Project Guide

10 minute read

Project Documentation

Important principle on project is to understand why you are creating content, primary driver for creating must be for reuse by someone else on the project. It’s important that documentation is seen as a journey not a deliverable. Everyone should be using documentation as a way of sharing knowledge with another person on the project. The documentation that is written without an audience on a project is wasted.

This is a sample TOC that can be used as a starting point for projects, you may not require all of the sections but at some point in your project question and need for information will arise and will require a placeholder to communication knowledge to the team.

  1. Project Library
    1. Management Design
      1. Knowledge Management
        1. Project FAQ - Getting started with documentation
        2. Keyword Index - auto generated from page Tags
        4. Recent Activity
      2. Deliverables - list of all deliverables
      3. Roles - team, support, ops
      4. Guidelines
        1. Task Management - Jira usage, stories, tests, bugs
        2. Knowledge Management - Confluence usage, specs, review
        3. Page Specification - Template Description
        4. Component Specification - Template Description
          1. User Story
          2. Acceptance Criteria
          3. Behaviour Driven Testing
      5. Meeting Notes
        1. Meetings
        2. Retrospectives
        3. Discovery Sessions
      6. Reporting
        1. Status Reports
        2. Reporting Documents - list of pages tagged for reporting
        3. Automated Test Result Reports
      7. Steakholder Registry
    2. Experience Design
      1. Unique Experiences
        1. Unique Experience Specification
      2. Component Catalog
        1. Component Group
          1. Component Specification
      3. Content Hierarchy
      4. Dialogs - Shared Dialogs
      5. Frameworks - Design Frameworks listing
      6. Authoring Helpers
        1. Scaffolding - Forms that will be used by Authors
        2. Blueprints - Site templates
        3. Dashboards - Updates to Dashboards
        4. Reports
        5. Authoring UI Updates
      7. Styles - General Styles applied to all components
      8. Tag Namespaces - Tagging for Content
      9. Dictionaries - Labels for component
      10. Templates - Available Templates
      11. Workflows - Workflows to be built
      12. Error Pages - Error pages that will appear
      13. Translations - Translations to be used
      14. Selectors - Selectors available
      15. Services - Services available
      16. Accessibility
      17. Browsers and Devices
    3. Platform Design
      1. Architecture
        1. Solution Description - provides a overview of whole solution
        2. Logical Architecture
        3. Physical Architecture
        4. Service Architecture - service, data, interfaces
          1. Service Catalog
        5. Delivery Architecture - ci/cd cycles
        6. Content Architecture
        7. Information Architecture
        8. Testing Architecture
        9. Development Architecture
          1. Developer Setup
        10. Integration Architecture
        11. Quality Architecture
        12. Security Architecture
        13. Analytics Architecture
        14. Business Architecture
    4. Operations Design
      1. Content Migration
      2. Integrations Services
      3. Service Licensing
      4. Environment Config - service addresses
      5. Training Manual
      6. Vendor List
      7. Error Register
      8. Environments
      9. Groups and Permissions
      10. Workflows

This is not a prescriptive TOC and things should be added and removed as required.

Component Specification

Content specification is the single document which is used to describe the component to be build and all of the relevant information needed. From this document a developer can determine if the component can be built. The whole team spends their effort to ensure this document is in an acceptable state so that developers can carry out their work using this document as a guide.

The document covers these main areas

Management Authoring Design
User Stories Component Summary Component Hierarchy Acceptance Criteria Test Cases Authoring Dialogs - Design - Content Related - Tags - Dialogs Variants Badges Theme
Input From BA, PO, TS, DEV, DES Input From BA, DEV Input From BA, DEV, DES

Project Archetype

Recommended practice to build AEM projects is to use Apache Maven tool. To make it easier to create new project AEM.Design Archetype can be used and it will create you project that is ready to be used by authors.

