Tridion 2011 Search Hacks

August 16th, 2012 | Posted by Robert Curlette in Tridion 2011 - (0 Comments)

If you recently upgraded to Tridion 2011 and your search results are not what you expected please read on – with a few simple tips your search results will improve and you’ll stop singing that U2 song ‘I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For’.

Tridion 2011 comes with the super-powered Solr search engine – this is an open-source search engine from the Apache project built on top of Lucene; new in Tridion 2011.  Previous versions used Verity.

The search box on the dashboard works as advertised – it searches within the current context for matches – in all types of items from Components to Templates to Schemas.  Context is important here.  And you can still type Tridion TCM URIs in the box and open the item directly.

Wildcards are your friend

What makes the difference from a few items found and many are the wildcards you use.  Simply place a * before the word and after and your chances for finding matches increases exponentially.  This is especially true when searching in template code.

For example, if I want to find where the field intro_text is used in a template I can use *intro_text*.

Other wildcard combinations are possible with the ? character, saying to use any character.  For example te?t will match test and text.  Although probably not as useful as the * keyword – it is possible.  Solr is built on top of Lucene – meaning it uses the Lucene search engine and adds additional features such as facets and an http-based API.  For additional search help see

Advanced Options

Using the Advanced search window you can increase the amount of items returned (default is 50) and filter the types of items searched.  Perhaps the most important setting is the amount of items returned.


Populating the search index

After upgrading your existing installation to Tridion 2011 you will need to populate the Solr Search index first before search results are returned.  You can do this with the  TcmReIndex.exe tool located in the Tridion/bin folder.  Without running this tool your search index is empty.  Afterwards, whenever a user saves any item in Tridion the Seach Service populates the Tridion search index with that items’ content.

Tridion did a good job of including the powerful Solr search engine with Tridion 2011.  With the new engine we have faster searches and more possibilities.  With a little bit of luck your searches will help you find what you’re looking for.

Tridion 2011 brought us the ability to change the users experience in the GUI. This is something I wanted (and needed) to do for the last 10 years – but was not allowed to but was not comfortable doing with the lack of documentation and support. The ability to officially modify the Tridion GUI and modify the default experience for users arrived in Tridion 2011 Tridion 5.2 and was continually expanded on until fully embraced in 2011. Before 2011 it was possible, but the official response from Tridion was ‘It’s not supported’ and if a customer called Tridion with a modified GUI Tridion ASP system files and would not receive support.  Needless to say, we never modified the GUI as a general practice as part of an implementation – it felt too unsupported and undocumented.

This changed in Tridion 2011. One of the features added was to write our own ‘GUI Extensions’ and these new extensions were supported – and documented. Not only that, but we had a brand new javascript framework called Anguilla that we have available to use for extending the GUI. Next to the Anguilla framework we also have the ability to add buttons to the GUI, extra columns to the list view and even tabs to the Edit windows of item types. This is revolutionary in the Tridion world, where previously our GUI was locked down by R & D generally not open to edit except for specific extension points, and then not documented as in 2011, and I instantly fell in love with this new concept. After attempting to create my own extensions using existing blog posts and documentation I quickly got stuck – all guides showed how to add the buttons, etc – but what about functionality with Tridion? I found some great code samples on Tridion World – but no explanations. So, I decided to spend some serious quality time and dig into the Anguilla framework and GUI Extension technology. I was very lucky to have the full support of the Tridion Community and before too long I had a working GUI extension and started to make sense of the madness. I did it – and decided to share my newfound love with the world. What followed was a series of blog posts about creating GUI extensions. I tried to fill the gap between what documentation was available and what was possible. I tried to give a code sample and explanation for each type of new extension. I did this with the thought that everyone should be able to write this code, and do it with a good understanding of what it does.

Now Alvin wrote his post and it made me think – is it now understood as a common step in an implementation to modify the GUI? For me writing custom pages and modifying the GUI are always part of an implementation, but a small part with a big impact on daily usability, often saving users hours of time per week. Another way to save users time each week is to have a well-defined Schema, clear folder structure, solid Blueprint, and clear instructions. This is Alvin’s point and I 100% agree – this is the main goal of every implementation – clean, well-defined, and clear. These goals do not require GUI Extensions but they require a clear understanding of the business requirements and an architecture design that enables ease of use in the Tridion system. Indeed, Tridion is an open box and everything is possible- allowing customers and partners to misuse various features or not use them to full effect. An amazing GUI Extension will not compensate for this basic lack of a solid foundation.  GUI Extensions are the whipped cream on top. Not all implementations need it – but when it is there it gives a very nice finish to an already great product.

Tridion 2011 provides shortcuts for several actions to navigate the tree view in the GUI and open items.  However, many other operations do not have a hotkey available, such as the Publish Queue.  During a normal day I open the Publish Queue many times, often from a Component or Page view.  I also have minimized the ribbon toolbar and finding the Publish Queue button is still an effort.  I wanted a shortcut key to assign to the Publish Queue to bring it up.  In this post I’ll explain how I added the hotkey to the Tridion GUI using a GUI Extension and provide a way for you to further customize it with your own hotkeys.

Code published at

Update:  Big thanks to @puf for the comments.  Code is updated to reflect them.

