New to SDL Tridion?

Here's how to get started with SDL Tridion. But then what?

We sometimes learn our tools and trade from others or in formal training. For software systems we have services, documentation, support, and community-contributed online information. What happens when you inherit some system, though? For example, maybe you've been assigned as the SDL Tridion contact for either business or technical issues and you're not sure where to start.

Well, here's my list to someone stepping into such a role.
  1. Review the official materials. Software purchases include a license agreement and support details as well as the original purchase order and any statements of work. This gives you the official agreement between the vendor (SDL in this case) and your company. This is part due diligence, but you might be surprised to find potential benefits in features that weren't implemented in "Phase 1."
  2. Read your documentation. It's worth tracking down a few important pieces including:
    • Functional Design (including the BluePrint diagram and design)
    • Technical Design
    • Architecture Design and related diagrams
  3. Reach out to colleagues. They'll have background on the project, the business goals, and any challenges or opportunities they fixed or are looking to solve next.
  4. Confirm with the stakeholder. Successful projects have executive sponsorship. Someone wanted and approved the system. In step 3 you might find a mix of feelings toward the system. For those wondering how/why it's different, first read this advice from former PS Principal-now-Product Manager Nuno Linhares. He points out, "Tridion IS different - and customers buy the software for those EXACT reasons that make it different."
  5. Contact the vendor. Like other vendors, SDL tries to remain competitive by offering features that are in demand today as well as by anticipating or even leading in the "Next Generation" of solutions. I've seen software changed not because it wasn't capable but because users didn't get it or they didn't bother checking with the vendor for better ways to use it. Or worse is when companies buy several versions of the same type of software (multiple analytics packages, dozens of ways to create PDFs, etc). Analyst Robert Rose points out "yes you can" speak with the vendor.
  6. Update your contact details for product support by submitting a ticket. (Tip: SDL is the company and SDL Tridion is the Web Content Management system)
  7. Get started with the community at SDL Tridion World. Ask for a Tridion World ommunity account, which is separate from the details for Support tickets.
Then really get started by learning what's needed in your new role. If you can get an overview or training, great! Maybe I'll see you on site. But be sure to confirm are you:
  • A (the) new developer for the platform?
  • Vendor contact, handling questions down to tickets with the vendor?
  • Serving a business or business analyst role
One final tip if you are part of the team managing the system:
I've taken for granted in setups where I was there from the start is I knew what we wanted to build. Coming into a new environment, you don't know what the challenges were or why a system was set up in a certain way. So you won't know what a specific field in Tridion does without checking simply because it depends on how the original team built it.
And that could be a surprise and possible opportunity for you with a change in "ownership" for something like Tridion. The forms, approach, architecture, and setup are meant to be managed as well as be flexible enough to meet your needs, back when it was first setup and now with you on board.

Welcome to the community, fellow Tridionaut. :-)

Managing Robots META Tags with Tridion or any CMS*

*"Any CMS" refers to any system that lets you configure your own authorable-fields to be rendered as you prefer, in this case <META> tags with name attribute set to "ROBOTS."

I often see requirements that have likely made their way from an original Request for Proposal (RFP) to a CMS Functional Design that reads something like: "authors should have the ability to set page-level meta tags including the Robots meta tag."

This meta tag "tells" search engines how to index content on a given Web page and its links.*

Valid Content values for <META NAME="ROBOTS"> includes:


And if absent, the default is INDEX,FOLLOW. See the Web Robots Pages for the details.

*Bots aren't forced to actually listen to these instructions, though I'd say most search engines try to play nice. 

What Does Contextual Image Delivery Mean for SDL Tridion Images?

+Will Price wrote a great explanation on the SDL Contextual Image Delivery in a DD4T setup. +Ian Homer adds even more context (pun intended) from a product and practical development perspective.

Let me add one more post try to compare SDL Contextual Image Delivery (CID) to what you may have done before with SDL Tridion and connect it to some business concerns and wins for managing and building websites.

Knowing and Solving the Right Problem

Before using or considering CID, you need to have this problem or question: "for a given (high-resolution) image, how should we handle displaying it in smaller sizes?" which I've been asked frequently by customers as described in my "Parking Lots" post.

If your default answers are:
  • Markup via Responsive Web Design or HTML attributes or CSS for width and height
  • Manually by creating multiple images versions (e.g. large/medium/small or full/thumbnail)
  • Generated with maybe a DAM creating multiple image sizes

Quick Navigation Tips on an SDL Tridion Environment and Asking Smart Questions

While updating training materials and working with Electridion Training, I'll sometimes come across the need to patch or fix an environment issue. Here are some tips and tricks that have helped me recently:
Scenario: I couldn't update a profile picture with Chrome and though this might not be mission critical in a typical production environment, it's important to my new "how to update your profile picture" exercise.
Following the hot-fix instructions for Hotfix 2013.1.0.87586, I needed to update a file in the following folder:


Tip 1: %TRIDION_HOME% or any %ENVIRONMENT_VARIABLE% is recognized in Explorer, the Run command, and DOS commands.