Running following command will generate a sample project

mvn archetype:generate \
  -DarchetypeGroupId=design.aem \
  -DarchetypeArtifactId=aemdesign-archetype \
  -DarchetypeVersion=1.0.52 \
  -DgroupId=design.aem.projectx \
  -DgroupTitle="ProjectX" \
  -DartifactId=projectx \
  -DartifactTitle="ProjectX" \
  -DparentArtifactId=projectx-parent \
  -DparentArtifactName="ProjectX :: AEM :: parent" \
  -Dpackage=projectx \
  -DpackageGroup=projectx \
  -Dversion=0.1 \
  -DcomponentGroupTitle=MMAL \
  -DappsFolderName=projectx \
  -DcontentFolderName=projectx \
  -DconfFolderName=projectx \
  -DclientLibsFolderName=projectx \
  -DclassNamespace=design.aem.projectxm \

AEM.Design Archetype has the following modules and contents

Level 1 Level 2 Description
parent   parent for new projects
  {tenant}-aem-author contains all of the update to OOTB AEM Functionality
  {tenant}-aem-common contains all of the components for project
  {tenant}-aem-config contains all of the config content for repo
  {tenant}-aem-content initial seed content to be added to clean AEM instance, used only in development
  {tenant}-aem-deploy project for deploying project as one package
  {tenant}-aem-compose standard project for developing DLS and customer facing components
  {tenant}-aem-services all of the service code, bundle deo, helpers etc, anything that needs unit testing
  {tenant}-aem-showcase content used for demonstrating components during sprints
  {tenant}-aem-training content used for teaching Authors how to use components and build pages, see example
  {tenant}-testing automated functional testing scripts

At the high level an AEM project consist of Bundle and Content packages. Bundle package contains all the code that is required for the Application, it should contain any services, servlets and helper functions. Content package contains the configuration content, all the component configuration and code as well as Designs content. Its a best practice to divide projects into multiple project as soon as first release occurs. This help with maintenance, bug fixing and dependency management. It also creates a practice of ensuring that component and code does not become tightly coupled.

Project Concept to Creation

Knowledge Flow Map

The diagram below illustrates how a business concept flows through the necessary parties to get to the desired end state, which is a functional component that can be tested (and passed) on a showcase site, so that the business owner can utilize it in the organization’s production environment.

Project Knowledge Flow

The idea for Knowledge Management is to leverage co-learning patterns within the organisation. Doing this allows all participants to learn gradually and at the same time reflecting their learning outcomes into artifacts used as inputs to though the process.

Artifacts are sources of information that represent knowledge, and keeping these artifacts current is foundational for organisations. Within organisations, artifacts are used for training, education and inspiration, not having the latest information at hand creates lead to misinformed actions. Adopting a systemic process approach ensures that artifacts contain most relevant up to date information.

Following is a typical best case scenario flow from idea to implementation. This flow is formed around Co-Learn loops that enable learning feedback and shared artifact updates. This process of learning and persisting knowledge as information in shared artifacts enables systemic knowledge sharing, artifact update and feedback loops.

Co-Learning loop 1

A business owner establishes a new idea and consults a Training Suite to establish if that idea can be delivered using existing functionality. When a business owner is unable to determine if they have the capability for a specific function, they engage a Business Analyst.

Co-Learning loop 2

Business Analyst evaluates Training Suite and bases on existing knowledge establishes if the material needs to be updated to provide insight on how business owners idea can be achieved using existing functionality. Updating the Training Suite with relevant information allows this knowledge to be captured and enables a business owner to use that as a reference for their idea.

Co-Learning loop 3

When business analyst determines that based on their best experience and information available that additional feature may be required they engage a designer. The designer uses existing Concept Suite to determine if existing Design Language System already caters for a particular capability. Updates the Design Language System with relevant Unique Experiences that match requirements and provide Business Analyst with additional information to update Training Suite. When a Concept Suite does not have the required features that deliver requirements, the designer updates the Concept Suite with appropriate changes and then composes them into Compose Suite. This process ensures that design concept and its Language is persisted for Author (Business Owner) usage. Updating compose suite allows the author to leverage updated design elements for their new idea.