Step 1:  Create the Folder for the GUI Extension.  I created the folder for the GUI Extension:  C:\Program Files\Tridion\web\WebUI\Editors\Shortcuts

Step 2:  Add the js files

For this extension I am using an external js library called Mousetrap,  It is an excellent library, stand-alone, no dependencies, and only 1.6kb when minified.  This is important to know because the js library will load on every GUI view.

Create a js folder in the Shortcuts folder and put the mousetrap.min.js file there.

Step 3:  Adding our shortcut

Create another js file and call it mousekeys.js.  This is the place we’ll define our shortcuts and map them to GUI Javascript calls.

The below code was borrowed and adapted  from Albert Romkes excellent post about adding js files without showing a GUI element.


//If you only want your code to affect certain screens/views, you should listen to Anguilla events like this:
$evt.addEventHandler($display, "start", onDisplayStarted);

// This callback is called when any view has finished loading
function onDisplayStarted() {

	// Open Publish Queue dialog
	Mousetrap.bind('q', function() {
	                // UPDATE:  Below is the easy way to do it.  Make sure to update your Shortcuts.config to include the CME dependencies.  Big thanks to Frank van Puffelen (@puf) for the suggestion!

			//var popup = $popup.create($cme.Popups.PUBLISH_QUEUE.URL, $cme.Popups.PUBLISH_QUEUE.FEATURES);

    $evt.removeEventHandler($display, "start", onDisplayStarted);


   //if ($display.getView().getId() == "ComponentView") {
		//alert('comp view');

Step 4:  Finding the js call for the Tridion functionality

Using Firebug I inspected the Publish Queue button and then searched through the GUI js using Firebug Script window and found the code to open the Publish Dialog.  I feel lucky to have found it and that it worked.  🙂  This is not always so easy and you might want to do some research before planning on mapping a shortcut to a favorite functionality, like checking-in or checking-out TBBs.  (if you do figure out how to do this pls leave a comment!)  🙂  What other hotkey mappings would you like to see?

Step 5:  Create the config file for the extension

For me this was the first time using the domain model element within the config node.  It is a distinct difference between the normal method of having the cfg:file set node under the cfg:group node.


<?xml version="1.0" ?>
    Tridion Hotkeys Extension

    Copyright (C) 2012 Robert Curlette
<Configuration xmlns="" xmlns:cfg="" xmlns:ext="" xmlns:cmenu="">
  <resources cache="true">
      <cfg:group name="Curlette.Shortcuts" merger="Tridion.Web.UI.Core.Configuration.Resources.CommandGroupProcessor" merge="always">
          <cfg:domainmodel name="MousetrapDomain">
              <cfg:file type="script" id="mousetrapLib">/js/mousetrap.min.js</cfg:file>
              <cfg:file type="script" id="mouseKeys">/js/mousekeys.js</cfg:file>
            <cfg:services />
      <ext:editorextension target="CME">
        <ext:contextmenus />

Step 6:  Add the GUI Extension to the GUI
C:\Program Files\Tridion\web\WebUI\WebRoot\Configuration\System.config

<editor name="TridionShortcuts" xmlns="">
<installpath xmlns="">C:\Program Files\Tridion\web\WebUI\Editors\Shortcuts</installpath>
      <configuration xmlns="">Shortcuts.config</configuration>
      <vdir xmlns="">Shortcuts</vdir>

Step 7:  Flush browser cache and try it.

Press the ‘q’ key in any window.  The moustrap js library does not work if you are in a text box or an input element, even if you use the ctrl-q key instead of ‘q’ as a hokey.

Code published at


The GUI Extension framework allows us to easily enhance and enrich the User Experience using existing js libraries.  However, we should use care when adding libraries since they will be loaded with each GUI View and any errors in the js code will break the GUI.  To find out if your extension is breaking the gUI you can quicly comment it out in the System.config file and be back to normal very quickly.  I hope you enjoy using this and it makes it easier and quicker to view the Publish Queue.

Habits and Goals

July 16th, 2012 | Posted by Robert Curlette in Lifehacking - (0 Comments)

This is a non-technical and non-Tridion blog post.   This post is about habits – and how habits control more of what we do – or don’t do – than any other force.

Earlier this year I made a commitment to myself to post 1 time per week about Tridion.  This was my goal – and from it created some new habits.  However, recently I have not kept up the pace – falling behind on my weekly posting – and letting it slip.  I felt it slipping, making excuses to myself that it doesn’t matter a few more days – but the real crisis was I let go of my good habits – and without them I can’t get back to my weekly posting.

Recently I started reading a book on habits, The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business, – creating new habits as a necessity to reach an amazing, almost impossible goal.  And I realized this was the reason for my blog posts slipping – I lost my habits.  I related to the first story in the book where a woman imagines achieveing an almost impossible goal – and re-arranges her life to achieve it.  The example in the book tells of a woman wishing to travel through the Egyptian desert.  She imagines all the necessary training and conditioning she’ll need to do it – and then sets her mind on it.  It is impossible for her to do it at that time and she gives herself one year to get ready.  In the process she decides that she cannot smoke and also takes up running.  For me, posting on my blog every week on a Tridion topic also felt like an impossible goal, but exciting, with a potential trip to Portugal if I kept it up (Tridion MVP), and this was my ‘Egypt’ to work hard for.

