Going back in time, year 2000, Active Server Pages was all the rage, performing server-side magic and integrating with databases with ADO. Tridion had just released version 4.0 and adopted the MS Scripting Host, supporting VBScript and JScript as the de-facto standard scripting languages. We had DTD Schemas, XML, Blueprinting, and re-usable content. Content Delivery was 1 ISAPI filter to render the dynamic links. Life was good.
Today the landscape is very different and complex, with lots of the magic happening on the front-end Content Delivery tier, Context aware web applications serving mobile and desktop devices, running the latest SDL Content Delivery stack.
Today the standard supported template languages from the CMS is almost the same as it was in 2000 – we publish content – .aspx or .jsp files, from the CMS to the Content Delivery tier. We can still use the good old deprectated VBScript language, or the SDL-created DWT scripting tags, or the recent XSLT mediator, if XSLT is your thing. So, you want to stay within the ‘supported SDL technologies and products’ arena – this is it. Not cool.
But, look around and see what the SDL community has been up to, and hang on to your hat! It’s been a very busy last few years in the SDL community and today this is where all the cool kids hang out. .NET MVC – got it, with DD4T, created by Quirijn Slings – with great Forum support (185 questions answered) on StackExchange, classroom training from Trivident, and even a ‘Reference Implementation‘ built BY SDL on top of DD4T, called DXA (as of Feb 2015). Yes, the Reference Implementation is built on top of open-source SDL community software, by SDL, and yet DD4T is community software and not officially licensed or supported by SDL.
Maybe DD4T and a dynamic MVC runtime is not your thing. Your content or design is not changing too often, and your development team is happy with the static publishing model from years past.
If this is the case then the best option today is the Razor Mediator, created by Alexander Klock – again an open-source project, and again the most cool and often used technology on new SDL Tridion projects requiring static template programming, and again not officially supported by SDL. It also has good forum support (50 answers), great documentation with plenty of examples, and is widely used. With this mediator you might publish to a .NET Web Forms site or JSP files to a Web Application.
The good news is both of these solutions play well with the _really_ cool technology SDL has been creating and supporting in the Content Delivery tier. Yes, I’m referring to the pieces that make up SDL Mobile, including the Ambient Data Framework, Context Engine and Contextual Image Delivery. In addition, all of these open source frameworks also play well with other SDL supported software including SmartTarget, FredHopper, and Media Manager.
The community has grown by leaps and bounds in the past 15 years, and today this is where all the cool stuff is happening. It’s great to see so many active members in the community. If you have written your own framework, or built on top of the existing great frameworks out there, please share your solutions so we can together build the great frameworks of tomorrow. If you’re thinking about using one of the frameworks above, go ahead and embrace these open source frameworks and be part of the community that created them.
These frameworks and solutions would not be where they are today without the time and support of developers at these organizations: Trivident, Indivirtual, HintTech, Building Blocks, Cap Gemini, SDL and Yabolka. Also, a big thanks to Nuno Linhares for his continued support of the SDL Community and organizing of the SDL Tridion MVP program.