Tip 2: Windows shortcuts come in handy. Most of these should be familiar.

Windows + E Windows Explorer
ALT + D Navigation Bar in many Browsers as well as Explorer
CTRL + C, V, ArrowsTypical copy, paste, and quick moves (use shift to quickly highlight)
ALT + Tab Cycle through Windows
CTRL + F / CTRL + H Find / Find & Replace
Windows Button + Start Typing If feeling lost without the Start Button, simply press the Windows Key and then type the name of the program you want

So for this hotfix after unzipping, you can:

First Step in Designing Content Entry Forms

The first step in setting up authoring forms in a CMS that lets you create your own content types isn't making the content definitions or schemas. The first step is defining and naming the content.

I recently posted on how to model an example page for practically any Content Management System (CMS). But I didn't explain why the first step of naming the page and content types was important.

8 Reasons to Start with a Name

Here's what I've learned in the last few years and why I think naming types of content is very important:

  1. Names mean something to the business that will have to manage the content. If the team calls something "rich text" it implies authoring freedom whereas a "product" has completely different requirements.
  2. Names imply owners, a process, and possibly a content life cycle.
  3. Naming a type of content lets you define where it is allowed, how it displays, and additional processes or functionality associated with it.
  4. Names let you compare and contrast with others. For example, are you using the same schema names that Microsoft, Google, Yahoo!, and Yandex use for defining "content?" If so, should you consider (some) of the same fields?
  5. Names give you relationships and priority when viewing options in an alphabetical list.
  6. Names tell you if you're mixing content structure with presentation. For example a schema called accordion suggests how it will present. But an accordion is basically repeated headings and subsections. Schemas should drive structure and control re-use rather than functionality simply because it is much easier to make a new accordion template (or update an existing one) than it is to move existing content into an accordion schema for a presentation change.
  7. Plural names suggest content relationships and whether you should group sets of fields (with embedded schema) or keep them in separate components. You have different approaches if the business updates "the FAQ," versus several "FAQs," or even many "Q&As."
  8. Finally, a name gives you a way to interpret the significance of content by quantifying, planning for, and confirming its business impact. My favorite non-CMS example is the Million Dollar Homepage, where 100 pixels cost $100. The business case included pixel-perfect placement, no text, and no changes; so no CMS required. When implementing a CMS, the homepage for a major retailer will have different requirements than a microsite or even a corporate homepage. Terms like "product," "tool," or "gallery" all at least imply different approaches.

Brand Defending and Organic CXM

Have you heard about customer experience management? Back when the question was, "what about a website" the idea that Web would somehow relate to "customer experience" was, well, silly. As consumers, we researched, asked around, and bought from the local, from the physical.

We do the same now, but also leave a digital trail that companies can listen and respond to if they're savvy (or maybe crazy) enough. So though we might still buy from the physical, local store, we check, validate, and confirm through search, our online social networks, and maybe by seeing what companies say about themselves.

Even for commodity goods, consumers don't buy on their own, isolated from what others think. We're almost compelled to share and contrast what we do, who we are, and especially what we buy. You know the joke?
  • If you're rich: "look at me and how much I spent on this."
  • If you're poor: "look at how much I saved on this!"
By the way, wealth isn't about what you could own, but how long you can continue experiencing what you do without additional income. In a way it's related to art. If you've read Seth Godin, you might recognize art as something you do to keep being able to do more art. Though this blog never broke $24.77 in ad revenue (I dropped the ads last March), I've definitely enjoyed my part in the Tridion community.
Tridion Blogging -- earn enough  to buy yourself a nice gift under $25.
Companies only have control on part of the customer experience, but they can manage their response by measuring and encouraging activities that customers value.

SDL Tridion Experience Manager via XBox Kinect for the Ultimate Experience

I've seen SDL Tridion Experience Manager work in a tablet, but I wanted to try a completely different browser experience after having played with Microsoft's Kinect. Though not technically supported I managed to get the following going on a local VM with SDL Tridion 2013 SP1 running on the home network.

Use the following gestures via Kinect on Xbox One's Internet Explorer.
Bring together two "C's" for a Component and a Component Template to create a Component Presentation on the current page.

A bit trickier, but re-arrange content using open-palm hands. This worked best with thumbs on top and the backs of my hands facing forward for some reason.
More on configuring this setup with XBox One's Internet Explorer after the jump...