When posting regularly, I noticed these good blog habits:

– Must have blog post idea before Saturday

– On weekend, spend 2-3 hours before lunchtime on the idea – try to write the blog post and get the code sample working

– Block time to continue on code sample and detailing the blog post on Mon / Tues.

– Post blog before Friday

These habits crowded-out other non-productive habits such as excessive time reading other blog posts / twitter, procrastinating, focusing on other non-Tridion technical topics, etc.  My goal and focus each week is the magical 2-3 hours on the weekend – and to have a gelled concept ready before then.  I know if this happens – the rest will follow through and work.  Losing track of this goal and these habits created a less productive and more boring week for me – the excitement of learning and sharing was gone, replaced with consuming content from other people’s twitter list and alternative programming languages and techniques.  But, I enjoy reading about other ways to do things and believe it increases my reach of solutions – but within a certain limit, and in a certain timeframe.

I recently followed Hacker News on twitter and the amount of interesting and non-relevant (non-Tridion related) articles is amazing.  I was reading these articles first thing in the morning – I loved it – learning new things (I thought) and then starting the day.  The problem was I was not learning new things – I was not practicing the techniques and they also didn’t help me with my Tridion-related projects or blog posts.  These articles were essentially noise and distracting my mind from my weekly focus.  Worse of all, I was doing this first thing in the morning – my most productive creative time of the day!  If I track back to when I slowed down blog posting and started following hacker news it correlates strongly.

A few years ago I put my TV in storage – I didn’t want to create the habit of sitting down every day afterwork and scrolling through the TV channels.  Of course, it helped 90% was in Dutch and I couldn’t understand it – but still, I wanted to explicitly chose what I watched rather than browsing through the channels.  I still love a good move and often go to the cinema or download a nice movie or series.

Little did I know that my twitter obsession with Hacker News was the same.  Twitter was my new TV and scrolling the posts was the same as browsing the TV channels – adding extra noise to my life.  I am not suggesting that we live in a cave and don’t get input from outside – but I am suggesting we control when we receive the input (after lunch or in a non-creative time) and we also control the source of the input.

Finally, knowing when we are most productive and limiting or removing other distractions is critical if we want to be successful at creating new things and contributing our ideas to our communities.  I hope to re-find my blog rhythm and start posting more frequently.  My first steps are to limit my content consuming activities to the afternoon, come up with a new blog post concept before Saturday, set aside first hour of the day for creative work (programming, writing) and finally using my born-again goal of weekly posting to crowd out the less productive bad habits I produced over the last few months.

I wish you many more successful habits and staying in the flow of your day.

Tridion 2011 nicely displays the Item’s URI in the address bar.  This is one of many favorite features in the new version.

For example, http://Tridion2011Dev/WebUI/Editors/CME/Views/Dashboard/Dashboard.aspx#locationId=tcm:22-2902-2

I can change 22 to 131 and then hop down to the Web Publication where I publish from – or to 6 and hop up to the Blueprint parent.

Tip:  Refresh 1 more time after updating the URL – and your browser will take you there.  Not sure why it does not work on the first attempt.

Edit:  Puf added a great tip for not needing the refresh!  Thanks!

From Frank van Puffelen:

The behavior of what happens when you change just the so-called document fragment identifier (the part after the # sign) of a URL depends on your browser.

If you want it to work first try (and get the back/forward buttons of your browser picking up such changes), paste this JavaScript fragment into your JavaScript console:

window.onhashchange=function(){$display.getView().navigateTo(location.hash.match(/[&#]locationId=([^&]*)/)[1], true);}

Happy navigating!


Changing the Background of the Tridion GUI is a must when you work in different environments. We don’t want to be making changes in Prod when we intended to be logged into Dev.

The Tridion LiveDocumentation site has an excellent article on this called ‘Skinning the Content Manager Explorer’. It took me about 10 minutes to setup one server and less on additional servers.

Finding the right color is the first challenge. I used and installed the firefox extension ColorZilla to use the Color picker and choose the Tridion GUI background color. It gave me a nice set of choices.

The next challenge I had was that the text of the Breadcrumb faded into the background and disappeared. To set the text color we need to add 1 style rule to the Development.css file Tridion provides (thanks for the starter file!).

/* Breadcrumbs */
.addressbar .addressbaritem
color: white;

That’s it! Thanks to the SDL Tridion R&D Team for the nicely documented feature.

Adding a new Tab to the Tridion Edit window is a powerful and easy GUI Extension to implement. The tab will show in all Edit windows or only the ComponentEdit “view”. SDL recently used this approach to integrate the Translation Management System (TMS) and World Server into the interface – great example of the extension! 🙂 In this tutorial we will create a ‘Hello There’ GUI Extension and explain the concepts behind adding an extra tab to the edit screen.

Getting Started
We’ll need the following:

  • Filesystem access to your Tridion 2011 CMS Server (Program Files\Tridion\)
  • Editor for XML, HTML, and ASCX files
  • A Tridion CMS system with no other users logged in (since we will most likely break the GUI at some point)

Summary, we will:
In Visual Studio, create a new project and an ASCX control

In a JavaScript editor, create a simple JavaScript GUI Extension

In an XML editor, create a HelloTab.config file and configure IIS

Copy files to a new folder on the server C:\Program Files (x86)\Tridion\web\WebUI\Editors\HelloTab and update the System.config file

Tips for working with Anguilla Framework

Part 1: Create the GUI Extension Project and add the User Control ASCX File

1. Open Visual Studio 2010 and create a new Project, ASP.NET Empty Web Project.
2. Add a new Web User Control (ascx file) to the project. Name it HelloTab.ascx
3. Add a literal control to the ascx page and in the code behind set the text property to ‘Hello world’.

