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!

Everyone, thanks for volunteering to be a component. Team A, you are now "Page A." Please take one of these sheets and follow the instructions on the template. 
The component template "instruction sheets" may have one of the following instructions:
  • Summary. Hold up this frame around your face or site down if lacking a prop (if using legos, just present the head of your mini fig).
  • Full Template. Stand up with your arms in the air. Present your summarizing face, head, and body to everyone.
  • Right Rail Image. No matter what your team does, stand on the right and hold that coffee cup, which is a stand in for an image.
  • Right Rail Links. No matter what your team does, stand on the right and keep pointing at or holding an object or corworker to make a link to another person component. 
Publishing time! A few options for explaining pages and publishing:
  • Take a picture and send to each team. That's what you looked like when you requested publishing. 
  • The table as a page.
  • An imaginary grouping, vehicle, or part of a room as a page.
Whether you rearrange the component "presentations," switch tables (pages), or swap instructions (component templates), your components themselves are unchanged.

Other inferences and ideas:
  • Each component must present themselves based on their instructions.
  • The metaphor also works with:
    • BluePrinting (same or different room, vehicle, attire... but same components)
    • Dynamic Component Presentations (you don't know who will present until requested)
  • You might need some full length mirrors to do Localization, though.
I'm not sure how much such a theatrical approach helps, but at least the audience is engaged and/or gets a chance to move. I've yet to impress anyone with the typical foundation background defining all these terms, though I'll keep finessing my examples, drawing skills, and approach in the more "standard" approach.

Understanding and application of these terms takes a few to several implementations to really grasp, and even then, the product (SDL R&D) and the software community (you) is still evolving better approaches.


  1. I've found the most useful part of software training is providing an opportunity for hands-on learning with a focus on individual needs. It's a unique blend of providing general, yet detailed enough, information with clear visuals, matching materials, hands-on exercises, and a professional delivery (no, I'm not saying I'm completely there yet!). Did I mention hands-on exercises?

    Basically we help individuals learn as much as they want to, are comfortable with, or need to know to accomplish their own goals. We've done a good job if by the end of class if we can create and link components, add them to pages as component presentations, and publish.

  2. I agree, it's all about handson.

    What works for me is instead of explaining it, just perform a simple task and work my way back from there. Gradiately introducing new concepts.



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