A Daunting Task
Adobe Experience Manager (AEM, formerly Adobe CQ) is both broad and deep, which can make it seem difficult for newcomers to adopt. Having worked in AEM for approximately a year, I’ve recently struggled with this myself, and wanted to share with you some of the things I’ve learned along the way.
Adobe Experience Manager is really a collection of tools and systems that, when working together properly as a whole, can deliver a unique content management system tailored to your organization’s needs. Some of these entities are open source technologies—JCR, Sling, Bamboo, Apache Jackrabbit, OSGi Alliance, Dispatcher—while others are proprietary technologies: Sidekick, Content Finder, CRX, and many more. As you begin your organization’s implementation of AEM, it’s also an opportunity to evaluate your adoption of—or to revisit your implementation of—the many Adobe Marketing Cloud services that can work in conjunction with Adobe Experience Manager, such as Analytics, Search&Promote, Target, Dynamic Tag Manager, Audience Manager, Dynamic Media, and Scene7.
Getting Your Feet Wet
At the outset of your project, this can seem daunting. The impressive array of new systems and tools can leave any developer wondering where to start. You should plan on spending a significant amount of your initial introduction to the project reading and searching through the Official AEM Documentation. Unfortunately, as useful as the documentation can be, there are some complications that can arise. Out-of-date, incorrect, and undocumented content can lead to a frustrating introduction to the product, and since many of these components may be new to you, you may not even know the nomenclature that would prompt you with what you should be searching.
Supplementing the Documentation
Thankfully, there are a number of alternatives you can make use of when stymied by the official documentation.
- Stack Overflow AEM Results: This community resource has its strengths and weaknesses. A strength of Stack Overflow is how active the community is. There is a genuine eagerness to help from its huge user base. However, this does not guarantee the accuracy or quality of the answers provided. Anyone can claim exceptional AEM knowledge here without any verification.
- Adobe Communities: Hosted and moderated by Adobe, this community is a designated place to ask AEM-specific questions. This is an excellent way to get assistance from an official AEM representative. This community is precise, and might use very low-level terms that you might not be familiar with yet.
- LinkedIn’s CQ5 Professionals community: Sometimes questions are asked and answered here, though the general presence of this community seems geared for connecting employers with Adobe Experience Manager developers. Or you can see Axis41’s LinkedIn page with AEM content from this blog and other sources.
- CQ-OPS: This blog features AEM-specific implementations and highlights solutions. These exact solutions might not solve current problems you’re struggling with, but studying these will help you learn the many aspects of Adobe Experience Manager.
- Things on a Content Management System: Another blog resource that covers patterns and procedures strictly in relation to AEM.
If you’re sensing a strong theme of community-oriented resources, that’s not a fluke; it’s not uncommon to hear someone equate AEM development with tribal knowledge, where the only real way to effectively gain understanding is by getting in personal contact with someone who has already learned the hard lessons. This is why Axis41 has set up AEM Meetups, a place where people interested in sharing tricks, tips, and tools can gather and share knowledge. At these meetings, there will be Axis41 team members with years of Adobe Experience Manager experience, as well as representatives from Adobe to present on features and procedures.
Despite these challenges, AEM is a powerful content management system that centralizes all aspects of building and marketing websites, mobile apps, and forms. Learning the ins and outs of AEM programming can be daunting, but with several avenues of knowledge at your disposal, you will be more prepared to tackle the tough issues and become successful.