Go Mobile with SDL Tridion 2011 and Netbiscuits

There are a number of technical solutions for publishing pages to mobile devices from SDL Tridion 2011, in this article we look at the simple steps to go mobile with our partner Netbiscuits.

Introduction

If you are reading this article, then chances are that you are already pretty familiar with how multi-site and multi-channel delivery is pretty straightforward using the SDL Tridion 2011 platform. As a developer there are a number of options you can choose to publish templates for different devices.

For example I have recently spent time with one our implementation partners Siteworx, who built a transactional mobile website for Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group (you can read more about that in this case study).

However, in this article I am going to focus on the concepts you need to become familiar with to publish to the hundreds of different types of mobiles devices and handsets through our mobile technology partner Netbiscuits.

Developing Mobile Sites for Netbiscuits

A Netbiscuits site is a regular site

A mobile website for the Netbiscuits delivery platform is managed and developed in exactly the same as any other SDL Tridion site and as a developer you have the same choice of developing in JSP or .NET.

Development as usual

The componentized process of developing a page to be published through the Netbiscuits delivery infrastructure is no different conceptually to a standard Tridion page.

The only difference is that Netbiscuits uses a mark-up language called BiscuitML, a standards compliant XML format that you code your delivery components against instead of XHTML.

Controls and custom functionality built for your regular websites can be reused on the mobile website (once they have been adapted to deliver BiscuitML).

BiscuitML

Netbiscuits provides a wealth of development resources online, for example there is a comprehensive guide to BiscuitML here: http://www.netbiscuits.com/biscuitml-reference.

Applying that to a SDL Tridion component is very simple, as you can see from the code example below.The example shows a component template that displays article details in BiscuitML (taken from our demonstration environment):

<rb:article ID="Article1" runat="server">
 <!-- TemplateBeginIf cond="title" -->
  <HeadLine><text>@@RenderComponentField("title", 0)@@</text></HeadLine> 
 <!-- TemplateEndIf -->

 <!-- TemplateBeginIf cond="summary" -->
  <RichText>
    @@RenderComponentField("summary", 0)@@
  </RichText> 
 <!-- TemplateEndIf -->

 <!-- TemplateBeginIf cond="media" --> 
  <Image Src="@@media@@" />
 <!-- TemplateEndIf -->

 <!-- TemplateBeginIf cond="description" -->
  <RichText>
   @@RenderComponentField("description", 0)@@
  </RichText> 
 <!-- TemplateEndIf -->
</rb:article>

The example uses the Dreamweaver Template Building Blocks � more on the best practice of compound templates can be found in this article The different levels of Compound Templating - Part 1

XHTML/BBCode Conversion eXtension

We have an eXtension on this site to convert XHTML rich text content fields to the Netbiscuits rich text format (Netbiscuits uses BBCode).

Rendering the mobile site

Mobile websites are hosted in exactly the same way your other Tridion internet site. The Netbiscuits application is acting as a reverse proxy, in that it gets the domain for the mobile site and redirects requests to the mobile website. Once it has done that the Netbiscuits platform resolves the BiscuitML and renders the content optimized for the visitor's specific mobile device at request time.

Netbiscuits Architecture

Preview

A fully rendered mobile preview is available for SDL Tridion 2011, enabling content authors to see the BiscuitML rendered page in both the CMS and SiteEdit.

And that, is pretty much it! I hope this high level article helps you get started with SDL Tridion and NetBiscuits.

Thanks to Bart Koopman for the technical detail - please get in touch if you need more information.

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About the Author
Ian Truscott

Ian Truscott is VP Products, North America for the SDL Web Content Management division. With over a decade of experience with software vendors and as an analyst, Ian is a WCM industry veteran and is a knowledgeable and passionate about engaging visitors over the web.

Ian is @iantruscott on Twitter or you can contact him by email.

SDL CMT division