TSONp: Tridion, Surfers, Ourém, NPM, pork

It came to my shock and surprise to learn in January that I’d been awarded a fourth SDL Tridion Web Tridion MVP award. In the previous year, I hadn’t felt as if my contributions were that great —but contribution is not in the eye of the beholder. One of the perks of winning an MVP award is the opportunity to go to a retreat in Portugal. I just got back, and I want to share the experience.

I’m not going to lie to you and say this is a quick review of that retreat. Nay, this is a comprehensive review of TSONp (Tridion, Surfers, Ourem, NPM, pork)

T is for Tridion

Ok, let’s get some basics out of the way. This was a Tridion retreat and we definitely talked about Tridion. For starters, we talked about … how it’s called Tridion. Like, For realsies this time.

Then a few folks pitched their pet projects. After that, we went around and signed up for whatever project seemed like the most fun.

  • For some, this was GUI extensions for translating URLs.
  • For others, a PowerShell CoreService module learning thingamajigger.
  • Some others did some PowerShell Reporting.
  • Still others thought it would be cool to translate file names via a GUI extension.
  • Then some folks worked on DXA preview and app setup testing scripts.
  • And then some others worked on a client-side DXA prototype

Turns out, I don’t know what PowerShell is. Or does. So I might be a little fuzzy on the details. I swear it looked like JavaScript in a blue terminal.

I started on “Team GUI Extension” and ended up on “Team Client-side DXA prototype” in a matter of two minutes. Not that Quirijn’s team wouldn’t have been cool, but Bart said JavaScript like 4 more times when he pitched his project, and you all know how I feel about JavaScript1.

And maybe I thought he was a little lonely on the swing all by himself.


Saurabh Gangwar, Niclas Cedermalm, Ray Kempees, Bart Koopman, and I decided to team up and work on DXA. We wanted to see if we could create a client-side framework that could rely on a model service. We opted to not name our team as an acronym of our initials (GKKKT doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue on account of both vowels and racists). So we opted for the much cooler sounding “DXAJS”.

It sounds cool because it has an X in the name. And it ends in “JS”. And you could (probably) pronounce it (¿DaxaJass?). So DXAJS was by far the coolest team.

Team Daxajass too cool for the pool ya fool.

I’ll have to write a (few) follow up blog post(s) explaining what all went into DXA-JS, but suffice to say, it’s kinda cool. We were able to get to a very basic POC demonstrating how we could create a client-side framework with DXA in less than two days.

JSON is JavaScript, too

At the end of the second day, we presented our prototype / POC. We managed to present working JavaScript taking (static) Tridion data and rendering a component template. When we presented, one of the MVPs had astutely noticed that we were using the JSON.parse() . He asked if JSON was a special library that I was using, as he’d never seen this before in JavaScript.

This turned in to a fun learning opportunity. I explained that JSON is an acronym for JavaScript Object Notation; so JSON is JavaScript . But that wasn’t the learning opportunity for me.
Dominic Cronin later summarized this learning experience :

We’re all the smartest person in the room — for something. What’s great about the MVP retreats is that it’s a different thing for everyone.

The MVP retreat is a collection of .Net experts, PowerShell experts, Business Analysts, back-end developers, Architects, and front-end guys that just-so-happen to work with Tridion. Something that feels like second nature to me might be new material to someone else.

O is for Ourém

Ok, enough nerd things. Where were we in Portugal this year?

We stayed in the region of Ourém. It’s pronounced something like, “Orrh aynnnnnnn”, but more nasal. If you’re unfamiliar with the region, just check the wikipedia entry. Go ahead and go to that page. I’ll wait.

That picture of the castle there?

That’s about where we were.

Pics or it didn’t happen

Local Attractions include…

Miracles unrelated to Java(Script)

Most practicing Catholics (and even some Protestants) are familiar with the story of Fátima. The TL;DR of it is that in 1917, The Virgin Mary appears to three shepherd girls and delivers them some messages. Those messages were prophecies and calls to action surrounding the events of World Wars I and II. Fátima is a place of tremendous faith.

And we got to visit it.

While I am not a Catholic, I am a practicing Christian. I read the Bible. I pray often. I attend and volunteer at my church regularly. I fit into that category of “Evangelical / Born-again ” Christian.

