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David Strachan
Director of Engineering, HCL Digital Experience
About
David is the Director of Engineering for Digital Experience at HCL. Over the last 20 years, David has held a range of positions related to this field, both in IBM and consulting organizations. He has led architecture and implementations of Digital Experience at customers all over the world, as well as working in product management and sales.
Posts by David Strachan
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Digital Solutions | August 4, 2020
HOT DAM! What’s Next? A Q&A with David Strachan, Director of Engineering
To digitize business critical experiences, you need not only flexibility, security and power, but also the ability for your business users to create engaging content. HCL recently released exciting new capabilities to its platform, that helps empower users to create compelling experiences, improving the bottom line and customer satisfaction. We interviewed the person behind the constant development, iteration, and improvements to HCL Digital Experience to get the inside scoop on the latest updates in the latest release, as well as a window into what is coming soon. In June, we released a reinvented Content Composer and a new (free) Digital Asset Management (DAM) capability. You can learn about all of that by watching this video:   We talked to David to find out what’s been added since. Q: What do new rendering and versioning capabilities mean for content creators?  A: When an image is added, the tool now auto-generates multiple renderings suitable for each of the universal screen sizes and device dimensions of desktops, tablets, and smart phones — saving time and improving accuracy. Also, the version history of each image is now preserved, letting you revert back to previous versions as needed. These capabilities were added to the DAM in our July release and there's more to come in the August and September releases too, including the addition of versioning support in Content Composer.    Q: How is media (images and video) now managed in the DAM?   A: Media is stored in collections (which act as folders), and these collections can be nested. Collections have assigned role-based access and permissions so access to the media can be controlled on a collection-by-collection basis. Media is usually published via content, so the workflow is handled at the content level. DX content management leverages the renditions so your content will look great on all devices.  Q: Is it easier to search and find assets in the DAM? Is metadata stored?  A: Yes. You can search by title, date and metadata. Basic metadata is automatically added, but you can and should add additional, more robust and descriptive metadata to boost SEO, as well as store rights information, photographer or videographer credits, and make finding assets even easier.   Q: How is this native DAM better than others out there?   A: Well, for one...
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April Update: What’s New in HCL Digital Experience
April is upon us and with that another round of feature releases for HCL Digital Experience. We are now releasing new and exciting features every month, so keep an eye out for more announcements like these. This release is packed with updates to improve development flexibility, content creation, and integrations. Check out the five new features and enhancements below, and be sure to let us know what you think.  1. We have expanded the WCM APIs available to cover additional scenarios that our customers will find valuable. The additional APIs enable developers to restore content versions, apply content templates, modify content template settings, and to export and modify links to Digital Asset Management (DAM) resources. 2. We are excited to launch the first preview of our brand-new DAM. This is a major new feature for managing web-ready images, videos, and documents — from within HCL DX. In this preview release you can upload and organize assets and use them in content items. All of the capabilities in the DAM are also available in our Experience API. Every month, we’ll be building on this with new features. 3. We are just as excited to launch the first preview of our new Content Composer. This is a completely reimagined user interface for our web content-management capability, designed to make using DX much easier. In this initial preview, we are focused on enhancing management operations for content and templates, covering the most commonly used element types. As with the DAM, we will also be building on this with new features every month. 4. Both DAM and Content Composer are built on our new API layer, Experience API. All of the features in their user interfaces are available in Experience API, as are the WCM APIs we added in this release. We are moving to an API-first approach, meaning that the product’s capabilities are defined by the API. This makes it much easier for customers to programmatically access HCL DX capabilities. Transparent programmatic access means no more internal APIs...
