Friday, December 29, 2017

What's New in SDL WorldServer 11

Local Language Content is growing in demand day by day and it is one of the primary focus areas of Marketers today. Various surveys show, how the local language content helped companies to get more customers and contributed to the growth of the business eventually. One shouldn’t be surprised why Translation Management System is a really important tool of CXM strategy of an Enterprise today.

SDL WorldServer:

SDL WorldServer is the leading translation management system in the industry. Over one hundred of the top global companies depend on SDL WorldServer to optimize their translation programs.

WorldServer is an advanced tool that enables you to transform manual, disparate translation processes into a centralized, fully administered program. With WorldServer, you can adopt a flexible enterprise-class translation management system that automates translation tasks and greatly reduces the costs of supporting large volumes of local language content.

Core to SDL WorldServer is a workflow based process automation engine that drives all translation project activities. You can easily configure the workflow so that, for example, the process for translating marketing material is different from that for translating very technical documentation.

New features & benefits in Version 11:

Recently in November 2017, the latest version 11.3 of the SDL WorldServer is released. Other than supporting technology upgrades, below are the key new features introduced in the version 11, adding value over V10.4: 

UI enhancements:

The new version has significant rewrite of the User Interface layer to provide modern & efficient User Experience for all users.

Below are the main features of the new UI:
  • New UI paradigm aligned with SDL’s Convergence strategy.
  • Initial Focus on Project Management UX and Efficiency.
  • Platform for delivering usability improvements.
  • Modern, supportable UI components.
  • New REST-based API is used under the hood.

Performance & Scalability:

1. System Improvements for Scalability & Agility:
  • Database Transactions optimizations to eliminate deadlocks and enhance efficiency and scalability. The version Supports SQL Server 2016 as well.
  • Monitoring & Troubleshooting by the new diagnostic tools to identify and address deadlocking database transactions.
  • Automated Task Handling by sequencing and distributing automated tasks to prevent time consuming tasks from slowing down the system as a whole.
  • Translatable Content Handling is improved by:
             o Updated file filters for MS Office file types.
             o New server-friendly file types for RTF and Excel

2. Cloud Improvements:
  • Value add Security packages like encryption, IDS/IPS, compliance, vulnerability scanning, etc.
  • Next Generation Database Platform with increased availability, scalability, manageability and security.
  • Further automation of deployment/upgrades and other maintenance tasks.
  • Modernization of Cloud Delivery Platforms including new hosting providers, new data centres, more modern services and infrastructure.

SDL Language Cloud integration:

Starting with this release, machine translation in WorldServer can also be performed by SDL Language Cloud, via the new Language Cloud machine translation (MT) adapter. Once the adapter is configured, the translation can be done automatically in Worldserver using SDL Language cloud.
The process of setting the adapter is quite straight forward as demonstrated here.

Applet replacement:

Because browsers are reducing or eliminating support for the Java Plug-in, it is wise to consider migrating existing Java applets to something like Java Web Start, which uses the Java Network Launching Protocol (JNLP) to download and run an application locally.

From the release 11.1, SDL have started the procedure of migrating the WorldServer features that use Java applets to JNLP. As a result, user can now access the Explorer page from all supported browsers. User can modify the use of Java applet or JNLP by configuring the parameter applet.display.option=<available values are applet, jnlp, and browser>, in SDL recommend using the browser option, which will make the browser choose whether the Java applet or JNLP is used to open the Explorer page.

Next Gen Online Editor:

Online editor is one of the most important feature introduced in the V11. It is an Add-On Components to the GUI and can be configured to be used in workflows by Translators and/or Reviewers.
With this, Translators and Reviewers can perform many tasks including translation & review from anywhere online in browser without having to install Studio. Though Trados Studio and WS Browser Workbench remain alternate options.


A rich REST API is available now to interact with the WorldServer. The SDL WorldServer 11 API is based on modern standards (REST & JSON) and has been designed to be:
  • Highly secure: the entire WorldServer 11 UI is built on top of the new, radically improved API.
  • Standardized and easy to use: it uses the standard HTTP Verbs (POST/PUT/GET/DELETE).
  • More easily integrated.
  • Highly functional, with:
          o Batching — do more with less
          o Filtering & Search — find the right data
          o Partial record retrieval — retrieve only the fields you need, avoiding over-verbosity.