So I knew the story of Fátima.

As to whether I believe in the story, all I will say is, “it doesn’t take much faith to believe in impossible things”2. I’d argue, and I think many of the MVPs affirmed, that Fátima was a special place — regardless of what you believed.

Fatima at sunset

S is for Surfers

The Tridion MVP retreat always includes an excursion day. This year, we took an excursion out to Nazaré. What’s particularly notable about Nazaré is that Garret McNamara surfed a 78 foot (23.8 eurofoot) wave there. Nazaré is home to some insanely large waves.

I am informed that the reason for these incredibly large waves has roughly something to do with science. And also some trench that’s deeper than node_modules folder for your average DXA project.

Carla Osorio, our Event CoordinatorBlessed Lady of Perpetual Kitten Wrangling, wasn’t content for us to just go to a place and stare at some waves.

Not Pictured: Sign that says, “do not cross yellow line. Or Carla”

Nay, we had to go to the waves. That means she rented two speed boats, and we got in the ocean, and went to the exact spot where this incredible wave was.

Boat RidesNaps

Turns out, the best time to mention to a boat captain you have narcolepsy is before you fall asleep. I might have taken a short nap for the first half of the boat ride.

I got some pretty good video footage of my feet, though

N is for…

I struggled with the N.

N is for Nuno?

First I thought maybe the N should stand for Nuno. But, as it turns out, “Nuno” is a Portuguese name. And its somewhat common:

Translation: It beats Nuno how you drive on this road
Statue of a Nuno holding the head of what we can only assume is Adobe

N is for Nope?

So, I brought a game called Exploding Kittens, and we played that. Boy a lot of people got noped pretty hard. But I don’t think N is for “nope”.

N is for NPM

Node Package Manager. The “Nuget” for front-end developers. No front-end development is complete without it.

We got to use an NPM package called http-server to spin up a server in a folder from the command line

I used NPM to install gulp and ESLint, which helped me debug some issues.

We talked about installing frameworks like React or Angular with NPM.

And then we decided, “dxa-js” should be an NPM package at some point. So, we went ahead and planted the flag.

NPM became an unsung hero for the team. It was kinda cool.


So, turns out, the Portuguese love them some pork. This shouldn’t really be news to anyone, but I really just want to give a quick shout out to Morcela, which is this delightful black sausage.

Pork, I love you so hard.

Some Thanks

A big thanks goes to the SDL committee for awarding me again. I really and truly do appreciate it.

But a bigger thanks goes to Carla Osorio, Paulo Linhares, Cristell Duarte, and João Dourado.

Her Blessed Lady of Kitten Wrangling managed to not only wrangle us kittens, but exceeding her SLA3. I mean, some jackass with Narcolepsy fell asleep in a boat ride and didn’t fall out. How is that even possible? Carla must’ve given gravity a death-stare or something. Two more miracles and we have to make her a saint, I think. Carla you were amazing.

Cristelle Duarte took amazing photos all the time. Like some secret Portuguese Photo Ninja, wherever you were, she was there gathering photographic evidence that you were having a good time. All the while, she had a good time, too. I’m told Cristelle caught a picture of me smiling; which is on par with finding a four-leaf clover. Nicely done Cristelle.

Paulo was our driver and bagman. I felt honored (and frightened) to be declared his wingman. Honored because wing-man meant sitting shotgun (which is a rare opportunity when you’re hobbit-sized). Frightened because Portugal is a country where things like guard rails and wide 2-lane roads are signs of weakness. He managed to get us through some tight spaces in some high places without so much as a scratch4.

João was our musician and back up driver. He plays some mean guitar and also is willing to wake up before the sun, on a sunday, and drive me to the airport. That’s pretty rad. Thanks João.

Sources and whatnots

1 Nerdboner.

2Belief and Faith are weird things. It’s hard to believe in miracles all on your own. And it’s hard to accept that rational people have faith in what feels highly irrational. But That’s because Faith and Belief are different, because they come from different places.

3The retreat’s Failure, Review, and Negotiable Killings committee established Carla’s MVP SLA at 80%.

4To the body of the vehicle. Rims of cars not included.

Tell me what you think