Announcing the Tridion Practice project
There's much talk in some circles about the "Tridion community" and how we can promote community contributions and collaboration. I've been thinking about this, and I see a "gap in the market". Tridion's own building blocks exchange is great, and there are some outstanding community contributions on there. It's a showcase for people's coding talents and much more, but when it comes to making use of the building blocks, the most obvious way to do so is to download and install a given building block. Somehow the focus is not on showing people how they can raise their game at a coding level. The code is available, but it seems the focus is not on the code.
Other people have mentioned the need for a "cookbook" with examples and samples, but perhaps with the idea that this is something Tridion should produce. Of course, the documentation team at Tridion are putting huge efforts in to expanding the product documentation, and there are many examples to be seen there. That's not what I'm on about either.
You don't read product documentation to become inspired. (My humble apologies to the documentation team for my boorish bluntness.) But really - you don't. That's not what it's for. Then of course, there's other coders' blogs. Some of the Tridion bloggers are great, and you do sometimes get the sense of "Hey guys! This is cooool!! Did you know you could do this!!!! ???". That's something we need more of.
So you're probably ahead of me here, but the "gap" I talked of - what's missing - is a community collaboration cookbook. I'm announcing today that I have begun that project, and that anyone who wishes to help is welcome to join me. I believe that by collaborating, we can produce an on-line resource that combines real inspiration with sheer grinding competence. I've chosen to host it on "neutral" territory, at . I've also selected a (https://code.google.com/p/tridion-practice/)liberal open source license (MIT) for the project, because I don't want anyone to have a moment's doubt as to whether it's OK to copy and paste the code straight in to their own work.
I've begun the cookbook with a single recipe: a template building block that factors some of the work out of building page templates. I hope this inspires you (OK - I'm smiling as I write this!) but if it doesn't please don't let that put you off. Maybe it's just not your thing, or you have a completely different approach to the same problem that works fine for you. In that case, maybe one of the other recipies will float your boat (assuming that more recipies will come).
Alternatively, you may look at it and think: "Gee, that would be great, except that such a thing irritates me, or I don't see why that part of the explanation is like that, or sheesh that code is ugly, or why aren't there any comments", or whatever. I know you're definitely ahead of me this time, but I'm going to say it anyway; this is where you come in. Community collaboration doesn't have to be about spending all your free evenings for a week producing a whole recipe yourself. You can help to improve it simply by sending in a couple of review comments, or whatever contribution suits you. Part of the reason for hosting it on neutral territory is to reinforce the idea that criticism is welcome.
Then again, you may not wish to contribute directly. That's also fine. Please make use of whatever you find on the Tridion Practice project. Enjoy! Be inspired! :-)