* Note: I could have created an HTML page, but instead wanted to use an ASCX page to show where the DLL from the bin folder would end up. In real life I prefer to keep the client simple with HTML and jQuery and the heavy lifting in a Web Services layer powered by


<%@ Control Language="C#" AutoEventWireup="true" CodeBehind="HelloTab.ascx.cs" Inherits="HelloTab.HelloTab" %>
<asp:Literal ID="output" runat="server"></asp:Literal>
<div id="compUri"></div>


protected void Page_Load(object sender, EventArgs e)
    output.Text = "Hello world";

Compile and Build the Solution. The DLL will be copied to C:\Program Files (x86)\Tridion\web\WebUI\WebRoot\bin

Part 2: Create the JavaScript


RC.HelloTab = function RC$HelloTab$HelloTab(element) {
    Tridion.OO.enableInterface(this, "RC.HelloTab");
    this.addInterface("Tridion.Controls.DeckPage", [element]); //My extension is like this

RC.HelloTab.prototype.initialize = function HelloTab$initialize()
    this.callBase("Tridion.Controls.DeckPage", "initialize");
    $evt.addEventHandler($display.getItem(), "load", this.getDelegate(this.updateView));
}; = function HelloTab$select() {
    var c = $display.getItem();
    this.callBase("Tridion.Controls.DeckPage", "select");

RC.HelloTab.prototype.updateView = function HelloTab$updateView()
    if (this.isSelected())

Tridion.Controls.Deck.registerPageType(RC.HelloTab, "RC.HelloTab");

Order of Events:

  • constructor
  • select
  • initialize
  • updateView
  • selected

Part 3: GUI Extension Configuration and Setup IIS Copy files to server

Creating the config file HellotTab.config:

Create a new file called HelloTab.config. In this example the JavaScript, CSS, and ASPX files are all in the same folder, HelloTab. Here is the source:

<?xml version="1.0"?>
<Configuration xmlns=""

  <resources cache="true">
    <cfg:filters />
      <cfg:group name="RC.HelloTab" merge="always">
          <cfg:file type="script">/HelloTab.js</cfg:file>
          <cfg:file type="script">/jquery.js</cfg:file>
  <definitionfiles />
      <ext:editorextension target="CME">
        <ext:lists />
            <ext:extension assignid="HelloTab" name="Hi There!" insertbefore="InfoTab">
                <ext:view name="ComponentView">
                  <ext:control id="MasterTabControl"/>
  <contextmenus />
  <localization />
    <listdefinitions />
    <customconfiguration />

A few things to highlight:

Name the config group:

cfg:group name="RC.HelloTab"

Specify any js or css files needed by the extension:

  <cfg:file type="script">/HelloTab.js</cfg:file>

Define standard dependencies:


Define the ID, text for the tab, and location:

<ext:extension assignid="HelloTab" name="Hi There!" insertbefore="InfoTab">

The GUI ASCX control with HTML for the tab:


Define the Namespace and method for the JS file. I missed this the first time and my JS file would not load. Thanks to the StackOverflow post here for the help.


Specify the Edit view the Tab will appear on:

    <ext:view name="ComponentView">
      <ext:control id="MasterTabControl"/>

More about the Views option
Views – Which edit screen we load our GUI Extension
We can tell Tridion to only load our new Tab when we are editing a Component and not when editing a Template. To do this we’ll need to add a magic View name to the

The Tridion GUI Views are stored on the server at C:\Program Files (x86)\Tridion\web\WebUI\Editors\CME\Views.

The views folder contains some obvious ones like PageView and ComponentView. However, I am not sure about the DashboardView or CustomPageView – and hope that the Tridion Documentation team might come to our rescue here and weed out the ones that are not valid.

  • BluePrintViewerView
  • CategoryView
  • ComponentView
  • ComponentTemplateView
  • CustomPageView
  • DashboardView
  • FolderView
  • KeywordView
  • ListFiltersView
  • MultimediaTypeView
  • PageView
  • PageTemplateView
  • PopupsView
  • PublicationView
  • PublicationTargetView
  • SchemaView
  • SplashScreenView
  • StructureGroupView
  • TargetGroupView
  • TargetTypeView
  • TemplateBuildingBlockView
  • TridionDashboardView
  • UserAccountsView
  • VirtualFolderView
  • WorkflowProcessView

Save the config file. Create a JS file HelloTab.js for the interaction with the Tridion GUI and Anguilla API. Below is a basic example:

Setup Virtual Directory in IIS
– Add VDIR to IIS, point to HelloTab Editor folder
– The name of the VDIR should match the VDIR node in the system.config file.

Part 4: Copy files to Server and update System.config

Create folder and copy files
– Create a new Folder in the Editors folder called ‘HelloTab’. Full path is ‘C:\Program Files (x86)\Tridion\web\WebUI\Editors\HelloTab’
– Copy HelloTab.ascx, HelloTab.js, and HelloTab.config files
– Copy the DLL file from the build output to ‘C:\Program Files (x86)\Tridion\web\WebUI\WebRoot\bin’. This is the location where all the DLLs associated with a GUI Extension are deployed. If you register the DLLs in the GAC then you could place them in another location.

