Tuesday, December 30, 2014

SDL Tridion integration with Portal Servers

One very common use case during enterprise implementations is integrating SDL Tridion with Portal servers. There are several approaches out there, this article will show 2 options that can be use perform such integration.
Integrating with Portal servers is not an straight forward exercise since Portals control the overall page rendering as well as page life cycle, in that sense SDL Tridion becomes to be a data (content) repository that is consumed in certain manner. Portals can consume formatted or unformatted data from Tridion in the format of XML, JSON or HTML chunks, selecting the content format is very important since it will determine design and styling responsibilities.

Thinking as a Software Architect I prefer to specialize responsibilities instead of sharing responsibilities between different systems. Having said that I prefer sending unformatted data to the Portal Server and passing the Content formatting and styling to the Portal server itself.

Based on different approaches I’ve seen so far I have determined two different options

Option 1: Integrated through the Content Delivery Web Service

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  • Data (Content) is consumed via the Content Delivery Web Service
  • Binaries are consumed via the Content Delivery Web Service or via a Network Shared location (NAS)
  • Content is sent unformatted using JSON or XML  (no styling)

Option 2: Building Meta Files

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  • A deployer extension to be developed in order to build a Meta Page File containing Content Positioning as well as relevant metadata is generated during publishing
  • The Portal Server will consume the Page Meta File by mapping the Portal Page name with the Page Meta File name File Name
  • The Meta File Name will contain unformatted data in XML or JSON format (No Styling)
  • Binaries are consumed from a Network Shared  location (NAS)

The two options shown above are not intended to be considered final solution but to be options to be evaluated during Portal Integrations. Below my considerations to take while deciding the Integration strategy

  • Styling to be controlled in only 1 system (SDL Tridion or the Portal Server). I would suggest to control Styling in the Portal Server so that the HTML Design Team will work with only 1 paradigm
  • Page  Life Cycle to be controlled by the Portal Server
  • SDL Tridion to control editorial content as well as any relevant metadata
  • SDL Tridion to control Binaries
  • SDL Tridion page templates to produce unformatted data that can be consumed by Portals (Option 2)
  • Component Templates to produce unformatted data that can be consumed by Portals (Option 1 and 2)

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