Power Authors Part 2: Rights and Responsibilities

In my last post, I described how to avoid the Parking Garage problem.

Now that you're sure where you are, let's consider authoring rights and responsibilities. If you're entrusted, or stuck with the job of teaching others how to use new CMS functionality, content, or pages, then use the following to add some practical accountability to your projects.

Suggested Authoring Rights

I often see "bill of rights" for certain types of customers. For example, New York's taxi passengers have a Taxicab Passenger Bill of Rights. Here are some for new Tridion content authors:


  • Authors should know where to work and have the right authorization.
    • You should have all the Urls and logins to do your work.
    • You should have the appropriate authorization to do your work and ideally even restrictions to prevent you from things you shouldn't. For example, if you can't make or change templates, you'll never be responsible for fixing them or when they go wrong.
  • Authors should have a working system and way to report issue.
    • Publishing and unpublishing should work.
    • You should know where to report issues with the website and CMS.
  • Authors are not responsible for everything.
    • Though you may care they work properly or make sense, you are not be responsible for template code or front-end design.
    • Over time, your stakeholders should learn what parts are under your control so they can ask for appropriate changes from the right people.
  • Authors should be aware of content constraints. This includes communication on deadlines, amount of content, any special restrictions on content, if not already built into the system.
  • Authors shouldn't be afraid of the system and should have a system to test on! Content Manager Preview may or may not be exactly what you see on the website, but you should have a Preview or Staging site to test changes against. Dress rehearsals are important.

Rights also come with responsibilities. I might have the right to free speech, but must use it responsibly (by apparently not yelling "fire" in a crowded theater).

Some Authoring Responsibilities

I suggest your first responsibility as an author is to create and even break any page types your team delivers. This is especially important for "Power" Authors or editorial content "administrators." If you've followed instructions and document any issues, this helps everyone on the team.

You're not in charge of completely testing a setup, but considering adding the following to your responsibilities for new page types.

  • New. Make the page using the new components and templates.
  • Old. Add existing component presentations. The old content types should still work.
  • Test outliers. Create a few varieties. Use different sized images. Have a set of "labeled" images.
  • Confirm field behavior. Make a page where you enter the field description in the field. Translate or localize everything. The documented behavior should be mostly correct, but you might interact with a content model after revisions to the design, with future options visible,
  • Test layout. Make a page with as few fields filled out as possible. Try different templates. Pick the "wrong" templates. Confirm the template names make sense.
  • Get your feedback to development.

If you can, ask to be considered for "hallway tests" early on before coding starts (this is where you can check how usable the content forms are before the templates are built on these schemas). Authors don't always get to be part of the CMS design process, but agile setups imply collaboration and iterative development.
Be quick, decisive, and vocal if needed. Development will move to the next assignment and if you don't speak up and/or confirm something was delivered as expected, you may miss an opportunity to get fixes. Developers deliver content management functionality, not the final presentation created from content. That's your responsibility.
But if you can get on the mind if developers by appreciative but honest and practical feedback, your authoring experience will be that much better. Be cordial with your team and have realistic expectations, but as an author that has to live with and support the results of a significant investment, it's worth being practical while maintaining high standards.

So we considered how to manage user's context within the Content Manager and now Power User rights and responsibilities. That covered where to find an environment and how to treat new CMS functionality.

Though checklists can apparently save lives, the best I can offer in the next post are some checklists to troubleshoot Tridion Pages.

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