BluePrinting Metaphor Re-imagined

Have you ever heard, "BluePrinting is Tridion" or "Tridion is BluePrinting?" In terms of functionality, I submit that a SDL Tridion BluePrint is one of the most awesome and potentially-dangerous weapons you can wield in your Tridion toolkit. Think Sword of Omens with a light saber blade and the One Ring embedded in the handle.

So how do we approach this versatile and dangerous tool? By talking about... kids, of course! Here are some misaligned metaphors and not-so-new thoughts on BluePrinting.

Misaligned Metaphors

From BluePrint... to Genealogy?

David Adams, Director of Services Solutions at SDL and a recent Innovate speaker shared some interesting points on the "classic" BluePrinting metaphor with me and Kelly Thompson, Global Education Manager with SDL WCMS (this was sometime before for their Innovate speech). He mentioned we use  "blueprint," a fairly specific architectural term, but switch to genealogy and object-oriented programming when we explain BluePrinting to the business and IT, respectively. On top of that, the phrase "Empty Parent" is devoid of any positive connotation.
I'm imagining the typical teen-angst rant, "I hate you! I wish I was never born! You're such an empty parent!" followed by a slamming door.
Some of the BluePrint lexicon includes terms and concepts that really fit a different, but possibly old, core idea about design and architecture.

New Thoughts

Can we revisit the metaphor implicit in the actual blueprint word itself? This may never replace old memes and terms, but here's Yet-Another-Tridion-metaphor.*

A Blueprint is a description of something.

  • A blueprint can describes your architectural plan.
  • Which differs from your interior designs.
  • Which differs from the actual furniture in your building.
  • Which differs from the rest of the furnishings and occupants.
  • All of these are combined into a planned, designed, and furnished building.
Mix and match separate layers for architectural plans, interior decoration, and furnishings. 
Combine or share designs (blueprints) to make a building.
Then furnish it accordingly. 
How my daughter might envision a house in that pink-loving toddler mind of hers.  
Do you see where this is going?

  • In Tridion a publication can contain your content definitions.
  • Which differs from your template designs.
  • Which differs from the actual pages in your site.
  • Which differs from the rest of the components and authors.
  • All of these are combined or shared to create a website including its design, pages, and components.
Over-simplified illustration of leveraging separate
design and content layers to build a website.

This won't necessarily change how you think, talk about, or train others in Tridion BluePrinting. The parent-child or object-inheritance models are still excellent teaching tools. But feel free to add this concept to your repertoire and try a different approach when explaining Tridion concepts.

*Change is tough. How often do you hear Tridion used as a company name? I suspect the culture and name will persists for awhile longer. You can take the name away, I'm okay as long as you leave the fascinating company culture.

**"Yet-Another-" in Tridion context really belongs to this motorcylce-loving Tridionaut, one of my original Tridion role models and blogger-after-hearing-Alvin's-sales-pitch victim.

For additional excellent thoughts and practical advice on BluePrinting, read here and here on insight from Sr. Garrido (yes, you can say his name with an accent--it's okay if it's not a Spanish accent).

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