Co-Learning loop 4

When a Compose suite does not have structural components that needed to support design, a developer is engaged in providing insight on possibilities. A developer uses their knowledge and provides insight if existing functionality could meet the capability needed. When existing functionality does not exist a developer creates a needed component, creates component showcase pages and develops initial functional tests that prove that component works as per specified requirements. After these artifacts are created, the feature is deployed to production and the upstream artifacts are updated to match.

As you can see in all these co-learning cycles a process of finding knowledge, actioning it and providing feedback is facilitated by shared artifacts.

Following is a list of artifacts and their purpose:

  • Training Suite - this artifact is primary goto by the authoring community for learning on capabilities available. This artifact follows a typical training system capability, but its implemented in AEM, and only this allows it to be maintained by the community of authors as they learn the system capabilities. Ensuring that authors can maintain their own help manual is a crucial approach to education and ownership, as it ensures that the site is built from the same components that authors use on other sites. See the following link for a good example of how to do it well
  • Concept Suite - is an artifact used by designers to articulate an early version of the design system and present potential possibilities. Typically it starts off with having a design focus and then transitions into an actual Design Language System that is used to align overall experience for end-users and authors.
  • Compose Suite - is an artifact that helps to translate the design vision into a style and behaviour pattern based on AEM component models and represent design language into content that authors will use to author and create experiences in AEM. Its is the artifacts that compose the design and component structure with design language.
  • Component Suite - is the main component code artifact, it is used to represent component structure and models that are used by designers to create visual experiences, as well as an additional component that support author experiences.
  • Showcase Suite - is a demonstration of component functionality and design language. It’s used to demonstrate atomic functionality of components as well as their usage in Unique Experience, and it used to represent a Design Language System to authors. Most importantly, this artifact is responsible for providing the structure for automation testing, which is the primary mechanism for ensuring that components are operating as required.
  • Testing Suite - is the automation suite that contains all of the automation tests that prove component operation as well as provides a mechanism for regression testing.

These artifacts form kickstart of the AEM.Design framework that comes with over 90 components and matching design system blueprint, as well as a set of showcase content and tests and provides a demonstration of components. This ensures that the delivery team does not start from scratch and have a solid end-to-end delivery starting point ready for use.

Evolution of Artifacts

All artifacts on a project evolve over time and give input in other artifacts.

Project Artifact Flow

Idea behind each artifact is to provide input into other artifacts and be useful for more than one purpose.

Development Flow

This is a high level flow for development cycles

Project Development Flow

  • Build Deploy Test: Developers work on local environment which is a replicate of target production, using same codebase as build server and performs all Build, Deploy and Test functions on local instances of AEM using docker containers.

  • Dependency Resolution: Local Developers build environment uses centralised Maven repository to resolve dependencies in Build cycle

  • Commit: Developers code is commit code to Code repository

  • Tracing: Code is linked to Stories by Story ID added to each commit

  • Trigger: Each commit triggers a Build Test Deploy cycle on the Automation server

  • Build Tracking: Build tracking is reported into Jira

  • Build Artifact Storage: Build Artifacts are stored in Jira to be used in Depoy cycles

  • Build Test: Automated testing of Code is performed after Build an before Deploy cycle

  • Build Analysts: Automated Code Quality review is performed after Build an before Deploy cycle

  • Deploy: Deploy cycle is triggered automatically and manually to a defined environment

Content Migration

When migrating from legacy CMS plaforms you will be challanged to migrate content into AEM. To migrate content into AEM you can follow either manual or automated process.

Following diagram demonstartes how an automated process should be developed. This methiod should be executed in parallel with the project that is developing component catalog.

Content Migration

Typicaly content migration start right at the start of the project to allow enough time to understand source data and transform it into AEM content. Where possible migrate content data into Content Fragments and use workflows to create pages using a Content Fragment Page Generation workflow this will allow you to separate your content from pages. This will also enable you to change your page layout later once you have developed all of your components, as you can re-create all of your pages.


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