The API Documentation can be found on the server by visiting <root_server>/<ws-api>/docs/ws-api-doc-v1.html (for example, http://<server_name>:<port_number>/<ws-api>/docs/ws-api-doc-v1.html).

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Alchemy | What do you want to extend ?

In one of my previous blogs, I talked about the Five Basic Things you should know before developing a Alchemy Plugin. One of the most important thing listed there is, "What do you want to extend?" in Tridion GUI. The answer to this question would lead you to the Classes in Alchemy Framework,
you would have to extend in the plugin code. You can term them as Extension Points as well.

Tridion provides some extension points/areas out of the box. In Alchemy Framework you would get all those extension points as Base Classes, you simply need to extend those classes according to your plugin need. Let's talk about the Extension Points one by one.

1. Context Menu Extension:

A Context Menu appears once a user right clicks on a Item in Tridion GUI. So if you want to add an entry in the Context Menu, you would have to extend "ContextMenuExtension" class in your plugin code.
Title Translator plugin is a really good example of Context Menu Extension, The code for the plugin can be found here.

2. Command Extension:

Tridion's Anguilla Framework exposes many commands like Open, Save, Localize etc. Which are executed on respective events in the GUI. If you want to override the behavior of a command, all you need is to extend "CommandExtension" class in your plugin's code.
For example, if you want to perform some action when user saves an item, you would need to create a Alchemy Plugin by extending the class "CommandExtension".

We have a Plugin named Localize Commenter which extends this extension point, where a custom popup appears when a "Localize" command is executed.  The code for the plugin could be found here for reference.

3. Extended Area Extension:

Extended Area Extension
If your requirement is to extend a existing view, you might want to have a look at the extended areas extensibility. For example, if someone wants to add a additional check in fields details in schema design, you might need to create a plugin extending "ExtendedAreaExtension" class. I don't have any real plugin for reference, so attaching the image to give you an idea.

4. Extension Group:

So, if you don't find a suitable extension point for your plugin idea or requirement. The Extension Group extension could be your best bet. Basically this extension allows you to add your custom resources (JS, CSS, Images etc) to the different views in the GUI. These resources can then interact with the HTML and Tridion UI Core (using Anguilla framework) to produce desired results.

One good example of this type of plugin is Publication Panel Search. It places a search box above the Publication List in the left-hand panel. Users can simply start typing into the text box and Publications with the title containing the entered text will be filtered. The full code for the plugin can be referenced from here.

5. Ribbon Toolbar Extension:

As it's name suggests, this extension point is to extend the Ribbon Toolbar at the top. With this one can add buttons and manage groups in the toolbar. To achieve this all you need to extend the "RibbonToolbarExtension" class and use it's members accordingly, while coding the plugin.

There are many plugins of this type available on the Alchemy Web Store, one easy pick could be Go To Location. This plugin adds a Ribbon Tool Bar Button 'Go To Location' to the Repository Local Item views, on clicking the button user is redirected to the location of the item. The code for this plugin can be found here.

6. Tab Page Extension:

If a Tridion item is opened in explorer, there would be tabs like General, Source, Info etc. To add a custom tab to the view, in the plugin's code one has to extend the class "TabPageExtension" and use it's members accordingly.

There is again this plugin Localize Commenter which extends this extension point. The plugin adds a tab "Localize Comments" in the item's view, where localize comments can be viewed and edited. The code for the plugin can be found here for reference.

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Localize Commenter | Yet Another Alchemy Plugin

Localization of content is one of the most important feature of a Content Management System. Over the years CMS vendors put a lot of emphasis on making content localization easy and user friendly. If we talk about SDL Tridion, its simply a click and user can localize an item and update it with local content. It is really easy and user friendly, But there is no way one can record the "Reason" to localize the item. So with the passing time no body remembers why the item was localized?

