by Ursula Johnson

Created

April 24, 2017

We are excited to share another post in the AEM Rockstar Tips & Tricks Guest Blog series! This Tips & Tricks preview is from Brett Birschbach, an AEM Certified Architect and AEM Rockstar semi-finalist who will be a session presenter at Adobe’s global virtual developer conference, IMMERSE May 15th – 19th 2017. Brett will detail his Tips & Tricks in a follow-up post after IMMERSE. Brett’s session will be on Tuesday, May 16, 1:15-2:15 PM Central (11:15-12:15 PDT).

Brett is the Adobe Marketing Cloud Solutions Architect for HS2 Solutions, a digital transformation company based in Chicago. He is a hands-on problem solver with experience leading large multinational, multi-site platform projects.  Brett led the development of the new Shared Component Properties feature in the open source ACS AEM Commons library. For more from Brett, visit his Github: HitmanInWis.

Multi-site platforms are the norm in a mature Adobe Experience Manager installation. However, most implementations, in true Agile fashion, start as a single site and then expand to support multiple. Suppose your client is the NFL and it wants to put all 32 teams on the same AEM platform. We all know that launching 32 team sites on day one is A Bad Idea, so likely you are going to start with just one site as a proof of concept.  However, Agile tends to tempt a lot of us in this situation into thinking that “I’ll just code for this one site now, and worry about multi-site support and code structures on the second site when I actually need them.”  YAGNI, right?  Except…you ARE going to need it.  Pretending you are building a single site when you know the platform is going to support multiple, thinking only in the present instead of taking a step back and getting the full picture, is a great way to paint yourself into a corner.

 

Man painted into corner

Image by Ali Moussa, HS2 Solutions

Coding a multi-site platform beginning with single-site patterns, we are faced with technical debt in making the transition to multi-site – technical debt that often never gets fully paid.  Let’s be real, clients want to see sites #2 through #32 launched as quickly as possible after site #1 is launched.  After all, that’s the vision you cast them – that they would easily be able to create and manage all their sites on a single platform using the same components and authoring techniques as the first site.  To the client, having a single working site seems like it should account for 80% of the total work, so the rest of the sites should be a snap.  You know as well as I do that the urgency to turn out these sites means that much of the technical debt accrued early in the project will be worked around and put off until resolution on a proverbial someday, never to be repaid.  Bad decisions made when creating the first site often linger on for as long as the platform lives.

Image by Ali Moussa, HS2 Solutions

But it doesn’t have to be this way.  Structuring your code base for multi-site success isn’t that hard to do, it’s just easier not to do it (which is why we end up in this situation).  But what if you had a step-by-step guide?  What if you could leverage the experience of peers who have already done it well?  This stuff isn’t rocket science, and the principles don’t change much from project to project.  No sense wasting your time trying to come up with all the techniques on your own.  Wouldn’t you rather be doing the fun stuff like banging out a sweet, interactive Schedule component for authors to drop onto those 32 NFL team sites?  Of course, you would!  That’s why I encourage you to attend the “Multi-Sites: Setting your Codebase Up for Success” session at Adobe IMMERSE 2017.

 

Why should you attend?

  • Adobe IMMERSE is the premier AEM developer conference of the year, focusing on the technical audience.  If you’re not already registered, sign up using the link above!
  • I’ll be covering Basic, Advanced, and Overachiever techniques, 15 in all, using the NFL example above (modified to HFL, to avoid any grumbling from the lawyers).
  • The techniques come from a successful, international, multi-site platform implementation hosting a dozen brand and corporate sites, so they are tried and proven.
  • Every example (yes, every last one) will be demonstrated by real code that you can download, look at, and play with in order to gain a true understanding that only code can give.

Disclaimer: Being a Green Bay native (and therefore huge Packers aficionado) I *may* take the liberty to take a few jabs at our archrivals in Chicago…don’t take it personally 🙂