Year Two at the Tridion (Sites) Mothership

It's been a year since my last "Year-in-Review" post. Actually, it's been a year since my last post on my personal blog (but not on SDL Community!).

The Dutch Life

In terms of life in the Netherlands, we (BSMSO) fixed up the house with refurbished, temporary kitchen cabinets and (BSMSO) redid the backyard. We traveled a bit more in our second year here and had family visit us.

We even got annual passes to Disneyland Paris, visiting for a few trips including the May the Fourth celebration.
May the 4th Be with You

How we celebrate Star Wars in Europe 

His outfit was a hit but we're not sure if it's because he looked like a small Jedi... or a Jawa

My feet and back still hurt thinking about all the trips from carrying the kids, which probably wasn't helped by my choice of footwear, popularized in the Tridion community most prominently by this guy.
Of course, you need a Chuck II Shield Canvas in the Netherlands.
Because... rain.
And custom Chuck Taylors for the office. 
A new nickname "Al Vino" deserves a Dark Sangria Chuck Taylor.

The year wasn't all about Disneyland and cool shoes. Coincidentally, 2017 was also the year a few of my earliest "Tridion" colleagues moved to the Netherlands. And our kids get along! I'm feeling so adult.

Those were personal highlights. I also saw some changes at work this year.

New Know

One of the biggest changes was Nuno Linhares reinventing himself into a solutions guru that solves problems with tools I can almost articulate. Whatever he actually does, he's back to sharing practical expertise with things like hands-on guides on DXA .NET and Java, answers on Tridion Stack Exchange, and Tridion Developer Summit presentations.

Nuno Re-envisioned aka Nuno the Legend of the Phoenix (Wenartwork) aka the Tridion Universe Phase II III
Things worked out after a brief existential crisis. Though I lost Nuno, the boss, his return to the Netherlands means we all get Nuno the friend, mentor, and problem-solver.

Tridion Changes

Independent of New Know's new role, product development adopted a few welcome, though not always easy, improvements to our development process including a change in teams, new roles, and new people.

We shifted towards more feature teams over traditional component teams. This means a given team can work on, for example, a feature in the Content Manager Explorer UI and back-end Content Manager, which helps reduce dependencies and hand-offs.

Our various SDL Tridion Sites Feature Teams typically work on end-to-end features across one or more components.

We continued our adoption of scaled agile practices (SAFe). Dedicated Product Owners and part-to-full-time Scrum masters improved our collaboration between product management and development teams while letting some of our senior developers do more development and less paperwork.

As part of the changes, I adopted the new title/role of Product Owner (read the interview), which is very much a product job with a more internal focus (see Melissa Perri's post describing the two roles and her point that Product Owner is a role whereas Product Management is the job).

We also increased product management expertise from various backgrounds outside the company. Though we've previously boasted product management had several decades of Tridion expertise, it's nice to compliment this with several decades of product management experience at various levels.

The hardest part of this year was saying goodbye to colleagues who are hopefully enjoying new challenges and success in new roles. I hope we can make them proud and act as good stewards of the software they built and grew. Though I did tease one colleague that just to spite him, someday I'm going to brag about that one feature he really really wanted. :-)


Having been on the inside for awhile now, or what one of my colleagues might call "living indoors," means I'm not on Tridion implementations. For better or worse, I don't live the life of an implementer.

Though I'll have a few personal blog posts in 2017, I was able to present to the community, blog on SDL Community, and connect several of our internal groups to the Tridion Sites technical community.


This year's community presentations included:

I also posted some follow-up answers including ways to integrate separate systems with the External Content Library.


I blogged what we worked on at the MVP retreat and offered an intro to Peter's PowerShell scripts along with some use cases you might explore yourself. I shared yet another post on (translation) context. Occasionally, I help with urgent issues that get turned into troubleshooting guides. I also thanked you for the love for SDL Web 8.5.

As mentioned in my last post, I had the opportunity to help reboot all of the SDL Ideas. Now I'm trying to be transparent and clear on what we need for enhancement requests, especially those related to integrations.

Connecting Others

And that was the year minus these remaining few weeks. I don't know how 2018 will turn out, but I'm definitely optimistic.


I initially came to the Netherlands with the idea of staying 2-to-3 years. But the chance to work on SDL Tridion Sites can be addicting on its own. And understanding the customer's challenges and the speed of change in the World means the job of prioritizing problems is never done.

So next year I'm really looking forward to the planned Tridion Sites 9 release and then working with the other teams to start transforming the UX vision (see parts 1 and 2) into reality.

