DD4T 2.0: the Templates have arrived!

You may have heard the buzz about a new major release of the most popular content delivery framework for Tridion? Well, get ready: the ever-growing community is about to release DD4T 2.0. In fact, a beta-release of the DD4T 2.0 Templates was released to the public a couple of days ago.

As of version 2.0, development will take place in three streams:

  • Templates
  • Java delivery layer (a.k.a. presentation layer)
  • .NET delivery layer (a.k.a. presentation layer)

A beta version of DD4T 2.0 for Java will be released very soon now. Check out this post by Raimond Kempees to get an idea of what you can expect!

Microsoft fans will have to wait a little longer: the development process was started only last week with a kick-off meeting. The plan is to have DD4T 2.0 for .NET released by the summer.

Why use the templates now?

So the templates are out, albeit in a beta version. The first question: are they useful at all when the corresponding Java or .NET libraries are not yet available? The answer is: yes, they certainly are. For one thing, the 2.0 templates are fully backwards compatible with a DD4T 1.31 presentation layer (which is the version most people are using). You can safely give the new templates a test ride, or even upgrade your templates altogether. That way, you are well-prepared by the time the 2.0 Java / .NET editions are released.

But there is more! Although the primary purpose of this release is to support the new features which will be part of the 2.0 presentation layer, you will immediately benefit from new features and bugfixes.

A short summary:

  • Full support for SDL Media Manager and other ECL-integrations (see this highly informative post if you want to know more about ECL)
  • Reduced data size, by allowing you to omit many rarely-used data elements, such as owningpublication, contentpublication, the separate list of categories and string-representations of links
  • It is no longer necessary to include a separate TBB ‘Publish binaries for components’ (or for pages) in your templates; binaries are now resolved and published by default
  • Complete representation of keywords in case of keyword fields, including keyword metadata, related binaries, etc.
  • Fix for the annoying bug that links in rich text fields to multimedia components, were not being resolved

A more extensive overview can be found in the release notes.

How to

To use the new templates, simply run the installer which you will find on the release site, and point it to a folder in your Tridion instance. This will create all the DD4T TBBs. If you were used to the slick template installer of DD4T 1, you may be a bit disappointed: the new installer is a simple bat-file (the old installer was written in the ‘Setup and Deploy’ project type which is no longer supported by Microsoft). However, the script works just as well.

Next, use the TBBs in your templates. Or actually, just use ‘Generate Dynamic Component’ or ‘Generate Dynamic Page’. You will find that almost everything you want is now handled by these TBBs.

You can try out the various parameters to see what they do. But there are a two parameters you should not use with a DD4T 1.x front-end:

Serialization Format
You can choose between XML and JSON! However, since DD4T 1 for Java and .NET expect XML, don’t use this setting. It’s tempting though!

Compression Enabled
Another great new feature which is coming your way is the possibility of compressing the data you publish to the broker database. Compression reduces the size of the published data in the broker database, and it is faster to transport from the database to your web application. The result will be: a much faster site. Unfortunately, you will have to wait for the 2.0 delivery stacks to actually use this feature.

If you leave these two parameters alone, you are fine. The default setting is ‘uncompressed XML’, fully compatible with a DD4T 1.x delivery stack.



What’s next?

The beta-period will probably last a couple of weeks. After that, the release will be made final. Why don’t you give it a try?

Happy DD4T’ing.