Add Extension to System.config:

<editor name="HelloTab">
  <installpath>C:\Program Files (x86)\Tridion\web\WebUI\Editors\HelloTab\</installpath>

The new Tab should appear in the ComponentEdit screen. Great! But, we still need to do something in the tab.  Let’s add some JavaScript and talk with the Anguilla API.

Part 5: Working with the JS Anguilla API

Anguilla is the powerful Tridion JavaScript framework that makes the magic in the Tridion 2011 GUI possible.  Unfortunately, it is not well known and not too many code samples are available yet.  Some hints of methods and objects can be found in the Tridion 2011 Views folder at C:\Program Files (x86)\Tridion\web\WebUI\Editors\CME\Views. The Tridion 2011 PowerTools also use the Anguilla framework and provide additional opportunities to gain hints. SDL Tridion World has the Anguilla documentation available for download in the Documentation downloads section. With all that said – most Tridion developers that I know have a background in server-side Web development and writing OO JavaScript is not in the comfort zone of many, including me.  We have the option to do the minimum in Anguilla and then run to the Core Service to do the heavy lifting – but I hope in the future we can use more of the built-in methods in Anguilla.

Trick for jQuery

Tridion PowerTools use jQuery and have a trick to load it so it does not conflict with Outbound Email. Clever! After adding this then we use $j for our jQuery magic.

var addJquery = function ()
    // ... jQuery here ...
    //YM: to avoid conflict with the Outbound Email extension, we define a new shorthand for jQuery
	window.$j = jQuery.noConflict(true);

Using jQuery in the JS code:


Displaying the URI in the Tab

var c = $display.getItem();

Fun with the Chrome Developer Console and Anguilla:

  1. Set a breakpoint on the line after the var c =
  2. Open the Chrome Debugger
  3. Scripts tab
  4. Component…aspx script
  5. Scroll to bottom of script and find your code. Alternative use the find feature of Chrome. You should see console.log(‘select’);
  6. Add a breakpoint by clicking on the line #
  7. Now refresh and it will stop on that line when you’ve seelcted the new tab. Don’t hit continue yet.
  8. Go to the Console tab, hit c. and amaze at the amount of methods we have available – via the Anguilla JavaScript Framework – at our disposal.

The Tridion Live Documentation contains a very quick guide to Tab GUI Extensions here. Don’t forget to login first before clicking the link.


This GUI Extension is a simple one and is intended to give you the ideas and some confidence with creating your first one. With the Component URI and the power of the Anguilla Framework you can already do some magic via JavaScript in the tab with this example. However, it is also possible to make a webservice call from the js and do more server-side api work there. I hope you were able to follow along and that this inspires you to create your own extensions. A big thanks to the Tridion community on StackOverflow – without you the article would not be possible.

Get the code

Tridion 2011 Favorites

May 10th, 2012 | Posted by Robert Curlette in Tridion - (1 Comments)

Tridion 2011 is full of small useful improvements. One of those is the addition of the ‘Favorites’ section next to Custom Pages in the tree menu. We can have shortcuts to Structure Groups, Folders, Pages, Components, and even Categories Keywords. This is very handy, especially for Demos and Tridion Webinars. Saves a lot of time!

Adding an Item to Tridion 2011 Favorites

Sending an item to Favorites is as easy as a right-click on any item.

Then the item is in the Favorites tree.

I use it for my Template Folders and common Structure Groups for publishing.

GUI Customizations with the Favorites

It is possible to use a Data Extender GUI Customization with a Favorites folder the same as we do for any list item in Tridion. Warner Soditus asked a question on SatckOverflow this week and with the help of Nuno (otherwise known as KnewKnow) and Puf we have another good solution for improving the Tridion experience.

Thanks a lot for adding another favorite feature to Tridion 2011!

Tridion 2011 provides too many benefits for the organization and development team to be overlooked any longer. I recently upgraded a system from Tridion 5.3 to Tridion 2011 and it was a lot less scary than I originally thought. Tridion has provided us a better installer and documentation than past versions and an amazing new product full of features. Having the right approach and knowing where to focus your efforts are a key to a successful upgrade. In this post I hope to share some of my experiences with the upgrade and provide some tips to help make it an easy one.

1. Read the install manual and upgrade manual.

No, really, please print it, sit in your favorite chair or lotus position, and read it – all. The Live Documentation site also has it online. Now, go back and circle or highlight things you need to double-check in your environment such as Java version installed on your Deployer or Broker, SQL Server SP version, and the version of Windows Server you are running on the CMS.

2. Upgrade the Database

Tridion provides a great DB tool for upgrading the database, located in the Installer/Database folder named ‘DatabaseManager.exe’.  My database was a 5.3 SP1 SQL Server 2005 DB and the upgrade ran perfectly and was done in around 15 minutes. This is a no risk step and in my experience always works.  Please backup your DB before you begin.

Upgrade both the CMS Database and the Broker Database.

The tool requires the SA account (or one with equivalent permissions) and the password of the TCMDBUser and other Tridion user accounts.