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HCL Digital Experience and the future of WebSphere Application Server
What we are doing with WAS? HCL is bringing renewed energy to Digital Experience, as we add new capabilities and move to a much more aggressive release schedule. Customers often ask what we are going to do with IBM® WebSphere® Application Server (WAS) and the purpose of this post is to explain what we intend to do. Customers around the world have entrusted HCL Digital Experience with their business critical workloads for 20 years. WAS clustering provides a rock-solid foundation for that, and as a result unplanned outages are very rare and performance is consistently excellent. We are not going to treat that lightly or recklessly. What is rock solid, but flexible? That said, our customers are also asking us for a less monolithic approach to HCL Digital Experience (DX). Many of them are investing in Kubernetes as the runtime environment of the next decade. We are responding to that demand with the support for Kubernetes that we released in HCL DX v9.5 and enhanced subsequently.  HCL's strategy is to provide a gradual approach, in order to minimize disruption for our customers, while enabling new runtime architectures as quickly as possible. When we released HCL Digital Experience 9.5 in September 2019, we announced that it would be supported for at least another five years. This means customers can continue to run their WAS clustered environments during this time, and we will continue to enhance it.  In this release, we added a supported option to run the product in a Kubernetes environment, such as Red Hat's OpenShift or Amazon EKS. More Kubernetes platforms will follow, driven by customer demand. Existing applications will run on this platform, and most customers should be able simply to redeploy their applications using the staging-to-production workflow.  Existing portlets and themes will also still run in Kubernetes...
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Continuous delivery with HCL Digital Experience drives steady stream of new benefits to customers
Rapid deployment for faster results When we released HCL Digital Experience 9.5 in September 2019, one of the most important features was support for a fully containerized deployment. This provides our customers with more flexibility, and allows HCL to explore new deployment and delivery models for the product.  Updating images is much easier than applying maintenance, or updating a release, to a traditional deployment. To that end, we are going to switch up the pace for the HCL Digital Experience Docker images that we ship. Our new cadence will be to ship an update every two sprints — that's approximately every four weeks.  We are modernizing our development methods to keep on track with market demands and help our customers deliver more capabilities to their audiences faster. For our customers: We can ship new features earlier and in more manageable chunks. Through participation in our development process, it also means customers will be able to see the results of their feedback more quickly. Customers have told us they want to drive new capabilities —and we are happy to oblige. For HCL: Monthly deliveries reinforce our agile processes (see this post) and force us to automate things we'd otherwise just live with. This will help us drive up quality even higher. Monthly deliveries help teams focus on getting things done — as the saying goes, 100% of four features is worth a lot more than 80% of five features. Also, we'll learn more from customer feedback, earlier, than if we delivered less frequently.   Not ready for containers? For customers who use the traditional WebSphere Application Server architecture, we will continue to ship "cumulative fixes" (CFs) approximately twice per year. Since 2014, these CFs have provided a stream of backwards compatible updates.  This has reduced the effort and risk involved in updating for new fixes...
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Are your practitioners armed with the tools they need to create digital experiences that users demand?
Don’t you hate it when you’re trying to create an attractive marketing page, or a powerful web experience, and the tools just seem to get in your way?  Do you need to create an attractive marketing page, but the backend tools are lacking? Are you frustrated looking for skilled resources to manage and create the experiences? We can help. HCL DX 9.5 features a new, consolidated user interface called “Practitioner Studio” and a completely new demonstration site called “Woodburn Studio”. Between them, these provide a modernized and consolidated landing page for authors and site administrators.  Why does this matter?  Well, the new Practitioner Studio brings together all of our tools –content creation, site management, personalization, and admin capabilities – into a single, convenient workspace.   Our existing customers will find that navigation needed to accomplish common tasks in HCL DX are streamlined and intuitive, and it makes it much easier for new users to learn how to use the product and get new content published in minutes. Need a way to get your creative juices flowing?  Great news – we have also built a new demonstration site called “Woodburn Studio.”  This site is a gorgeous demonstration of the product’s capabilities and will provide a good foundation to extend our range of demonstrations and samples in the future. Taken together, these capabilities are a first step towards a much more extensive modernization of the HCL DX user interface.  This will help provide a faster time to market for the digital experiences for all of your audiences, as well as help empower business users.  Now you have the most powerful DX platform on the market – with an upgraded practitioner experience to match. Creating, managing, and publishing memorable experiences more effectively has never been easier. Join us at our DX Inspire v9.5 launch...
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