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Quick Take Review: SDL Tridion R5 Web Content Management System

sdl tridion cms review

What is Tridion? Or is it Trillian, Trideon or Tridian? What can we say, itís tough being a Euro web content management vendor in the U.S. market.

After conquering most of Europe, SDL Tridion started its Web CMS quest in the U.S. in 2006 with their flagship CMS product — Tridion R5 — an offering that has received accolades from such critics as analyst firm, Gartner. R5 comes with a myriad of standard Web CMS features, like inline editing using SiteEdit and some unique functionality such as the Translation Manager.

This Quick Take Review is an overview of SDL Tridion R5.2 with a detailed summary, full of “meat,” at the tail end of this article.

SDL Tridion R5 Basics

Vendor Name: SDL Tridion
Product Name: SDL Tridion R5
Product Category: Enterprise Web CMS
Typical Scenario: SDL Tridion R5 is typically a choice for multilingual and marcomm websites

Company & Product History

SDL Tridion — simply ďTridionĒ at the time— was founded in 1999 and is headquartered in Amsterdam, Netherlands, with offices in the UK, France, Germany, Belgium, Spain and Sweden.

In 2007, Tridion was acquired for Ä69 million by SDL, a leading provider of Global Information Management (GIM) solutions.

The oldest version of the product is R3, as far as anyone can remember. It was followed by a number of new releases, including the latest R5.3 that was launched at the end of 2007. Its most commonly used predecessor is R5.2 SP1. However, some customers, who have to date been unwilling to brave the upgrade pains, are still running on R4.

SDL Tridionís strengths lie in multilingual/multi-site support using the productís BluePrinting feature. Tridion R5 is recognized as leading Content Management Solution by Forrester, Butler and Gartner.

R5 separates Content Management from Content Delivery. Content management products include:

  • Content Manager Explorer — main interface
  • SiteEdit — inline editing interface
  • WebDAV Connector — access to content via Windows Explorer
  • Word Connector — allows users to create content in MS Word

Content Delivery products include:

  • Presentation Servers — machines where published content resides
  • Dynamic Content Broker — assembles dynamic pages

Additionally, thereís a range of such tools as:

  • Archive Manager
  • Content Porter
  • Business Connector
  • Content Distributor

Market & Pricing

SDL Tridion R5ís target market is mostly concentrated around interactive marketing, marketing and communications sites and global enterprises with multiple language support requirements.

Price Range

Given the fact that SDL Tridionís pricing model can be very complex, it is hard to pinpoint a typical deal price. It may vary greatly depending on the package, which at the very least includes three environments (development, test and production), several Presentation Servers, Content Broker, Content Porter and named user licenses — for content authors, developers, system administrators, etc.

The license also specifies a limit on the number of CPUs on each machine where the product is installed and features like BluePrint depth, Complex Schema support, binary document search support and Workflow support.

And this is without optional modules like multilingual interfaces, Communications Statistics, Word Connector, Translation Manager or WebForms. There are about a dozen of language packs you can add to your package, including Japanese, Spanish, Dutch, German, French and others — all with native spell-checkers.

Customer support, new releases and maintenance fees are usually around 20% of the entire package price and are charged annually.

Depending on the time of a given fiscal year, you can expect to cash out anywhere from US$ 80,000 to Ö sky is the limit. Locating a sales representative should be easy, as there are several SDL Tridion sales offices in APAC, EMEA, North America, South Africa, etc.

The highly recommended engagement of SDL Tridion Professional Services for technical training and implementation support will cost you another ďpenny,Ē depending on the level of your consultantís expertise and the length of engagement. Braving your way through a typical tech training module will take about five full days.

Partner Network

Numerous implementation partners worldwide include:

For a complete list, go here.


There are around 500 SDL Tridion customers in the world, including big shots like Ricoh, Lexus, Toyota, KLM, Canon, Renault, Alitalia, Emirates Airlines and Scania. Their North American customer base includes AIG, MetLife and Hanley Wood, among others.

Product Root / Original Business Problem

For a European vendor located on the crossroads of various countries speaking different languages, it was a logical choice for Tridion in its early days to concentrate on the localization and globalization sides of web content management.

Since the emergence of Internet as a global communication tool, there evolved a need for technology that could facilitate localization and better cross-market, global communication. Corporate branding strategy often required the message and look-and-feel consistency for corporate websites spread out around the world (e.g., Toyota, KLM).

This is where Tridion found its niche and developed a product with strong localization support through the CMS and the BluePrinting technology that facilitates sharing and re-use of common content and design elements across multiple sites.

Soon after the acquisition by SDL, the company released Translation Manager v2.0 in 2008. This product integrates with SDL Translation Management System (SDL TMS) and the SDL Tridion R5 CMS, enabling users to send content stored in the R5ís Content Manager to SDL TMS for translation.

Key Features and Ratings

Here, we will outline the key features of SDL Tridion R5. In each section, you will find product ratings between 1 and 5 — 1 being poor and 5 being excellent. For a summary of features and ratings, refer to the Review Summary section at the end.

Product Core Technology

Rating: 3/5

SDL Tridion R5 works in both Microsoft .NET and Java/J2EE environments via WebServices using the SOAP protocol.

SDL Tridion R5 supports Java and COM APIs. The latter is actually TOM (Tridion Object Model), based on COM. In 1999, it was all Perl.

Oracle, Microsoft SQL Server and IBM DB2

UNIX, J2EE or Microsoft .NET, IBM WebSphere, BEA WebLogic and Microsoft Internet Information Server (IIS)

Supported browsers:
Microsoft Internet Explorer 6.0+ and 7.0+

Languages and protocols:

  • VBScript, XSLT, JavaScript, J2EE
  • Static and dynamic HTML, JSP, ASP and ASP .NET pages and/or XML/XSLT fragments
  • Several protocols are supported, including FTP, SFTP, HTTP and HTTPS.

Content Entities

Rating: 3/5

SDL Tridionís famous Building Blocks represent the core of this WCM solution. Building Blocks are Component and Page Templates, Component Presentations, Components, Pages and Schemas.

SDL Tridion R5 Building Blocks

Content authors usually create Components based on certain Schemas (which define permissible content fields), followed by combining those Components with appropriate Component Templates, thus, creating Component Presentations.


Creating a new Component in R5


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