3. Upgrade the CMS

Very easy with the included installer.  The installer has been improved and adds more manual detail control over what is installed. Don’t check Audience Manager (Outbound Email) or Translation Manager (world Server / TMS) unless you are using them. Not nice to have unused Tridion pieces installed and not configured in your environment – and also not nice to configure something you’re not using. You can add them back later using the same installer files (not add/remove programs because this throws an error – just use the original installer file).

This is a next, next, next process and also very low risk. Great job by the installer team.

If you have SiteEdit code in your templates, first install and register SiteEdit extension DLL.   Then add the Extension to the Tridion MMC snap-in.

4. Test the CMS

Login to the CMS and you will see a new GUI Screen and a progress indicator. Be patient – the new Tridion GUI takes longer to load on the first time – but after it is about 20-30% faster on the same hardware. Sweet! 🙂

Things to test:

– Opening and saving Components. Do you use the Event System?  See below for tips on the Event System.

– Previewing. Do you use SiteEdit? You must re-register the SiteEdit DLL in the Tridion MMC SnapIn.

– Creating a new Component and new Page.

– Custom pages – The Tridion 2011 TOM API is fully supported and backwards compatible. These custom pages should just work. However, many of the original Powertools will not work because they re-used js from the old Tridion GUI. A new Powertools initiative has been started and a Page Publisher tool is already finished. Please join the fun and help us make the 2011 Powertools better.

– Publishing – not yet! Wait until the next step.

5. Installing the Broker and Deployer

There is not a nice installer here and it is a manual copy / paste action, especially if you’re using a Java based Content Delivery system. There are a lot of new 3rd party jar files and yes, you need them all.

– Add the SQL Server jar from Microsoft if using SQL Server. Please note there are different jar files for Java versions. Java 5 requires sqljdbc.jar and Java 6 requries sqljdbc4.jar. Tridion documentation for Content Delivery has more details.

– Create a cd_storage_conf file – The cd_broker_conf file is deprecated and replaced with a new cd_storage_conf. Grab the example one from the install folder, Tridion 2011 SP1\Content Delivery\resources\configurations, edit the connection string to the DB, and define the ItemTypes mapping.

– Update the logging config – Another new item here is the logback logger used. It has its own config file and has extensive documentation. This is one of many examples where Tridion took great, existing frameworks and put them under the new Tridion 2011 architecture – great job.

6. Test the Deployer

– Publish a Page with only a Page Template producing static HTML and no Component Presentations. This tests the basic ability to publish to the Filesystem. Try to view the published page from the website after. Works – yay! Doesn’t work – double check your deployer storage_config.

– Publish a Page with Component Presentations. This will add link data to the Broker and insert records in a DB or write new files on the filesystem, depending on your bindings in the config.

– Publish a dynamic Component Presentation to the Broker DB. This tests your Broker DB connection. If it does not work, go review the cd_storage_conf.

7. Test the Broker

The broker API is 100% improved and still is fully backwards compatible. All my 5.3 broker calls worked perfectly.  If you’ve written your own SQL against the broker db you should test it well.

– View one of your existing pages that queries the Broker. If you do not have any yet, you can see the Tridion Content Broker Query documentation or my JSP example for some inspiration.

– Configure cache channel support

– Load test all your pages using Broker Queries.  They’ve re-written the Broker and you want to confirm all performs as well as before.

Stop and congratulate yourself for performing a successful upgrade. However, we’re not yet finished since you’ve likely developed some custom code in custom pages, event system, or gui extensions that also needs to be reviewed and tested.

Now we know we can publish our site and our thousands of lines of templates work fine.

8. Custom Pages and GUI Customizations

If you wrote your own custom pages using the Tridion API there is a very good chance this works 100%.  For me I had around 20 custom pages and all worked perfectly.  For solutions you’ll want to update them to use the new Tridion 2011 dlls in the client folder.  Tridion TOM is 100% supported in the 2011 but has a deprecated status.  Our custom pages should work 100% unless the Tridion ASP or JS GUI files are required (most times not, except in cases like Powertools).

We’ve been warned not to change the existing Tridion GUI asp and js files and the warning was for times like this – when we upgrade and lose those very handy little icons in the GUI.  This is the tricky area where someone modified Tridion GUI js or asp files.  I would re-evaluate each customization and think if you really must have it, and if so if you could rewrite it using a Tridion 2011 GUI extension.

I have written a few articles to help you get started with 2011 GUI extensions.  Fear not – the Tridion R&D team has provided us a great new GUI Architecture that is more open and allows us to legally extend the GUI in many supported ways. 🙂 I have written a tutorial on creating your first GUI Extension and another about getting a quick start adapting the GUI Extension tutorial code for a new extension. The key here is expectations setting and planning. Do you really use all those extensions every day? Can the editors live without some of them while they’re being re-written in the new framework? Can you write an ASP custom page now in your old version (or also 2011) that does the same thing until the new shiny extension is ready?

9. Event System

Open the Cms config mmc, events section, what has a 1 is turned on.  For each of these it is a good idea to test it.  There can be complex logic, so take your time with this step.  Also you will need to configure the Cms to use your legacy event system.  Tridion re-wrote the event system for 2011 and I have a small article here about getting started.  But you can also keep running your old code.

– Tridion 2011 supports the old Event System and also provides a completely new framework for building a new one. The new Event System is really nice and the Tridion 2011 Delta Training is a good place to start learning more about it.

– Read about the old Event System support here.

