Archive for May, 2011

Adobe’s Day CQ 5.3 – My view of the product

Thursday, May 26th, 2011

Day CQ has been in news ever since Adobe decided to acquire the company. Firstly, it was around providing a WEM platform along with Adobe’s online marketing suite and than as highlighted by @irina_guseva from RSG, CQ5 WCM development skills are hot — and scarce. I recently had some hands-on experience in exploring the porduct and we launched three websites in the space of five months, which clearly highlights one of the main strengths of the product i.e. quick time to market. There are lots of positives about the product. To list a few are:

Strengths

Strengths

  • Easy to setup and get started
  • Architecture (Open source + standards)
  • Sling framework is pretty cool ! .html to .xml to .json etc
  • Jackrabbit, Felix OSGi bundles JCR 283 Standards compliant
  • Default cluster of one, so easy to add remove new instances
  • Syndication/ content sync is pretty fast
  • Packaging architecture is neat
  • System backups
  • Blogs (reverse publishing)
  • etc

And there are lot of sites which talk about its positivity. There are always two sides of the coin, and product does have some not soo good aspects as well. Find below the list which might be useful for users who are trying to evaluate CQ. The below list is based on my experience and I am happy if any of the CQ guru’s want to correct me:

Weakness

Weakness

  • Separation of component and content: The component model doesn’t really highlight the real value of a CMS product. Most of the components which comes out of the box doesn’t really separate content from presentation and I fould it hard until we adoped the approach of data components and presentation components. For more details, please refer to my old post: Adobe‚Äôs Day CQ : Separation of content from components
  • Multi Vendor and issue with CSS /Divs: CQ requires HTML, CSS to be defined in specific formats, as it adds a number of divs on its own to establish its paragraph system. If you are working in multi-vendor environment, where a creative agency is developing designs and mock-ups without any clue of CQ, it may sometimes be really hard to adopt it in CQ. It is better to look for some guidelines from CQ around the structure of HTML, CSS to be defined.
  • Thin Documentation: Even though dev.day.com has basic set of documentation available, it is really hard if you want to customize even a small bit of it. The architecture is pretty open but unless there are pointers to explore its really a big hinderance. The google groups CQ forum has more of queries than solutions, but recently it has been pretty busy.
  • Authoring WCM User Interface: UI for authors is Ajax based, and so it is an issue in organisations where JS is disabled. With JS disabled, the interface comes back as blank page.
  • CRXDE: Popular tool for development is CRXDE but we had troubles in its integration with SVN. The updates didn’t work as expected and you can’t check-out a single file. There is no proper guidelines to merge and resolve conflicts apart from doing it outside CRXDE
  • Reporting: Out of the box reporting available within CQ 5.3 is pretty thin and you need to write custom code to extract most of the required information. This has changed significantly with V 5.4.
  • Package Manager: New package manager with CQ 5.3 has number of issues and in my experience it is better to use the old package manager which is more reliable. Also, the UI for pacakge manager doesn’t refesh and hangs for ages.
  • Multiple interfaces: CQ comes with number of interfaces including WCM, CRX, Apache Felix, servlet engine administration. Some of the functionalities re overlapping across interfaces. It will be better to consolidate into one.
  • CQ Corruption: We have seen a situation where CQ stopped working just because someone switched off the machine while CQ was running. It happened to be that CRX repository was out of sync on local and shared directories which didn’t allow CQ to start again.
  • Sidekick is sleak but annoying and does page refresh for each action

If anyone wants to share their not so good experience with CQ please drop a comment or mail me and I will consolidate as part of the above post.

HTML Mockup and Content

Tuesday, May 24th, 2011

In my previous post, I wrote about HTML mock-ups and their importance. To extend on the same point, it is really important that sample of the actual content that needs to go on the page needs to be part of mock-up as well. In my previous experience, I have encountered various situations where lourel ipsum content works fine but when we replace with the actual content the mock-up starts breaking up. A classical example is usage of RTE (Rich Text Editor) where authors think that anything can fit in and will work but in reality creative agencies never have a view of which all styles to be defined in CSS so that content appears right. In the recent example. authors started inputting tables within RTE, the styles for which were never defined as part of CSS which lead to confusion and frustration on everyone’s part.

HTML Mockup

HTML Mockup

Actual content requirements

Actual content requirements

Another classical examples is management of headings (h1, h2, h3 etc.) within a page. When the creative agency define mock-up, they try to follow a hierarchial pathern for the heading from top to bottm with H1 (heading 1) appears first on the page and than H2’s, H3’s and so on. When the content is written, either in-house or by third party, they never has visibility of the format that needs to be followed i.e. whether to use H1 in their content or H2, H3 and this all leads to confused page with headings floating all around.

I think as part of mock-up testing and sign-off, it is important that we use sample of the actual content with all variations possible to be part of those pages. So, I think as part of the mock-up testing and sign-up, we should also include the right content to make sure of such scenario’s. Has anyone had such experiences to share?

Are you a good CMS User?

Friday, May 20th, 2011

Are you a good CMS user? CM instinct are part of our day to day life. The thinking about CMS usage starts from our day to day job. Think about what all you do as a normal day for a moment and read on.

I am into consulting and spend most of the time using a PC, laptops, storage devices etc. I am sure most of the users who will read this blog will be in the same boat. The managment of day to day work is a CM. Whichever operating systems we have on our laotps, it is providing the basic framework to manage your conent.It provides features like setting up heirarchy, setting folders, files templates, basic and advance search, content creation through adding apps in the framework (creating word doc, spreadsheet, pdf etc.), management of digital assets etc.

How to make use of the framework effectively is left in the hands of the user and that’s where your CM thinking cap goes on. Some of the users manage their documents effectively creating a folder hierarchy, adding meta information etc. while others leave it in the hands of search engine.Some users version the document to manage history while others doesn’t care about it, and many such examples can be included.

If you are good at managing your day to day work, in anything you do, I am sure you will be much better in using a CMS product. Bacause the same thinking will apply behind anything you do in CMS and you will be as good a CMS user as any CMS greek out there, if not better :)

Bundled CMS with Portal: Are they an option?

Monday, May 16th, 2011

Most of the well known Portal products in market comes with some form or shape of web content management systems. The supplied WCM tools are very basic while other are funcionality rich. For example:

IBM’s Web content Manager (previously called Lotus WWCM) is very tightly integrated with WebSphere Portal. The product was originally was acquired by IBM and over the period of few releases it has move forward from just being a simple WCM product to more rich functionality. The support for personalize content and integation with portal’s personalization engine adds new dimension.

Liferay has built in product called Liferay CMS (previously known as Journal) which is tightly integrated within Portal and let you perform basic CMS functionalities though it is not as rich as IBM’s WCM. It does provides integration with jBPM to manage complex workflows. No personalization of content that I am aware of.

Oracle’s UCM is a true WCM product and could stand on its own (not the once mentioned above). It is far more complex and provides a wide range of capabilities – document management, versioning, document collaboration etc. The newest version provides a tag based architecture, allows you to embed services in content regions, runs and scales on WebLogic Server, and has some interesting web app functionality to create content driven web applications without a lot of coding. However, it is not as tightly integrated with any portal in the WebCenter Suite.

Lots of time people have an opinion that bundled CMS are not capable to handle requirements and they start buying bigger CMS products and start integration work. In my experience, it is worth to evaluate bundled option first before even looking out for CMS. Evaluate how much of the requirements are met with the current bundled version and if the percerntage is significantly high stick with it. Integration with other CMS will not only create inegration nightmares but will also add high cost to licences with the gain not in proportion to spending.