Whenever you publish a page, component or another type of item in Tridion, the item is first published, then transported and finally deployed. SDL offers various ways to extend or modify this deployment process. All you need to do is write some custom java code. The most commonly used extension points are deployer modules and storage DAOs. You can find more about this here and here.
In this post I’m not going to explain what these extensions are and what you can do with them. Instead, I will focus on how to develop this type of extension effectively. As always with Java (in my experience at least), the code is easy but the environment is hard. But if you follow these instructions, you will be able to run your customizations locally, make sure they get triggered, and even perform step-through debugging on your code. Pure bliss!
These days the standard way to get your java libraries is through Maven. However, sometimes you still need to deal with jar files that aren’t available through Maven at all. Perhaps some software vendor has provided a set of jars, or you have a custom build that you aren’t allowed to publish at all.
If this is the case, you could just reference the jars on the file system, the old school approach. But you can also mavenize them yourself, and store them in your local Maven repository (which can be found in your user profile folder, in the folder .m2). That makes it possible to reference these libraries in a pom.xml or in a build.gradle file, giving you all the advantages of modern dependency management.
On February 12th, SDL released DXA 2.0, the shiny new version of the Digital Experience Accelerator. Part of this new version is a new REST service called the model service, which is able to return content quicker, and in a leaner format. Not only that, the model service is also able to resolve links in the content on the fly. This is an important improvement, because link resolving is one of the most expensive operations in DXA as well as DD4T.
A full migration of your application from DD4T to DXA is far from trivial, at least not with the DXA 2.0 release that is currently out. But there is good news: it is very easy to start using the DXA model service in your DD4T .NET application (it is also possible with a Java DD4T application, but we’ll discuss that some other time). Your application is likely to become faster because of it.
There is one important condition: you have to use SDL Web 8.1 or higher, and DD4T 2.0 or higher, in order to upgrade to the model service.
A typical DD4T page simply displays the component presentations on that page. But what if your requirements go a little further than that? What if you are asked to show a list of all press releases in the system, and you want to retrieve them from SDL’s broker database? This article explains how you would set about to achieve this.
The Tridion template builder is a great tool, but it can sometimes be tricky to install. SDL have chosen to distribute it through the ClickOnce mechanism (see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ClickOnce). This does not work with Chrome out of the box, and I haven’t always had good results with the various ClickOnce Chrome extensions out there. Instead, I normally start up IE and point it to the CM site, click on the Tools ribbon and install the Template Builder from there.
There are times when even this approach does not work, for example if I’m working on some locked down machine. For these occasions it is good to know that the Template Builder is portable – or rather portable-ish.