How did your year go? Was it everything you expected? Did you get the Phoenix joke? Leave a comment or share your own "Year-in-Review" post. Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, yo Saturnalia, and see you in the New Year.

Al Vino the Connector

While working on a "Year in Review" post, I noticed how I've changed in interacting with the community. Previously, I often shared things I was personally working on which somehow got me to over 300 Tridion-related blog posts by last year.

And as much as I've loved (and continue) sharing myself, I also enjoy encouraging others to share with the Tridion Sites technical community. Many agree it's a Great IdeaTM but some feel I have some special connection and maybe "street cred" with the community. Perhaps they mistake verbosity with credibility? :-)

Anyways, in the end, I'll often connect my colleagues or their work to the larger community. This includes:
  • Documentation
  • Education
  • SDL Community Teasers
  • Market Research


One nice part of working at Tridion Sites HQ are all the system diagrams. It's not just the occasional BluePrint diagram seen at a client site, but diagrams on all kinds of scenarios, components, and overviews on whiteboards and in digital format.

I was quite excited to offer feedback to a re-envisioned overview diagram with Technical Writer Julie Landman and help solicit feedback on SDL Community.


Having a functional consultant and business analyst background plus being in a product role means lots of questions. It's nice being a called upon as a subject matter expert, but my time and even my expertise on (lots) of topics are limited.

I followed up on a question from Education with some questions of my own on typical content organizations. If you haven't already (it's not that popular of a post for some reason), feel free to describe what you've seen in your day-to-day work or implementations. I'll share the results back with Education and UX.

SDL Community Teasers 

Fellow colleague Bart Koopman and I have been helping manage that small promotional spot on the SDL Tridion Sites group alongside our colleagues in Customer Enablement.

Content promos or teasers always look simple... on the surface.

Hey, it's a contextual editing button for our SDL Community platform (Telligent-powered).

Wait, what do you mean it's not just a list or set of embedded fields?

These call-outs are not managed with Tridion, but they're definitely managed content. We can't take credit for the nice images, though I shared a few things including the marketing survey, the 2013 SP1 Support extension, and Jan Horsman's Community Review (the posts are tagged #community).

Market Research

Working with our User Experience team, I've previously encouraged the community to participate in user research. This year I made a small post to ask for more market research in the form of the August survey from Product Marketing.

Maybe you've participated in the survey or recognize some of your own projects, but do be mindful of confidentiality especially since participants can choose to share the results of their answers at various levels of anonymity.

It's definitely nice to see how our software helps customers solve real problems.

Community Enabled and Empowered

The most refreshing thing about sharing in 2017 is the explicit support of leadership from our VP of Product to Product Management Director, leadership in Professional Services, and the official SDL Community platform. We're seeing more posts, technical webinars, and video content as we shift from our strong organic efforts to the next step in our community maturity.

Connected by Alvin

Oh, I almost forgot to explain the title of this post. By some prophetic coincidence, three of our recent Product Managers have the word "no" in their name (Nuno, Onno, and now Arno). As a joke that maybe I could work towards such a title, I'm adopting yet another nickname: Alvino, which makes a nice pun in Spanish as "Al vino" (to the wine).

Regardless of the title, there's something quite satisfying in working with the team that helps connect SDL Tridion Sites to everything as well as connecting technical writing, education, product marketing, and other groups to our technical community.

Once a Project Manager... (The Reboot of all SDL Ideas)

About a year back someone apparently liked how I helped reboot SDL Tridion Ideas and so volunteered me to help the community team reboot all of the SDL Idea sites which became an interesting exercise in Midas Rule and change management (change leadership even).

I've heard "Product Management" described as a role with all of the responsibilities but none of the authority. But I'll argue that project management, especially cross-functional project management, is even more challenging.

Credit for the implementation, technical integrations, and managing the actual requests go to the community team and respective product groups. I'm just proud and lucky enough to play the role of "connector" or maybe minor facilitator in the SDL Ideas reboot. Anyways, remembering the mission, being flexible in the details, and sharing ownership while respecting the Midas Rule seemed to work.

Deceptively simple: align public ideas across all SDL product lines. Credit goes to John Backx and Lennert for the reboot. I had the job of poster child saying, "yeah, sure we rebooted SDL Tridion Ideas and it was all good. Sure, sure they don't bite."
The next phase of this project is getting more people to use SDL Ideas while doing my part to respond to ideas that apply to my own projects.