Simple Content Update Instructions

It's "easy" to explain basic Tridion concepts. The challenge is making it practical and relevant to an author's specific set of content.

Here's a "simple" content update process for the occasional author or even power user. Basically edit from your website publication, add new multimedia or components from the hyperlink pop-up, and publish the component when done.


  • Page is already published and component exists on the page (this applies for the typical page-with-component-presentations setup)
  • Most of your content is in a "main" content component.
  • You manage components and pages (as a content "editor")
  • Your rights and permissions give you access to the right folders
  • Content and pages may exist in separate publications (typically "020 Content" and "040 Site" or similar).
  • The update may include new (text) components or multimedia

Here we go...

Update (9-Dec, 2012): Step 0. If you have a page with metadata and Component Presentations that you like, make a copy of it first. Then update and change according to the following. You'll just have to publish the page at least once.
  1. In your "Site" publication (where you typically publish from), open your content component.* Select "Yes" if prompted to edit parent.
  2. Make updates in your main "details" or "body" field.
  3. If making a link to another component or multimedia, select some text, press the hyperlink button, and select type "component." Find your other component.
  4. If you haven't created the linked-to item select the "create" tab from your folder and create one or more of the following:
    • new component
    • new multimedia component, or
    • upload multimedia (if you want a new "Default Multimedia" component with the same name).
  5. Your new component will be selected. Click insert. Click OK. Save & Close your component from step #1.
  6. You're back at the Tridion main screen (Content Manager Explorer or "CME") with your updated component selected. Refresh. Click publish. You may need to publish multimedia as well if instructed by your team.
Happy Editing!

Combined Layout Template Building Block

The Dreamweaver Region Selection Parameter Schema allows SDL Tridion template designers the ability to put the component visualization and page layout in a single Template Building Block (TBB).

The following isn't your typical* setup and follows a variation on the SDL Live Content topic titled "Designing Component visualization separately." (Valid login required, see topic under  > Implementing Content Manager > Templating > Creating an Adobe Dreamweaver Template > Designing Components > Designing Component visualization separately)
Update: *After surveying a few Tridion consultants, I doubt anyone actually does this. Feel free to see if this has applicability in your projects but in case anyone asks about that documentation, feel free to point them here for an example.

Congrats New SDL Tridion MVPs

TridionWorld, the online community site announced the 2012 SDL Tridion MVPs. I wanted congratulate the new winners and write a little about past/current/would be MVPs.

Congrats to:
Regardless of expertise, title, or status, the SDL Tridion community needs you.

What's in a Title?

The SDL Tridion MVP program recognizes people that have shared online about the product.
Employees of SDL, the company that sells SDL Tridion are eligible to earn a similar award, but with the title, "Community Builder."  This phrase is so catchy that the company released a software package previously known as User Generated Content (UGC) as "SDL Tridion Community Builder" with the SDL Tridion 2011 Service Pack 1 (SP1).

Non-Active MVP Status

The MVP program (including CBs) recognizes contributions over the course of the year. It's somewhat related to expertise, but isn't solely based on knowledge. The emphasis is on the sharing of that knowledge.

If you've been nominated, selected for, and accepted an award, you get the title along with an active year. After winning, you're asked to continue sharing to keep the title for subsequent years. There is the possibility of not earning the title for a given year.

However, unlike the Mission Impossible Force, not having the title in a year does not mean disavowed status. If you've been active in the past, it's likely you're still on Tridion projects, developing with the software, or are in contact with the community. The instant messages from MVPs goes on, the TridionWorld forum continues, and you're free to work on whatever Tridion-related projects that interest you (hint: PowerTools!).

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.

Inspect Component Details with an XSLT Component Template

As a follow-up to an XSLT Component Template (CT) that displays publication info, here's a multipurpose XSLT CT.

I use it to preview a component's XML source or as a starter for a new template. If you have the XSLT Mediator, this could be a starting point for making your own set of XSLT TBBs.

