July 15, 2015
  |   AEM, Blog, WEM / WCM

5 Things I Wish I Knew Before Developing With AEM

Have you ever wished you could go back in time?

Of course, who hasn’t. You could tell yourself not to eat that last piece of sushi or, perhaps more importantly, you could save yourself a ton of time and headaches in the workplace. After multiple years of developing in Adobe Experience Manager (AEM), there are a few tips and tricks I’ve learned along the way that would’ve been really handy if I’d known them when I started.

Here’s a list of 5 things I wish I knew before developing with AEM.

1. Rome wasn’t built in a day

We’ve often heard developers or even companies get frustrated with AEM’s learning curve. If you’re not familiar with the development stack AEM offers it can be a lot of new technologies thrown at you all at once. Learning something new can be scary and challenging, but once you know how the underlying technologies work together, it becomes easier and easier. You’ll quickly wonder why you ever thought about using another CMS.

2. Use OOTB features and components as much as possible

One of the many great features about AEM is its expansive out of the box (OOTB) capabilities. You could in fact build out an entire site without developing a single component (see the geometrixx example site included with CQ). But of course you’ll want to customize your site toward your needs. Many of the concepts behind OOTB components, such as column control, lists, or forms, can be easily extended to fit your needs.
No need to start from scratch and develop a fully customized component when you can leverage AEM’s components. Other features, such as the client context and workflows, can be extremely powerful and further extend the usefulness of components.

3. Create granular re-usable components

When developing components with AEM, you should always ask yourself the question “Can I re-use or extend this component in the future?” If the answer is no, you should really sit down and think about how you can make it re-usable. Trust me, 6 months down the line you’ll thank your past self that you made your component re-usable. For example, one of the first major marketing sites we worked on initially had many custom components. When it came down to it we realized that the authors really only needed a handful of components and today Blue Acorn iCi is actively working to build a component library so that we can pull together client sites more quickly.

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4. Your authors aren’t stupid

Some programmers hate dealing with their QA/authoring counterparts. The flip side to that is if you actually sit down and listen to one another, you can often find that what they ask for and what they really want are two separate things. Sometimes what they want is really simple and you can even reuse an existing component to do what they ask. This is one of the reasons you want to build flexible components—it allows you empower your authors to use them for multiple uses across multiple pages and even multiple sites. Don’t restrict your authors to components that perform very specific functions; you’ll be surprised at what they can do with a bucket of reusable components.

5. Stop thinking AEM is like any other CMS you’ve used before

If you’ve had experience with other CMS solutions or even e-commerce platforms, you often get tired of supporting plugins, updating them or, in certain instances, the plugins cause you to get hacked. Thankfully, AEM doesn’t have that problem. It has many of the features you need OOTB, including social media, personalization, user permissions, and even a neat security checklist for you to follow without installing unwanted plugins or add-ons. This can save you a great deal of time when setting up your project and makes updating your AEM version much easier than most other platforms or content management systems.

So sure, you could go back in time and save yourself from food poisoning, but saving yourself, authors, and teammates time by knowing some of these tips will help make your project more successful.

For more information on AEM tips and tricks feel free to contact us today.

John Zeren
John Zeren has over 12 years of industry experience with a passion and focus on web application development. As the VP of Software Development at Blue Acorn iCi, John is responsible for ensuring quality and consistency in our delivery to our customers as well as helping to maintain and build strong relationships. He is also responsible for the tactical and operational direction for the Digital Solutions team and ensuring that individuals have the best means and opportunities to succeed, thrive, and grow in a fast-paced environment.
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