SDL Tridion Custom Help

This is another "Tridion in 30 seconds" post, this time on the Custom URL feature.

That's a Nice Looking Schema

The best designed schema balance re-usability, flexibility, and a separation between content and design. Though it's easy to think of these content definitions simply in terms of database columns or XML nodes, content authors also need to know what to enter into these fields. Simply put, the most elegantly designed schema can still frustrate your content authors without a little help.

But Now Someone Has to Enter Content

Authors rely on a mix field descriptions, documentation, and memory to know what to enter into each field. Sometimes, it's a matter of "Ask PowerUser Bob." To offer more than a clear description, consider adding custom URLs to your more complicated fields. This will add a link to the descriptions content authors see. Better yet, include this as part of your next schema design discussion or session.

In the schema design tab, select a field and simply enter a Web path. This could be to a page on the Content Management Explorer (CME) or any internal/external web page or resource.

Content authors now get a per-description link that opens a pop-up of the page or resource you link to.

Custom URLs for Customized Descriptions

Enough talk, let's see how easy it is to add a custom URL (in almost less than 30 seconds... argh!).

There you go: instant in-context help, additional clarification, or the option even a video for your end users. Just add content. Where will you get the content? Maybe consider using the highly-featured CMS you were just working on.

What can be more impressive thana page with a video explanation? How about a pop-up help page with the "official" help information for that given field along with additional user-generated content from that organization's content authors. How's that for some community building?
The term "custom URL" is misleading because this is far from customization. I know some vendors treat customized anything as a dirty word (having something to do with revenue recognition). SDL Tridion's premise is a preference for extension rather than customization (build upon the framework rather than change it). But we're not even talking about much, if any, implementation. This is an out-of-the box feature (benefit) that has more to do with configuration (can you paste a URL into a box?) than anything remotely "custom."


  1. Okay, so the video is ridiculously short and doesn't explain much. Hopefully it at least makes the point that it's not hard to at least make the link.

    The hardest part is actually crafting the actual content (but you do have a CMS, right? SharePoint, a wiki, or even .txt files work as well), managing the links*, and remembering to include this in your requirements.

    I'll try asking my next set of content authors to start some of this material for themselves and I'll let you know how it goes.

    *Unfortunately it seems you can localize schema names and field descriptions, but not custom URLs. This makes it "easier" to manage them across the BluePrint, but less-specific to content authors without some extra work.

  2. Thanks for the tip Alvin. I'm actually putting this into action at a client as I speak.

  3. Nice one Alvin. I hope Tridion will one day at this information/description fucntionality in each Schema as a default... maybe with a little (i) icon or something.

  4. Nice post Alvin! In my opinion sometimes we tend to overlook simple things like this that can make users lives much more pleasant ;o)


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