First Impression: Telligent Starter Kit

Marco Tana Marco Tana
January 25, 2013
Sitecore , Web Development , Web Strategy

It's amazing when best-of-breed applications come together to form a solution. The Telligent platform and Sitecore are a perfect match to provide a holistic solution for organizations that have:

  • large support initiatives
  • memberships and partners
  • collaboration opportunities
  • intranets

We actually had experience integrating the two when we incorporated community features for the Newspaper Association of America (http://www.naa.org) website a few years back. Back then, the platform was called “Community Server” and was in transition to what you see now. It may have even been before data providers came to fruition. So, single-sign on was complex as well as account creation to ensure that the full system was synchronized (not to mention, we had an association membership system to account for as well). Now, Sitecore has taken the leap in providing us easier tools and techniques to integrate the two.

You essentially have two options when deploying the solution:
  1. As separate sites, where the Sitecore CMS part of the solution contains mostly references (or links) to a skinned accessible Telligent Community website
  2. As Sitecore-driven, where all Community content is rendered through Sitecore by consuming Telligent Community content

Putting a lot of the integration settings and UI assets on Sitecore automatically opens a world of flexibility. For instance, allowing us to define the routes on how URLs map to Telligent Community content is key to having SEO-friendly URLs. Another is being able to create our own set of UI widgets. This actually makes it possible for Page Editor to work with Telligent assets without sacrificing usability, security, or control.

I worked with the solution when it first came out and after seeing the presentation from Jon Allen of Telligent, it seems that a lot of kinks have been fixed. I haven't had a chance to play with the new one, but here are some things that I had pet peeves about, and will hopefully help to improve the product:

- when updating a widget, Sitecore doesn't recognize that the page changed, thus the save button is disabled; I had to "fake" update some other content to be able to push the save button

- the widgets outputs its own jQuery which can sometimes affect sites that may have complex non-Flash interactive elements; I know it's needed for Telligent's own editing UI, but it does pose a problem

- the default name exposed for a new Community user has the "extranet" domain which is from Sitecore; because Sitecore's usernames are domain-based, I'm not sure if anything can be done here as CMS users can also have Community accounts; it's just weird to see that if I signed in with my Facebook account through Social Connect, I wouldn't expect to see "extranet" in front of my username

So that's not much. I'm hoping to play a bit more on the new version as well as the new demo system when it becomes available. I do need to note that documentation is still a bit sparse and if you do find them, it can be a bit confusing because of the versions. For instance, if you go to SDN and click on the 7.0 version's documentation, it takes you to the Community 6 Telligent Connect for Sitecore documentation even if the product is meant for Community 7.0. Although it's very similar, you can easily get lost. I'm hoping that Telligent (or Sitecore) can fix this soon.

All in all, I'm very excited with the product. With Telligent making itself more accessible for Sitecore customers, it should be a great addition to existing Sitecore websites. Organizations have long realized the value of communities both in product development, marketing, and sales. Now, it will be easier and even more affordable for them to incorporate it. Kudos to the Telligent and Sitecore teams for making this happen.

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