– Use the Legacy Events Adapter for your old Event System. It is highly recommended to re-write the old Events to the Tridion 2011 Event System, but it is not mandatory before using Tridion 2011. This is something to be planned with the development team.

– You can also write a small script that resaves all components to trigger the oncomponentsave event, or to trigger other events.  This is a good idea in general as a way to test Event System functionality.

10. Templates

– All VBScript templates are 100% supported.

– SiteEdit?  I use SiteEdit and needed to register the SiteEdit dll using RegAsm (for SiteEdit 1.3) and also add it to the MMC snapin.

– Upgrade your templates to use the new Razor Mediator. It is very fast to write templates with Razor syntax, it is similar to VBScript but a lot more powerful, and much easier to learn than the DWT mediator or the XSLT mediator.  This assumes you know how to create a Compound Component Template.

Get the Razor Mediator

VBScript to Razor Guide

Razor introduction article


Upgrading the Tridion system is much easier with the new Tridion 2011 tools and support. The community is more active than ever and there are many nice Tridion 2011 extensions available from Tridion World.  In my experience the upgrade was a lot easier than previous upgrades – a real surprise when I think they replaced or upgraded a lot of the technologies under the platform.  Congrats to the installer and R & D teams!  We also have great new frameworks available in the new version, such as .NET 4.0, Solr, Logback, WCF, etc. With a sensible plan and step by step testing of various components we can perform the upgrade with ease and confidence. I hope this article gives you some hope that the upgrade is within reach and with some careful planning can be achieved with little risk.

The Tridion Razor Mediator brings all the goodness of the Razor template engine to Tridion.  The Razor mediator uses the official Microsoft Razor Engine and is dependent on .Net 4.0 or higher.  This is good news for us – any improvements in the script engine by Microsoft will be available to us.  Even better, the Razor Mediator is open source; we can see all the code and also update a dependency and recompile if we choose.

The Razor Mediator wraps the Tridion API and provides a more fluent interface to accessing items such as Components and Pages.  Not only that, but many helper functions are also included such as IsFirst, a method to get ComponentPresentations by template name, and super-easy access to Component Link fields and Embedded Fields.  You do not need to know C# or .NET to use it, but if you do then you can use existing .NET methods directly in the templates.  There are many other cool features that I will discuss here in the post.

What is a Mediator

The Tridion Mediator Framework enables developers to create alternative template engines for the Tridion CMS. In Tridion versions 4 and until version 5.2 there was no Mediator framework and we only had Tridion’s built-in “mediator” available and wrote templates in VBScript, JScript, or XSLT. Starting with version 5.3 with the introduction of Compound Templating any developer could create their own template engine, or Mediator, and use this instead of the built-in languages. The first Mediator was an XSLT mediator (for Compound Templating) created by Chris Summers and Yoav Niran. This is still a popular mediator today. However, the new Razor Mediator from Alex Klock promises to provide as much power as XSLT with a lot less sweating involved. 🙂

The Razor Mediator is built on top of the Razor syntax engine from Microsoft, released with ASP.NET MVC, and requries .NET 4.0 and Tridion 2011. If you have done any ASP.NET MVC development then you are familiar with the syntax. The Razor Mediator is not the first external template engine using Microsoft’s Razor engineUmbraco version 5 uses the Razor engine as its’ default template language, replacing the XSLT standard, and has been well received by the community, even by the XSLT die hards.

So, with all that said what are we waiting for?  Let’s dive in and start writing some Razor code.

10 Benefits of Razor Templating:

  • Lots of existing Razor code samples on the web
  • Great Razor Mediator documentation
  • Built on top of the official Microsoft Razor syntax engine. No custom coding or regex matches here! It’s all official! The Mediator is mostly a wrapper around Tridion’s object model with a few helper functions built-in.  Full .NET Framework available in Templates, including functions for Date/Time parsing.
  • Built-in helper functions for iterating over Component Presentations by Template Name (new in 1.2)
  • Smart rendering functionalities like auto-detecting RTF fields and calling ResolveXHTML for us.
  • Easy to access Component Link fields and Embedded Fields – no more looking up the Embedded Field syntax in the reference guide!
  • Logging to the Template Builder ouput window with @Debug(“”)
  • Best template import system of any mediator – can import standard libraries from the config file and not need to include them in each template.  Inline imports allow us to import any type of code – from HTML to CSS, JS, and Razor snippets (imports added in 1.2)
  • Clean syntax calls and requires less code than other mediators.  Less code = less typing = less bugs = happier.
  • Includes its’ own installer – a first for any Tridion Mediator

Getting started with the Tridion Razor Mediator

Getting started is easier than any other Mediator because it comes with its’ own Installer!

1. Download the latest Razor Mediator Installer here (
2. Copy installer to the CMS Server
3. Run installer
4. Shut down COM+, restart Publisher

What does the installer do?
– Creates a new Template Building Block Type, Razor Mediator
– Updates the Tridion System.config file at /Tridion/config. If you want to modify the config and add your own default TBB includes this is the place to do it.

Try the new Razor Mediator

– In Tridion, create a new TBB, select Razor as the template language.  If you do not see it here, you may need to re-start your CMS.
– Type some Razor code, save. (ie. <h1>@Component.Title</h1>). Save in a new folder called Razor templates.  VBScript to Razor code samples
– Open Template Builder, create a new Compound Template, type Component Template.
– See if the Folder ‘Razor templates’ is there in the template list of the left. If not, then refresh the template list.
– Add your new Razor template, preview, and witness the magic.

