An Insider's Guide to #TDS2019: Everything You Need to Know (and More)

By Josh Hebb

Earlier this month we participated in the 2019 Tridion Developer Summit where we got to network with leading tech giants while simultaneously getting an in-depth, insider’s look at SDL’s roadmap to existing updates and upcoming features.

Here’s the rundown of our key learnings and highlights from #TDS2019.

SDL Tridion Sites 9.5 is scheduled for release in June 2020 and we could not be more excited. Tridion has really gone all out with this update and 9.5 includes a number of major features.

Off With Their Heads

One of the more recent evolutions in the content management space has been the introduction of the headless (or “content first”) CMS category. SDL first introduced GraphQL API in Sites 9, which brought with it the first iteration of headless content pushed out from Tridion. During TDS2019, SDL announced a few super innovative concepts we’ll see in Sites 9.5.

Strongly Typed Models

You can say sayonara to those pesky Component and Page Templates. Don’t panic, they’re not going anywhere immediately, but the idea is that these newer implementations will render the templates null.

So, what’s replacing the Component and Page Templates?

Strongly Typed Models will be published and consumed via configuration on the presentation side. Since Strongly Typed Models will be programming-language agnostic, they can therefore be used across many presentation-side implementations.

We know what you’re thinking – this seems very much like a move towards a headless architecture where content is considered and seen purely as content where the presentation of said content is written into the coding logic. And you’re right. This concept is driven heavily by classification and surfacing of content instead of placing static content on specific pages. The possibilities this change brings are very exciting.

Changes in SDL’s Publishing/Delivery Pipeline + Strongly Types Models

We’ll see a revamp of the SDL deployment architecture to introduce a “Deployer V3” and the concept of a pipeline, which hints at replacing the traditional relational/transactional database.

This change will also contain improvements and make use of ElasticSearch to speed up deployment. This is one area to watch very closely as it is quite a large-scale architectural change.

Federated Search

Pushing Tridion content into a query index such as SOLR has long been the responsibility of the implementer. Popular frameworks such as SI4T made it easy to push content from Tridion into indexers such as SOLR, ElasticSearch, etc. With Sites 9.5,­­­ SDL is introducing a built-in federated search which will make it even easier to add search capabilities to a Tridion implementation. If that isn’t something to celebrate, we don’t know what is.

New Content Manager GUI 

Tridion Sites 9.5 will see a modernised redesign of the CM graphical user interface (GUI).

For a CX/creative perspective on this, check out this blog by our Senior Design Consultant.

On the technical side, Anguilla’s new user interface focuses on improving the editor’s daily experience and will run side-by-side the existing UI. So Anguilla, the Core Service, and existing extensions (including GUI extensions and ECL providers) will all continue to run in an upgrade for now.

All of that to say, upgrading customers have a lot to gain, without losing anything. Who wouldn’t like that?

Caching has been exponentially enhanced to speed up the CME. We caught the demo during TDS and were definitely impressed.

SDL Experience Manager (XPM) has been given a similarly fresh new look and the speed has significantly improved due to caching enhancements. It’s also easier to navigate and much more intuitive. We especially loved the look and features of the newly improved Rich Text Field editor in both Forms and XPM view.

Sidenote: The Experience Optimisation Targeting area will eventually get the new styling but the features will remain the same as previous versions, though there is a possibility that this may change and the area will be enhanced with future upgrades.

SDL Tridion Integration Framework

Some of the presentations we saw were based around the framework released in SDL Tridion Sites 9.1. This upgrade was added as a way to allow implementers to write and deploy connectors for mashing up SDL Tridion Sites content with third-party frameworks.

The recommendation is to use this over SDL’s previous ECL (external content library) framework. ECL continues to work and now functions as an Application Client that uses the Integration Framework. Surely you’ll find multiple uses for this in your implementations, which is why we recommend that you not only jump on board but tinker with it too.

SDL provides the following connectors, all of which can be installed for a fee:

We’re looking forward to seeing the release and support for future community written connectors.

SDL Tridion Docs

This was a major topic on the agenda. We aren’t covering this extensively just yet, but here is the timeline presented to us by SDL in the meantime:

  • Tridion Docs 14 SP1 — End of 2019
  • Tridion Docs 14 SP2 — Spring 2020
  • Tridion Docs 15 — Early 2021

“One SDL”

“One SDL” is SDL’s demo platform that runs Tridion Sites, Tridion Docs, DXA, XPM, World Server, Tridion integration Framework, its connectors, and many more.

We think it’s especially worth noting how useful this is to clients and vendors when moving into a new product. This can greatly improve our availability when it comes to fully functioning example suites.


GraphQL was huge this year! Why and how? Well, first of all it seems as if all the services are moving towards GraphQL as the driver for the connections/interactions.

Additionally, due to the introduction of the Strongly Typed Models in the new publishing pipeline, it’s going to be even easier to consume Tridion content through GraphQL as Tridion moves towards a headless content approach. This is a big one to learn if you’re not yet familiar with the concepts.


Dyndle is the latest evolvement in the DD4T roadmap. This development kit, on top of DD4T, provides an out-of-the-box framework for having your site up in a matter of hours instead of weeks. Sounds like DXA, doesn’t it? Well you’re right in that it’s similar, except for that there is a separate framework. You can expect much more information on DD4T in the upcoming months.

This evolvement is based on the reality that customers are still choosing DD4T as their implementation framework because they enjoy the benefits of having full control over  their implementations.

Bear in mind that Dyndle is only available for .Net. However, DD4T active development has resumed, so the Java world still benefits from DD4T support and future core framework enhancements. The downside is that the Java folks won’t get this additional kick-starter framework.

Can you spot the Content Bloomers?

We have so much more to share with you, so keep your eyes peeled (and on our social media pages) for updates. There are some seriously interesting presentations coming your way.

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SDL, Tridion