Not Just Another Tridion GUI Extension

For the past few weeks I’ve been working (whenever I could find the time) on a GUI extension for the new 2011 Tridion platform.

Unlike previous extensions I’ve built, this one is much more complex and spans over more functionality than the more specific ones I worked on before.

I call it the “List Quick Helper“. Where the main idea was to create a useful tool to supplement the information exposed by the GUI’s list view. The theme of this extension is to boost productivity by exposing data quickly and providing small tools to get common tasks done faster.

If you’ve worked with the Content Manager Explorer you’re familiar with having to open an item to view its properties, say to tell the schema of a component you have to open the component’s editing form or to know the file name of page, again need to open the edit form. Even on a fast system it takes at least a few seconds to load up the form. For a shared item you need to select one of the options in the modal dialog (open parent, localize or read-only). After several clicks and at least a few seconds (if not more) you finally can find that little piece of information you were seeking.

What if that information was exposed in the list view immediately? Well, now it can be:

Tridion GUI List Quick Helper View

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My First Attempt at Tridion 2011 GUI Extensions

About a month ago I happily shared a GUI extension I’ve built for Tridion 2009 called the Item XML Display extension.
This extension lets a user (typically a developer) view the entire XML structure of a Tridion item from within the GUI without the need to open a new IE window or having a remote session to the CM server.

If you’re one of those already using this extension and have been dreading the moment Tridion 2011 will come out and you will be left without being able to quickly view items’ XML, fear not! I got you covered:

xmldisplay-extension-2011-firefox
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The Read-Only Fields Tridion GUI Extension

A much requested feature we at Tridion have always heard customers asking for is to be able to make component fields disabled for the end user when they are entering content.

This could be due to several reasons, one example could be that the content shouldn’t be manually typed into the field but rather be chosen from a 3rd party source (like a CRM database), for this a custom URL can be used.
A custom URL window is a neat feature in Tridion allowing the developers of the solution to build an external form/app/html page that will help the editors enter the right information into a field.

You can also think of a scenario where fields will become disabled or enabled based on the content being entered into other fields, giving the component edit form a more wizard-like feel.

The extension I created doesn’t have any such specific business logic but it does give a good basis to achieve it if needed.

The extension itself covers all types of fields; text, rich text, numeric, date, links and embedded.
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Using jQuery for Tridion GUI Extensions

A relatively unknown feature of the Tridion CMS product is the GUI extensibility framework.

This is actually a fantastic feature which allows us to create and supplement the user interface with just about any type of addition we can think of.

It is pretty unknown because of the lack of documentation but with a little bit of investigation work it is possible to find all sorts of treasures we can use to extend the current GUI.

Here’s one example that is already available on the SDLTridionWorld website’s Community eXtensions section: “Republish from publish queue”, this nifty extension gives users the ability to republish items directly from the queue instead of the normal way of locating the item within the folder or structuregroup hierarchy.

The extension framework is quite robust (not without limitations of course) and allows us to add toolbar items, context menu options, tree nodes or simply run scripts that can do just about anything.

In this article I’m focusing on the latter, adding a scripted extension to do different tasks.

If you’ve done any kind of javascript development you know how difficult and complex it can get, that’s where jQuery comes in, jQuery being a javascript library created to ease the development of client side code.

jQuery’s CSS selectors and methods for DOM manipulation are exactly the tools to help us create Tridion GUI extensions quickly and with relative ease.

The way the extension framework is built allows us to create a jQuery extension that can be reused by other extensions.

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