for SDL Media Manager. Big thanks to the company and my European colleagues for bringing us across the "pond" to learn and share about SDL Media Manager.
My first exposure to a "Bootcamp" session was back in 2011 as a privileged customer having won an award for sharing stuff about Tridion. Since then (or maybe because the session convinced me), I've joined SDL and then had a few opportunities to participate in internal knowledge sharing sessions, a user day event, community award summits, and an Experience Manager (then "New UI") bootcamp (also in Amsterdam). These have all been great sessions where I learn as much from my fellow (often remote) colleagues as I do about software. 
Tip: if these time of sessions interest you, definitely reach out to your local representative, field marketer, or even product management (many are quite visible in our technical community).

Here are my three main "aha" moments from the four days of sessions.

  1. Lessons Learned from SDL Media Manager
  2. SDL Tridion influencing SDL Media Manager
  3. Next Steps in the Community

Lessons Learned from SDL Media Manager

SDL Media Manager is Refining my Perspective on SDL Tridion and CMS

Fellow Tridionaut (SDL Tridion community member) Frank Taylor describes SDL Media Manager (and nitpicks some of its UI). I actually love the Manage, Assemble, and Distribute sections. This reads as "1, 2, 3..." to CMS users, whereas SDL Tridion BluePrinting, at least in the Content Manager Explorer, has a standard "folder, folder, another folder..." approach.
"Would you also like to..." If you look at SDL Tridion Experience manager, making a page has a wizard-like "1, 2, 3..." process. I'm definitely for good defaults and a process that guides and nudges users, while still giving them flexibility.
I've already submitted an SDL Tridion Idea to add more of this good stuff (go vote for it!). Imagine if after creating a schema you got prompted to make or choose a template, then maybe start a test component and even a layout TBB for the template?
Out-of-the-box and standardized content model.

I'm fascinated by SDL Media Manager's set of known and supported default "content types." If you're an avid SDL Tridion blogosphere reader, you will notice schema.org mentioned on at least two other blogs (bonus points if you know which two). Schema.org suggests an "industry standard" for content types (schemas) which can translate into easier SDL Tridion implementations (in addition to starting code toolkits, we could lead with known content types).

When I engage SDL Tridion customers from a functional design perspective, it seems everyone is fairly ready to code, but many are new to modeling content relationships. On the media asset side, though, everyone seems to understand mime types or the idea of a Media player.

Cloud. Yes, with its multi-tiered, Web-based architecture, SDL Tridion can fly, but SDL Media Manager is already in the cloud.

My SDL Tridion 2013 VM guide (and Nuno Linhares's original version for 2011 that it was based on) must be really popular because everyone seems to have their own Tridion virtual machine or instance. :-) Being surrounded by Tridion experts means it's trivial to spawn off "Fifth Environments" anytime for any project. This is great for the community since everyone can independently learn (while breaking their own systems) and we get so many contributions. For example, search for Tridion navigation to get a flavor of options. I love the flexibility, but I can only support so many Sixth (Custom) Environments.

As I get access to internal PS-supported implementations, I'm going to ask my WCM colleagues "can we just do it like Media Manager?" Give me one cloud environment and let me create a consolidated, yet flexible content model. Then code whatever you want on top of it. :-)

I might tease you for saying you work for Tridion (hint: no one does), but the point is these learning sessions, implementations, and the integration between the two systems means the products and people will continue to influence each other.

SDL Tridion Influencing SDL Media Manager 

Key-Value Custom Events. SDL Media Manager has a very familiar feature called Custom Events (not to be confused with Events in Tridion) that lets authors add key-value pairs to customize the behavior of things like media players. In Tridion we might make a "configuration" or labels component to implement something similar.

It's flexible (and out-of-the-box) in Media Manager but I'd imagine authors wanting pre-selected keys or configurable sets like "intro," "credits," or "chapters." We'll see how the Media Asset Management system evolves. One great feature is the ability to upload an Events File in lieu of such Custom Events--this would be my functional hook to give authors a way to choose functionality over entering text values.

BluePrinting-friendly! I need to investigate further but simply referencing a video from SDL Tridion will get you the deliver-side translated version (assuming the video has translated transcripts). You wouldn't need to go to each publication to localize or wire the video. The only catch is previewing the video in the CME may not detect the right language (in the context of Tridion you're using your langauge), however viewing in Staging will work fine based on the Staging site's language.

Templating. "SDL Tridion is sophisticated to meet customer's sophisticated needs" (yeah, some of my customers scoff at my view). Part of that sophistication is a very flexible approach to delivery which is basically, "anything you want."

I've gotten stuck in circular discussion on the output format from Tridion that sound like:
"What {JSON|XML|HTML|JSP\ASPX} output do you deliver?"
"Nearly anything you can define. What do you need?"
"We need the output to be {JSON|XML|HTML|JSP\ASPX}." :-|
SDL Tridion customers want or need everything from URLs, to fragments or snippets of markup (component presentations in Tridion terminology), to complete HTML 5 video players. The "page" format could be JSON, XML, or some proprietary format.

But since Tridion can do rendering in templating at publish or let you manipulate the content model in delivery (in an MVC-type approach), Tridion can easily consume whatever SDL Media Manager distributions output.

My main concerns for templating with Media Manager are:
  • We only get one Schema for all of Media Manager's outlets and channels. So we'll have to be a little creative when approaching region-driven functionality (mainly through folder structure, metadata, and of course page types).
  • Only some of Media Manager's (external-to-Tridion) metadata is exposed through the ECL Provider. The team discussed possibilities of opening this up in the future.

Next Steps in the (Joint) Community

I submitted another SDL Tridion Idea to standardize a way to map items, hoping we could get us to a place where anyone could "right-click > try this in my environment."

It's a great time for SDL Media Manager and SDL Tridion. I'm looking forward to sharing the SDL Media Manager insights and examples with my peers at the next internal SDL Tridion knowledge sharing. Follow #SDLMedia as well as #SDLTridion for updates if you haven't noticed #media-manager questions on Tridion Stack Exchange already.

Bart Koopman has already released a few Media Manager and ECL-related extensions on SDL Tridion World. Our community has joked about what googling Tridion problems was like in 2008 (hint: hindsight makes it humorous... now), but this is 2013. Have you seen the number of GitHub Tridion repositories lately? There are (as I type this) 1,222 Tridion Stack Exchange Questions. SDL Media Manger (at least as they relate to SDL Tridion) examples will fit right in our growing community.

So now what?
  • Stay tuned for community contributions, examples, and new SDL Tridion + SDL Media Manager/ECL practices.
  • For SDL Tridion partners and customers that can't wait, find your nearest representative, ping me online, or reach out to product management to learn more about such bootcamp events or SDL Media Manager. Try joining SDL Tridion Pulse (and ping @Davina).
  • Ask Education about formal courses.
  • Share more. Or share for the first time.
The upcoming SDL Tridion + SDL Media Manager examples will be a mix of markup, CSS, multimedia, and JQuery skills with a tiny bit of SDL Tridion and whole lot of SDL Media Manager goodness. It's a great opportunity to flex your front-end design skills.

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