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Showing blog entries tagged as: SDL Tridion Docs

What's in store for Tridion in 2021

It's now almost a tradition for me to round off the old year by speculating about what the new year will bring for Tridion specialists. As we entered 2019 I was enjoying the return of the Tridion name that had come with the release of Sites 9 in 2018. The GraphQL endpoint was the hottest new news, and we were waving goodbye to the last of vbScript.

The predictions weren't very different as we came into 2020. The basic shape of modern Tridion architectures was starting to look a bit more fully formed. We'd be using DXA, and cloud technologies were much more front and centre. I spent a large part of 2020 rewriting an application to support this kind of architecture, and knee deep in everything from Jenkins to OpenShift, the SDL cloud, and of course, DXA. I was working with DXA 2.2 for the new application, while other applications that were already cloudified were running DXA 2.1, so we had plenty of back and forth with support and R&D to make sure everything could co-exist on the same infra. It sometimes seems like the only way you can upgrade is if R&D manages to make all upgrades "anything first". That's a pretty tall order, but they managed to find us a route through the maze. So onwards and upwards.

The programming work for this was all done in Java, so I had to get beyond just dabbling in Spring MVC, and get some real solid coding done. So - for me at least, one of my New Year's resolutions will be to stop pretending I'm not a Java programmer. The other prediction that comes out of this is that pretty soon, most Tridion systems will look like this, and there'll be less legacy work. When Sites 9 was released in 2018, we had the first version that really, really, really wouldn't run vbScript. If you still have legacy stuff running, 2021 will be the year when you really have to "get to done", because there won't be any supported version of Tridion that can run it.

My next prediction is about the SDL cloud. In 2021, this will become a much more established approach. They'll continue to push this in the sales process as the normal way to run Tridion, and particularly for greenfield systems, that's what people will do. There are a couple of things that will drive this. Firstly, the cloud offering will mature further, and more of the day-to-day activities will become self-service. It's in everyone's interest if support tickets are only needed for "interesting things".

I'm also predicting the return of customisation. With Sites 9.5 we now have the add-ons feature - which makes it much more practical to do customisations and deploy them to highly managed environments within the scope of "sprint work". (This is the second of the things that will push us to the cloud.) For this kind of thing, it's a case of the less friction the better. If you're going to have to jump through a row of administrative hoops for every environment, your simple events system (for example) will quickly acquire enough story points that some other feature will get prioritised. If you can automate the deployment in your devops street, well of course, first you'll have to invest in being able to, but then all sorts of improvements will again become much more attractive to do. This might not sound like much, but even small enhancements can do wonders for the way people engage with Tridion. If the content team know that they can have things fixed to be more suitable for their specific way of working, they'll be much happier.

In 2021, more Tridion customers will be actively engaged with a combination of both Sites and Docs. It's there in the product, and SDL's clear direction is towards a much more integrated future. I don't think there's ever been a customer that used every single Tridion feature, and I don't suppose that's going to be any different with the Sites/Docs combination, but there will be some for whom it's a good fit and we'll see more of it.

In 2021, we will see architectures that are much more headless. Server-side applications based on DXA and other frameworks won't go away, but there will be some customers consuming all their content directly from the Public Content API. There will also be customers who take a hybrid approach, with the main site served from an application, with some features consuming the API from the browser.

The real consequences of the RWS takeover will start to become apparent. The combined company is now the biggest vendor of language services, with a huge customer base, compared with RWS and SDL previously being 4th and 5th respectively. This is probably a good thing, although their competitors will probably not take it lying down. There'll be cost savings, of course, but I'm guessing that will be limited to consolidating sales offices and the like. After any such merger, there'll be an effort to "de-duplicate" the technology. There must be quite some overlap in the language technology, but as far as I know, RWS hasn't got any existing offering that would compete with Tridion Sites and Docs. The last few years have seen SDL move away from previous ambitions of pervasive-platform-hood and put the focus back on being best-of-breed; this and the recent technical mergers of Sites and Docs are evidence that technology de-duplication has already been a clear focus for SDL. So it's probably just "business as usual", but the question remains as to whether the new company sees this division as a driver for future business. The shareholders will want to see cost savings. Will RWS have the vision to invest in the R&D to capitalise on the directions we've seen so far, or will it be just enough hay to feed the cash cow? My 2021 prediction on this is non-commital. We'll see some hints, but nobody's going to be throwing the tiller hard over, especially now that they are steering a super-tanker. This time next year, we might have a clue. The same goes for the inevitable re-branding that's coming. SDL is a strong brand, and they'll do it carefully. Presumably this time we get to keep the name Tridion! :-)

Happy New Year, everyone!