To address this issue, This plugin named "Localize Commenter" is developed. This available on Alchemy Web Store and can be downloaded from here.

The Plugin forces user to add Comments while localizing an Item in Tridion GUI. These Comments could be be viewed and Edited in a Tab inside Item View. Technically, The plugin stores the Comments inside App Data of the Item and doesn't maintain the history of the comments, so once comments are updated the last comments will be deleted forever.

The code for the plugin is available on Github. So if you look at the code, the plugin consists of three extension points as below:

1. Command Extension:

The first requirement was "when user clicks "Localize" from the context menu of an item, the plugin would open a dialog to enter the localize comments" as below:

To achieve this, a Command Extension is implemented which simply extends the Localize command using Anguilla Framework (Code reference "LocalizeCommenterCommandExtension.cs"). This extension simply open a popup "LocalizeCommenterPopUp.aspx" , and cancels the original Localize command.

"LocalizeCommenterPopUp.aspx" page is simple .aspx page, which has a text area, localize button and a cancel button. After entering the comments in the text area when user hit the localize button,  item gets localized and comments gets saved to application data of the item.

2. Extension Group:

The second requirement was "when a user opens a shared item by choosing the option 'Localize this item and open it in edit mode',  the plugin would open a popup to enter the comments" as below:

For this, a "ExtensionGroup" extension is implemented which simply extends this "Choose an Option" popup by extending "Tridion.Web.UI.Editors.CME.Views.Popups.SharedItemOptions" resource using Anguilla Framework (Code Reference "SharedItemOptionsPopUpExtension.cs"). This simply overrides the "_onOkButtonClicked" event of "Choose an Option" popup and open another popup "LocalizeCommenterPopUp.aspx" to enter the comments, when the "OK" button is clicked.

3. Tab Page Extension:

The third requirement was "Once the item is localized after adding the comments, There should be a way to check and update the saved comments". The plugin shows the saved comments in a "Localize Comments" tab when the item is opened.

To achieve this, a "TabPageExtenstion" extension is implemented (Code Reference "LocalizeCommenterTabPage.cs"). The extension creates a tab named "Localize Comments" in item's view and shows a user control "LocalizeCommenterTab.ascx" inside this. Inside the control, functionality to view/update the comments is implemented. 

Please check the code for more details, This plugin is pretty good example of having multiple extensions in a single plugin. If you have any questions, please ask on the post.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Forcing Workflow on Templates (Design Items) in Tridion

The main purpose of  Tridion Workflow is to audit content before it is published to a particular environment, but it is also important to audit the design changes before making those available for a end user on a particular environment. Without proper auditing wrong version of the layouts (and possibly JS functionality) could make all the way to Live application and can have all sorts of user experience issues.

Importance of Workflow Enforcement on Tridion Items:


When a tridion item is updated outside of the workflow or a new item created, item was set to approval status 'undefined'. With this 'undefined' approval status there was no restriction on publishing those items at all, means the item (content/template) which was yet to be approved by workflow process could be published.

To make sure any unaudited item (content/template) doesn't get published. Tridion provides OOB functionality to Enforce Workflow on Components and Templates.

In one of my previous blogs, I explained how to force workflow on Components. Here I am going to explain how you can force workflow on Templates (TBBs, CTs and PTs).

Forcing Workflow on Templates:

1. Enable workflow on the publication:
Before forcing workflow on the items, you should always enable the workflow on that particular publication otherwise new and updated items would be waiting forever for a workflow to be enforced, as user would not be able to trigger a workflow process on the templates.

To do so, open publication properties and inside workflow tab check the checkbox "Enable Workflow Process Associations in Shared Schemas and Structure Groups" and save the publication properties.

2. Force the workflow on design items:
To force workflow, open publication properties and inside workflow tab check the checkbox "Any changes made to a Template in this Publication require approval by a Bundle Workflow Process" and save the publication properties.

