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Taking over a large-scale AEM project

Posted by bcmoney on April 30, 2017 in Uncategorized with No Comments


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This month will mark the beginning of the on-boarding of my company’s major Adobe Experience Manager (AEM) project. In fact, much of the work has already started. Since last December we’ve been building out our in-house Development team for the first time in over 7 years (prior to a temporary failed outsourcing experiment), and in many ways this is a first in company history as well since even before we brought strategic IT roles back in-house, there were very few actual Developers with more of a focus on customizing software from vendors than building our own.

Up to now, we’ve been able to focus on planning how we want to structure the team including methodologies (Agile obviously a hot topic and almost a no-brainer these days but must be done carefully to be done right), as well as technologies (although we’re somewhat committed to AEM before our team was even formed, we can strategically align other tech stacks where it makes sense and come up with a consistent architecture). We’ve also been working on hiring and interviews, which as anyone in the IT sector knows can be very time-consuming, and it can be quite difficult to find good candidates. In my spare time, I’ve already been trying to get ready by learning as much as I can about AEM as well.

Although I’ve found it hard initially to find good quality documentation, tutorials, articles & reliable solution walkthroughs, things have certainly been getting better since I first started looking into AEM back in November 2016. Adobe has known there is a gap and seem to be working to fix it, as I’m already seeing better docs for AEM 6.2 (released 2016-04-21) for instance as compared to the older AEM 6.1 (released 2015-05-28). With AEM 6.3 due out this spring, hopefully the situation will continue to improve. Here are some of the better more “official” blogs I’ve found:

However there are also tons of personal blogs, random links and such to sift through. I consider these a bit less reliable/professional and more hobbyist or DIY trial & error types, but they often still have some useful references scattered about that just can’t be found in the official docs:

And yes, sad as it is I still occasionally find myself doing “archeological excavations” from AEM blogs & sites no longer with us but linked to from “Official Answers” in the community or old Slack messages or other posts, for instance:
https://web.archive.org/web/20170129172910/http://adobeaemclub.com/

  • Reddit
  • Slashdot
  • Dzone
  • InfoQ
  • Medium
  • Baeldung
  • Mkyong

What attracts me to any particular E-Learning type resource would be exceptional content in one of 3 areas:

  • Open discussion formats (AMA), where we can reach out directly to experts, ask questions, get their take on certain scenarios and learn best practices first hand, view walkthroughs or even live webinars of exactly the thing I’m struggling with, etc…
  • Really clean professional looking layouts and easy to find information at your fingertips, and a useful Browse all, as well as Search feature within the resource itself to filter their available content quickly and not need to rely on an external Search Engine to find everything…
  • That said, being well-tuned with basic SEO for contextual search engine results on the likes of DuckDuckGo, Bing, Yahoo! and/or Google where you can drilldown on the site then add some technical terms and get EXACTLY what you were looking for…

    i.e. Google Hack of using site-specific searches as in:
    site:dzone.com Jenkins publish artifact to sonatype
    You can see the first result (depending on your search engine “filter bubble” compared to mine) is absolutely the right answer… and there’s also a relevant Jenkins Declarative Pipelines REFCARD suggested

One thing I felt was a major gap, how about more clear communications and alignment between Adobe Sales and Adobe Experience Manager support?

In the short time we’ve been ramping up, I’ve often found conflicting advice and info from each. For instance with the “Communities” feature. We had an idea to potentially add “Voting” Up/Down feature to our AEM web presence. A DayCare support technician said “easy, haven’t you checked out our ‘AEM Communities’ features? its there OOTB with AEM”. So we inquired to our Adobe Sales whether our current AEM Sites & AEM DAM license covers use of Communities which is indeed just sitting there unused and we get a response back “we are no longer promoting AEM Communities or offering licenses, so we suggest you look at blah blah blah not useful to our team AT ALL.” Then from an Adobe trainer we got “I’ve heard we’re starting to discourage use of Reverse Replication use-cases in general” which Communities requires, so what exactly is AEM Communities at this point? Some useless play tool to use locally but not with real projects? More importantly, what options does that leave us?

UPDATE (2017-06-30): Figure if that’s the messaging then “Communities” must be deprecated in AEM 6.3 right? NOPE, its featured prominently on the first landing page in Authoring mode for TouchUI… WTF Adobe?!?!?! So we could have used this thing a couple years ago but avoided it because of mixed communications.

Aside from these gaps in documentation, community outreach, and occasional sales/technical/training misalignments, it seems like AEM is indeed a powerful platform but perhaps with a very big learning curve, and certainly not the best solution for ever Content Management System (CMS) need you may have. I will admit though, when you’re in a large-scale enterprise setting with many websites/webapps/mobile apps and many languages to support, it seems like a decent solution and there’s probably a reason its made it to the top of the Gartner matrix for Web Content Management (WCM).

As I learn stuff, I’ll be compiling all the most useful AEM related links I find on my wiki here so linking in case anyone else can benefit:

http://wiki.bcmoney-mobiletv.com/index.php/AEM

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BC$ = Behavior, Content, Money

The goal of the BC$ project is to raise awareness and make changes with respect to the three pillars of information freedom - Behavior (pursuit of interests and passions), Content (sharing/exchanging ideas in various formats), Money (fairness and accessibility) - bringing to light the fact that:

1. We regularly hand over our browser histories, search histories and daily online activities to companies that want our money, or, to benefit from our use of their services with lucrative ad deals or sales of personal information.

2. We create and/or consume interesting content on their services, but we aren't adequately rewarded for our creative efforts or loyalty.

3. We pay money to be connected online (and possibly also over mobile), yet we lose both time and money by allowing companies to market to us with unsolicited advertisements, irrelevant product offers and unfairly structured service pricing plans.

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