Good news! We’re all ready to begin our small exercise to create a Detail Page using the Razor mediator. I want to highlight the new features from version 1.2, including the GetComponentPresentationsByTemplate, the TBB imports functionality and the IsFirst and IsLast methods.

Microsoft Razor syntax reference:

Tridion Razor examples:
Razor helpers and functions
Razor 1.2 new features

I’ll show a few examples of the power and simplicity of the Razor engine highlighting new features from the 1.2 version. I will not cover Tridion dynamic links or navigation since it requires too much logic / detail for this overview.

The Example – A story of on Index page and a Detail page

We will create an Index Page and a Detail page using the Twitter Bootstrap style and HTML.  Our Index page will show 1 Large text banner and a max of 4 intro articles.  Our Detail page will show the article with the Detail Template and also a max of 4 articles in the right-side rail / sidebar.

Detail Page

The detail page will contain 1 news article and a list of related articles in the right sidebar. First we’re going to need HTML before we start coding the template. This is a pre-requisite for any Tridion template and most of the time the template developer is not a front-end HTML developer, and in my case this is also true. Thanks to the Twitter Bootstrap project we have the HTML and CSS done for us – we simply need to fill in some content.

Schema Article Fields:

Links (embedded schema)
Link Title
Link URL External
Link URL Component Link

Source:  Embedded Link Schema
Source:  Detail Schema

Page Template Detail

The Page Template’s primary goal is to write out all the Component Presentations in the right location. It will also include all necessary js and css files, as well as specify a header and meta tags for our page. Page Templates do not write out Component fields. In this example I will only focus on writing out the Component Presentations. Find the location of the Article Component HTML and cut it out – replace with a comment “Article CT Here”. We will do the same for the Sidebar. This leaves us a nice Page Template beginning that we’ll come back to later. Leave the other hard-coded stuff in the HTML file. Later we will replace all content in the HTML page with a Component Presentation or a key/value string. We should never have any hard-coded content in any template – if we do then we have to change the template to update content – something we never want to do.

Tridion Page Template Shell


Component Template Detail

The Detail Component Template displays almost all the fields from the Detail page. Notice how we effortlessly display the embedded fields.

Component Template Sidebar

The sidebar template has a special requirement that we need to add a special css class to the first element in the list. For this we’ll use the IsFirst helper method in the Razor Mediator. Other Mediator’s do not have this out of the box.

Index Page

Displays the Article with the ct_banner_text template and up to 4 ct_home_intro Components on the bottom of the screen.

Index Page Templates

Page Template Index

Write the Component Template Code

– Create new Razor TBBs
– Create new TBB. In source tab, first choose the TemplateType of ‘RazorTemplate’. If you forget to do this you will not see it appear in Template Builder since we cannot use VBScritp templates in Compound Templates (default is VBScript in this window).
– Write code in text editor (Notepad++ or VS 2010), copy / paste into the window. Save and close.
– Create new Compound Template in Template Builder, type Component Template. Select the View menu and choose ‘Reload Template Building Blocks. You should now see your new TBB.
– Add TBB. Test with Article.
– Choose File, ‘Close and Open in Content Manager’
– In the ‘Linked Schemas’ tab, Add the appropriate Linked Schema(s). Save and close.
– Save and close. Ready for use on PT now. Copy Component Template name to Page Template ‘GetComponentPresentationsByTemplate’ method.



Banner Text Template Source

Razor Imports

I have a common <head> section for both templates and would like to re-use the HTML. For this I will use the new Razor Mediator @importRazor(“tbb webdav url”) method.

Configuring the Razor Imports
To use this I need to open the System.config file (from Tridion/config) and in the <razor.mediator node I should add the adminUser attribute:


The User account running te COM+ service is usually MTSUser. Make sure this user is an impersonation user in the Tridion MMC snap-in. In my case it was not and I needed to add it. After adding it I shutdown COM+ and it was working fine.

Now it looks like:

<razor.mediator cacheTime=”60″ extractBinaries=”true” adminUser=”Dev2011\curlette”>

Accessing other properties

From Alex, “Every *Model component has a property, .TridionObject, that returns the actual Tridion object (so ComponentModel will return a Component).”
To access the Revisor of a Component we can use:

Better Error Messages

On save it tries to compile your template against the Razor engine. Syntax errors are caught here. Warning- unfortunately the line # does not correspond to the real line #.
When running in Template Builder, any invalid field names are reported as:
“DynamicItemFields: Key ‘subheader’ Not Found In ItemFields”

Much better than the old error “Object or method not found”


If you are using Tridion 2011 then please give the Razor Mediator a try.  With as little as 1 hour you can run the installer, wrie a sample CT, and experience the simplicity and power of the Mediator.  As you can see the Razor Mediator makes it very easy to write Tridion templates while at the same time using the standard Razor syntax of Microsoft. We handled embedded fields and IsFirst conditions with ease and it is this kind of approach that makes templates faster to write and easier to maintain in the future. We only covered some of the possibilities with the Mediator and did not go into using existing .NET classes in our templates. A big thanks to Alex Klock for creating the Razor Mediator and continuing to add new features to it. I look forward to what is coming next in version 1.3!