Once the workflow enforcement on templates is set on the publication, Now if you updates/creates template (or TBB) outside of workflow, Instead of being checked-in and available for use, a minor version of the template will be created in "Waiting for Workflow" state. To use this version, you must add it to a bundle and start the workflow on it. Once the workflow is finished, the minor version is converted to a major version and is ready for use.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Five Basic Things you should know before developing a Alchemy Plugin

Alchemy for Tridion is getting popularity by every day passing. More and more plugins are being submitted to Alchemy Web Store. I have developed few and it's really a fun. So if you want to give it a try go ahead, all you need to do is:

1. Install the Alchemy on your DEV CMS Machine.

2. Get the Alchemy development framework to visual studio using Nuget Package or VS Pack.

Now when you are all set to develop a Alchemy Plugin from your idea. Ask the below questions to yourself and note the answers:
  1. What does it do?
  2. What do you want to extend?
  3. Where to show your extension?
  4. When to show your extension?
  5. What resources you need to have in your extension?

What does it do?

The answer to this question will help you with
1. You can copy and paste the answer to the description element value of the "a4t.xml" file in your visual studio solution.
2. This will help you identify the possible conflicts with existing OOB GUI/Functionality. Which is quite important consideration before developing a plugin.

What do you want to extend?

So Tridion provides some extension points/areas OOB. In Alchemy Framework you would have all those extension points as Base Classes as below: 

  • CommandExtension
  • ContextMenuExtension
  • ExtendedAreaExtension
  • ExtensionGroup
  • RibbonToolbarExtension
  • TabPageExtension

You have to answer which extension point(or points), you want to extend. And based on this answer, you would create your Extension class by extending one of the above listed classes.

Where to show your extension?
So other than command extension, you need to tell Alchemy where you want to show the extension. This is really a important question as you need to make sure your extension doesn't break the existing GUI and not in conflict with another Plugin/Extension.

When to show your extension?
So there could be conditions when to show (or execute in case of command extension) the Extension. For example, a particular Extension could be available for any particular User Group. So if you have any condition like it, you would have to take care of this during the development. There are different ways to control it for different type of Extensions.

What resources you need to have in your extension?
You could have additional resources to support your extension like JS, CSS, ASPX ans ASCX files. You need to identify the resources and the place to put those. Alchemy Framework has a very specific structured way to organize those files.

I will cover all above points in detail in my coming blogs. I hope this high level information helps.    

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Workflow, Core Service and Tridion Crashing Blues

The Tridion Workflow is basically used to audit the content before publishing out to specific environment. It is really a good module of Tridion CMS, little bit underestimated in my opinion though.

Recently, I come across a issue where Tridion was going unresponsive, when we had some 30+ workflow process ruining simultaneously. It took us some good time to figure out the root cause of the issue. My intention of writing this blog to save your investigation time in case you face the same issue.

The issue:
The Tridion gets unresponsive when there is load on the CMS server in the form of Workflow Processes.

The Root Cause:
While setting a Tridion CMS, one has to configure the Maximum Concurrent Core Service Instances allowed before Core Service Host gets throttled. If the number of Core Service Instances goes beyond that limit, the Core Service Host Service gets throttled and become unresponsive. In our case Workflow Processes were creating those Core Service Instances.

In our configuration settings, we had the value set at the default minimum value (which was 100); not the recommended value (100 x {No. of Cores}). So this minimum value 100 was getting crossed easily by the Core service Instances when the load was high and so Tridion was getting unresponsive.

These configuration settings are listed below and can be found in the files as under:

<serviceThrottling maxConcurrentSessions="100" maxConcurrentCalls="16" />

*The default value for the Maximum Concurrent Instances is { maxConcurrentSessions + maxConcurrentCalls}

1. {TridionDir}\webservices\web.config
2. {TridionDir}\bin\TcmServiceHost.exe.config

As per recommendation the default values should multiplied by no. of cores on the server.

Workflow Connection to the Issue:
When an auto External Activity in a workflow process starts, it automatically gets an instance of a “Ready Made” Core Service Client and it does not closed/disposed once the activity is finished (Proved) rather it is cleaned/closed when garbage collection happens later by the system (Yet to confirm with SDL). The more Workflow Processes result in more auto External Activities and so more concurrent Core Service Clients. Once the max allowed limit for Core Service instances is crossed, the CMS goes throttled and become unresponsive.

