SDL Tridion MVP Retreat 2011

Most of you reading this will likely be aware that the SDL Tridion MVP retreat just took place. I’m not going to go in to the details of what happened as Jules has already done this, and I experienced far less drama than he did. What I am going to do is write about what I gained from the weekend.

Knowledge

The biggest thing I took from the weekend was that, despite promising to do more last year, I haven’t been contributing to the community as much as I’d like. Yes I’m active on the forum, but I’d planned to blog more and, as the lack of content on this blog attests to, I haven’t done that. This post is the first step of my attempt to rectify the situation. I hesitate to commit to a firm commitment to blogging though, as the main reason for not doing so has been lack of time. The second step of my new plan was to install the WordPress app on my iPad so I can blog when I’m on the train. Hopefully these will be enough to allow to share more of the knowledge I pick up every day I work on demos or talk to customers about how SDL Tridion can help them.

Extensions

My next big learning was around 2011 GUI extensions. This year, like last year, we focussed on GUI extensions as the deliverable from the event. To justify the investment in the program we need to deliver something tangible back to the community – without it the trip is just a jolly, and had no value to SDL (who pay the bill).

Last year’s focus was on social extensions, while this year it was migrating the Power Tools. For those that don’t know, the Power Tools are a set of, mainly administrative, tools that simplify carrying out certain tasks within SDL Tridion. They have been around for a number of years now, and were built for previous versions. They also depend heavily on certain existing parts of the GUI in the versions they work with. Given the changes to the GUI in 2011, they largely no longer worked. Coupled with the fact that there are new, improved APIs available, they were a more than suitable candidate for the output from the retreat.

Having said all that, I didn’t actively take part in the work on the Power Tools, although I do plan to in the future. I had my own agenda which, thanks to the prep work done by Chris on the Power Tools, I was able to follow. I’ve been trying to continue my work on the social extensions I began at the retreat last year, with limited success. This was partly due to limited bandwidth, but also due to lack of knowledge on how to proceed with the ideas I had. Thankfully Chris’ groundwork filled enough of the knowledge gap for me to get moving again.

Chris had spent some time creating a base for the continued development of the Power Tools, including a reference implementation of a WCF service and a JavaScript proxy to allow it to be called from a GUI. Thew principle idea being that this approach solves the issues around the complexity of calling complex business logic in JavaScript as it can all be handled in the service’s .Net code. This was exactly what I was missing so I set about refactoring it for my own use. I won’t go in to detail here about what I’m working on, but I am planning to blog about it when I have it more complete than it currently is.

For me this retreat was essential as without it I would either have been waiting forever to gain that knowledge, or would never have gained it at all.

Friendship

Finally, a big take away for me from the retreat is friendship. I already knew the attendees, if not personally, then by reputation. Of those I knew personally this was the first time I’d seen many of them since the last retreat, some even longer than that. For the others, this was my first time meeting them.

Of course we all share a common interest – the SDL Tridion community – but I was surprised to see just how well we all got on together. I was the kind of relationship that I’ve seen take weeks or months to build in other situations. We had four days of great company, great banter, and great cooperation, while still enjoying, to the best of our ability, the great location, great food, and plentiful drink. We even managed, I believe, to still deliver to the promise of the event and produce a meaningful output. I think the deliverable was never really in question, but it wouldn’t have been anywhere near as enjoyable to do it without the genuine friendship shown by the attendees for each other

I consider myself to be extremely lucky to be recognised as a peer of those who I joined in Portugal, as well as those who didn’t/couldn’t/wouldn’t make it to the retreat. I hope that I can continue to be perceived in this way.

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3 responses to “SDL Tridion MVP Retreat 2011

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