Step 1 Create a new Component Template of type XSLT.
  • Call it something like: "Component Info (use on any component)"
  • Output format: XML Document or HTML Document (we're just previewing so either work)
  • Priority: any, but I chose "Never Link"
  • Component Presentations based on this Component Template will be:
    Published on a Page
  • If on a production system, also place in a folder that authors don't have permissions to

10 Extreme Schema Scenarios

Variety. Moderation. Consistency.
I coined this mantra on a walk home from school about 2 decades ago (whoa, time flies). Though guilty of violating my own mantra at times, I know enough to appreciate the significance of moderation and consistency in designing schema.
Hard-to-follow input forms aren't unique to specific software or implementations; the following should be familiar to anyone that designs or complains about forms.

Here are ten schema scenarios on the edges of schema and metadata design from a content author's perspective. Not all are bad. The focus here is on the impact on the form-filling end users or content authors.

(a schema defines the fields for an input form, XML item, or content)

1. The Monolithic Schema

Extremely... Long.

All imaginable fields go into this single schema, and based on the fields, it can be flexible for time immemorial. Even better to put everything into the content tab so authors can save a step of switching to metadata (that was a joke).

At a minimum of just enough fields so the screenshot takes 5 image stitches and no longer fit in a single page in Word and still be readable, the Monolithic Schema must include the repeatable option for most of them. You know you're guilty when that screenshot has several right-side scroll buttons.

Might be useful for... "config" type setups or very structured scenarios that need occasional updates.
Bad for... new authors.

2. Self-Service Schema

Extremely... Configurable.

Make the fields themselves embedded key-value pairs so you can have infinite values. All the content author has to do is select their key and then value!

Might be useful when... developers need configuration-type schema or if keywords are provided to limit the options.

Bad when... this lacks an instruction manual.

3. The Obscure Schema

Extremely... Unclear.

Nothing beats user descriptions like:
  • field
  • rich field
  • do not use
How about something subtly insidious? Having some of these in a schema are great, but what happens when an author looks at similar descriptions like:
  • name
  • title
  • friendly title
  • subtitle
  • header
  • subheader
This is worse if the author doesn't know the language the descriptions are written in.

Might be useful when... authors instantly recognize the terms and what they mean (byline in a news organization).
Luckily we can add some descriptive text and even localize these descriptions.

The challenge with descriptions is authors might think in terms of how the fields display so "this shows as a header on the page" might be useful, but incomplete (because the "summary" template might ignore this field.

Consider offering additional help (custom URLs in Tridion) if more information is needed.

4. The Yoda Schema

Extremely... All-Over-the-Place.

In order, the schema fields are not, hmm?

The order of fields don't have to match the order of how they're used or presented, but take care not to swap fields contrary to a content team's expectations. Date fields for "release," "effective period," and "expiration" should probably be in some kind of order.

Have your Content Authors Roleplay SDL Tridion Terms

I've been searching for easy-to-follow metaphors explaining SDL Tridion building blocks or basic items for a non-technical audience. Workshop or training sessions that include foundation-type training followed by having to update content is a lot to take in.

The following are not the technical definitions of the terms, but those familiar with the Web Content Management (WCM) system should recognize the parallels.


A definition of something. (e.g. "Person"). Some parts mandatory such as head and torso. Substitute Lego Mini Fig for person if desired. In relation to content, your face might summarize you, your head could fill in for a "header," and your body represents the body of some content.
Represented by  this super side-wise "S"
icon (code brackets and slash, I believe),
your content authors will mainly
understand schema as
a select-able item.


Individual objects based on a schema. (e.g. "Bob," "Mary," "Yoda Mini Fig"). Based on schema. Many individuals, but all people.
The SDL Tridion component icon
evokes a sense of volume.
You can put something in there!   

Component Template

Instructions, Accessories, and Dressings  (e.g. "Put on this hat," "stand up," "put Yoda in the Santa outfit").

The gear  / cog-in-a-box look of the
component template icon
hints that it's doing

Put it Together!

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!).