IBM WCM – when to use what

More Often than not, WCM designer is faced with the choice of when should he use: Out of the Box components, Custom Components, Workflow actions, Rendering Plugins, JSP components and so forth. This choice means the success or failure of his design. This article’s purpose is to provide some basic guidelines for the designer to be able to make the right choices at the right time and come up with a successful, maintainable design.

1) Rely on Out of the box components as much as possible. Usually, if the designer has some development skills, he is inclined to demonstrate it by injecting more and more custom components. The disadvantage of that being:-

a) Will not receive support from IBM. IBM wouldn’t claim responsibility for  custom-made code.

b) Would not receive updates from IBM. As new fix packs come from IBM, it wouldn’t benefit the custom-made components.

c) It would less maintainable by the client as the client would have less of the expertise of the designer. So, they would not be able to maintain the custom-made code.

2) If Out of the Box components fail, try to rely on custom rendering plugins. Custom rendering plugins are easier to maintain and they are reusable across multiple components.

3) If rendering plugins fail, use JSP components. JSP’s are harder to maintain. Try to delay this choice as much as possible.

4) JSP validations are good and they are recommended. Make javascript validations for components by making custom jsp for fields in the authoring templates. They are usually effective and they are good features that impress the business. However, try to separate the JSP validations from the field elements themselves. Making an extra text element that validates the elements using javascript means that the author does not have to save to know that something is wrong with his input. Also, not all validations are covered in the authoring templates. Making the authoring templates smart is one of the key factors for a successful WCM design. However, if one adds the validation inside the same element that renders the authoring template element is only good if the designer wants to change the behavior of the element. It must be thoroughly tested if this is the case to handle all possible conditions.

5) Use Workflow custom actions only if the need arises. Do not over-use the feature, and do not over-complicate the design with workflow custom actions. Custom actions usually come as a response to the requirement of the customer rather than at the will of the designer to come up with a superb design.