Live edit freemarker templates in magnolia

Small little steps to render freemarker (FTL) templates in magnolia while still being able to edit them and not put them into the templates workspace

  1. Inside magnolia central goto /server/rendering/freemarker/templateLoaders
  2. Create a contentNode “fileSystem”
  3. On the newly created “fileSystem” node, create two properties:
    A “class” property with value “info.magnolia.freemarker.loaders.LazyFileTemplateLoader”
    A “basePath” property with value “path/to/your/templates”

Even though the system is now capable of loading the templates from the filesystem, it will first look on the classpath.

To change the order in which FTL files are retrieved we need to move the fileSystem node into the first position inside the /server/rendering/freemarker/templateLoaders:

  1. Select the fileSystem node, and click the Move Item action.
  2. Select the first childnode of /server/rendering/freemarker/templateLoaders (typically jcr) and select MOVE BEFORE.
  3. Open any ftl template, add some random code, observe that it reflects instantly. Make sure to remove the random code afterwards

Happy coding.

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Posted in Development magnolia by Arnoud ten Hoedt. No Comments

Bootstrap sequence for portable web applications

Having worked on larger scale sites, we found out that you are bound to look at more scalable solutions to integrating widgets, code snippets or complete applications and mesh them into functional sites, in any given composition.

To share some of our best practices, possibly the most important thing we changed is to eliminate all body onloads and instead rely on a different loading design, which is extremely friendly when your application is to be included by many webpages.

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Wouldn’t that be something?

Recently on Facebook I was asked what my vision was, as once again I was referencing to Simon Sinek, who’s writing and public appearances form a great inspiration to me. Sharp and quickly I replied that I belief in change and the need to anticipate to change, rather than staring blindly at yesterdays problems. That I belief that passion and hard work are essential in your working life. That I belief in the need for a “Why”, a vision, a mission a sense of purpose. Taking some more time to reflect these three notions are just symptoms of what I think I have come to belief.

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The User Experience in Online Architecture

Companies hire the top graphical designers and user interaction specialist to think and design from an user perspective in order to create an optimal user experience. Specialist who live their working lives thinking from the outside in, placing the user central for a single channel customer journey or complex cross channels experiences. While thinking from the outside in is considered key in creating long lasting customer lifecycles, this stand in large contrast with the IT behind the experience. Where traditional software architecture has its place, user experience centric online architectures will need take a flight in upcoming years. Not only is agile taking over IT, it’s also taking over architecture.

A different way of thinking

An important online architecture principle is the notion that software and software architecture is about users, persons, humans. Current tendency is to limit ourselves to (paying) customers, but inside the user experience of online architecture this includes resellers, company employees, our IT staff that works on development and maintenance, and any other user involved. Enabling our employees with great software, will allow them to service your clients better. Enabling our IT to develop faster and better and more flexible will increase a companies ability to follow trends and launch competitive features.

In order to achieve this the user centric architecture thinking is not merely about software, but focuses strongly on processes, measuring them and and continuously improving them. It’s about blending channels. Why should our employees work with hideous interfaces while we where focusing on the internet user, only because we are overlooking the fact that online user experience design and development in it’s core is channel ignorant, but user centric.

This in contrast to ordinary software design that tends to focuses on system stability, inflexibility and trying to be future proof by casting predefined processes in iron, unless a certain use case is to explicitly include configurability or flexibility.

So where do we start?

If we consider that we could take the more the user centric approach we have been using for our internet website and mobile channels and transfer it to our other IT systems to service our employees and retailers, we might actually first need to strongly consider dropping the view that they even exists such a thing as intranet and internet as different channels. We should start by velvet wrapping the silo’s which are nice for organizational purposes but service no good from the outside in user centric view. Our focus should be to not only start blending not only opened and closed (non secure / secure) we see at the outside, but including open, closed, intranet, extranet to achieve the unified user experience that expresses our company. Because as with company statements and slogans like “People matter, results count” can be learned: they only truly count if the effort is taken to apply them outside as well as inside the organisation with a equal strength. I strongly believe the same goes for user experience and the online architecture that enables us.

Online landscapers

While trying to tackle the speeding world of trends in online technology, there seems to be an increasing demand in what is referred to as “Online Architects”. From what I have encountered as much can be said that in most customer views has little to nothing to do with Enterprise Architecture, or architecture in itself.

Like so many silver bullets the online architect is expected to be someone extraordinary.  Almost magician like and able to make “your information flow and your business fly” with quick thinking, best practices and of the shelve solutions. Open source, third party services and at no costs preferable. If put like this, it actually sounds as easy a job as any.

In practice if any such a person existed, he or she would be filthy rich by now as the range of technology is too broad and complex to grasp. Basically anyone who is capable of doing so is no less than a genius. Luckily however there is good news as well. As with other architectural topics you don’t need to be the all knowing wonder to have a solid view on online architecture.

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Creating PDF documentation with Apache ANT and XHTMLRenderer

Generally I believe that telling developers to write documentation as part of a project requirements is not always the right approach. If a developer is convinced that nobody will actually ever take the effort to read the documentation anyhow, why even bother to tell them otherwise. I think there is a certain pride element that might be overlooked, even though the task itself will not get any less boring of course. What if we would be able to supply the developer with some tooling that takes the documentation they have to create anyhow, and leverage it into nice looking corporate branded PDF files. Creating things of beauty, doesn’t solve the problem, but might appeal to the pride aspect and make it more bearable.

For many projects, and certainly Java projects, it seems default to use tools like XSL-FO and Apache FOP, which are powerful but also complex to use at times.

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Posted in css Development Internet by Arnoud ten Hoedt. No Comments

JanRain Engage in an AJAX environment

We where looking to embed Janrain in a somewhat complex AJAX driven single page interface flow. The default behavior of the JanRain Engage part of the flow is to redirect the top window to the token_url. As you can imagine this messes up your SPI state.

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Posted in javascript Work by Arnoud ten Hoedt. 1 Comment

People Matter. Results Count

Yesterday (depending on your timezone) Capgemini revealed it’s new brand identity “People matter, results count”.

Following anticipated discussions in which way the comma in this slogan should be interpreted, there is a personal choice to this interpretation as well. We can take the easy way and take the negative approach which seems to be on top of the mind of some of us.

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Thinking out loud: semantic CSS

There is a concept I have been running around since college. While reading into the semantic web and technology you see al kinds of great concepts. A major drawback for me has always been the amount of effort it would take a development team to actually be semantic web ready. Either create a shadow website or complex XML standards based structure with semantic value, or use XHTML with namespaced attributes. More recently using micro formats and specific predefined CSS class names has become trending. But all have downsides: They aren’t easy on the developer for whom semantics is only one of the dozens of standards we need to adhere to.

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Content as a service.

While having discussions with some colleagues, I find it amazing how otherwise very knowledgeable content management specialist find it very complex to see that the next generation for web content delivery should be content as a service.

Talking endlessly on terms like pre-publishing, caching, creating complex webservices, reverting back to JSP’s, PHP’s or servlets, it’s only nice food for discussion in order to kill some time.

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