The Fix:
We had to increase the maximum allowed limit for load in configuration files on CMS. To do so, we increased the throttling attributes for Core Service to allow more concurrent Core Service instances as below (The configuration could be found in the files listed above already):

<serviceThrottling maxConcurrentSessions="100*{No. of Cores}" maxConcurrentCalls="16*{No. of Cores}" />

*Where {No. of Cores} is the number of cores available on the CMS Server.

I hope, this helps someone someday :)

Friday, June 2, 2017

Go To Location | Alchemy Plugin for SDL Web

At SDL Web Dev Summit 2017 in India, I got this opportunity to show & tell on "how to create a Alchemy Plugin in 30 mins". And I choose to build this simple "GoToLocation" Alchemy Plugin there.

This plugin adds a Ribbon Tool Bar Button 'Go To Location' to the Repository Local Items Views including Page, Component, Schema, Component Templates, Page Templates and Template Building Blocks. On clicking the button SDL Web redirects the user to the location of the item.

This plugin is useful in the situations when a user wants to navigate to the Item's location form the Item's View.

In case you missed the event, lets revisit the plugin again. So before we begin, get the plugin's code from here so that we both are on the same page.

Facts about the plugin:
  1. It is a Ribbon Toolbar Extension, which places a "Go To Location" button in the ribbon.
  2. It will be applicable to following views:
    • Component
    • Page
    • Schema
    • Page Templates
    • Component Templates
    • Template Building Blocks
  3. On clicking the button, a Command fires to take the control to the item's location.
  4. It needs to have following resources (Resource Group) available in Tridion
    • Image - to be applied on the button
    • CSS File - to define styling on the extension button
    • Command JS File - to define the command to be fired on button click

Lets visit the code against the above points:
  1. Open the file "Config\GoToLocationExtension.cs". you would notice that the class is extended with the base class "RibbonToolbarExtension". Doing this you instruct Alchemy Framework that your extension is a Ribbon Toolbar Extension.
  2. In the same file you would see the lines like Apply.ToView(Constants.Views.{ViewName}). The code is to apply the extension on different views.
  3. We always define the Tridion Commands in JS files and place it inside a fixed folder structure "Static/Commands". You can see we have "GotoLocationCommands.js" in there to define our command. In execute method of the command, we simply get the "GoTo" command defined in Anguilla Framework and execute it on selected item.
  4. Resources are generally supportive files needed in Tridion for your extension. These files are organized in a fixed structure in the project inside the "Static" folder.
    • Image: To apply an image, we need to add the image in the project inside the folder "Static/Images" so that it is available to use.
    • CSS File: This file contains all the styling we need to add to our extension and sits in "Static/Styles" folder. In this case we just want a background image for the ribbon bar button as styling. If you notice in the css file, we are applying the image on a element with the id "RibbonToolbarGoToLocationButton". The id is nothing but the Assign Id of the extension (defined in "GoToLocationExtension.cs" file), which ends up as a HTML element id for the extension. 
    • Command JS File:  The file is located at "Static/Commands" and contains the command as we mentioned in point 3.
Now when we created different pieces we need for the functioning of our extension, We need to instruct Alchemy Framework; what is what and how these are inter connected?
  1. Alchemy Framework needs to know about the commands your extension have and to define it, we create a class derived from "CommandSet" base class. The class "GoToLocationExtension.cs" could be spotted under "Config" folder, having the command added (defined in the Command JS File, the name must match)
  2. We must tell Alchemy, which resources are going to use for the extension and to define it, we create another class derived from "ResourceGroup" base class. This class adds all the Resource Files, Command Sets and other dependencies needed for the extension. The class can be found at "Config/GoToLocationResouceGroup.cs".
  3. Lastly tell Alchemy that the extension is dependent on the Resource Group we just created. To do so, add the line Dependencies.Add<GoToLocationResouceGroup>() to the extension class "Config\GoToLocationExtension.cs".
And that's it. All other properties in the code files are quite self explanatory. 
Now build the project, you get your .A4T alchemy file for the extension. yay!