Blog

 

 

The Magnolia CMS Associate Developer Certificate is live. We just haven't made a big deal of it. For now we are gathering data on who wants to take the exam. The results of this will determine how we fine-tune the official, 'official' launch. If the stars align, this should be in mid January.

And if the stars don't align?                                                                                 

It will still be mid January and I will ensure that you can pay for the exam using an invoice based system as opposed to simply inserting your credit card details and signing up. Some of you may even get the take the exam with a hefty discount - just for being early on the uptake and showing your support for an initiative that took a good deal of coordination and effort. But first you need to show an interest. (smile)  And you can do that here.

I don't like clicking links without seeing the URL.                                                                                                                                                                                           

It is safe - it just takes you to a page on corp web that looks like this:

You insert your details. You get a brief  'thank you'. And then we will contact you. As always, feel free to write to me at academy@magnolia-cms.com Not to apply for the test, but about Academy and whatever. I am happy to answer reasonable questions.

Can I rant?

Rants are acceptable - but if only if you have a better alternative to whatever is annoying you. (smile)

Cool. Now remind me what the Associate Developer Cert means?

"The cert provides a minimum assurance that you understand the basics of Magnolia CMS. You can begin working on a Magnolia CMS project as a member of a team of developers." See the Academy page: Magnolia Certification Program

Has anybody taken the exam yet?             

Yes they have. Different versions in fact. We recently opened an office in Vietnam and we have used the ADC exam as a means of testing how even our own developers are getting on. And we have tested the exam out on joe public too. Feedback from 'testing the test' has been invaluable to ensuring that it accurately meets our requirements.

Is it really, really hard?

No, but it is really, really fair. It will only be really, really hard if you haven't gone through Academy and Official Documentation. And it will be incredibly hard if you haven't even downloaded the system and started trying to create some templates, do some basic app configuration (HINT).

What kind of questions can I expect?                                                                                                                                                                                    

You can be sure that they will not be of the sort-

'What is the dominant colour of the Magnolia CMS UI?"  A - Indigo, B - Green, C- Blue

They might be more along the lines of -

'What two properties does a template definition require?' A - x & y,  B - m & q, C - a & b  

And where is Magnolia Academy at these days?

Academy still remains one of our powerhouse resources. 8k page views a month. Average session is 7.30 mins, which is where it leveled off after an all time high of over 8.30 mins.

I'm not interested in stats, you can spin those any way you want; I am interested in content. Has much changed?                             

Yes, the Academy has undergone massive structural changes. Too many to mention here. And now it is going to change again.

Oh? o_0   

One of the insights gained from analyzing the exam results and feedback is that people need to learn more templating. So that is exactly where my focus is going to be. You will see the results of this at the end of the week of Monday 8th December.                       

Right now the Templating course looks like this.

                                           

It's only going to be an interim solution - but it is a start and it will lead a lot more in the new year.

So what is the pipeline for the new year?                                                                                                                                                                                                             

In 2015 Academy gets a revamp and part of that revamp is that we are going back to the conceptual roots. The original Academy plan was to show you how to build a wesbite from scratch. Some of the existing content is going to the grave, some of it is staying. Alongside tried and trusted material will be a series of videos all about a single sample website.  

Single, sample website... So finally the videos will be connected ?

That is the idea.                                 

Nice.

Starting with Maven and working our way through template definitions, template scripts, model classes, site definition creation - all the way through actual web site setup, you will learn all of the core front and backend mechanisms in Magnolia CMS including apps for content data. That is promise. And as with the whole Academy project and as with Certification - we will deliver. 

There may be another blog before the new year. If not, have a peaceful Christmas - and thanks for hanging in there!

Gavan Stockdale

Product Manager for Online Services

Magnolia Academy

http://www.magnolia-cms.com/services/certification.html

(star) 

Getting the basics right

It was clear; no-one liked the word 'basic'. After much discussion someone said 'it should be called Associate Developer Certificate'. Good call. That's exactly what it is. You can be a rocket-hot Java meister and yet still be an associate developer in a particular technology that employs Java. Moral? If you are new to Magnolia CMS 5 and want to prove that you have a good handle on  - 

  • General knowledge
  • Project setup
  • UX & Apps
  • Templating
  • STK & Site setup

 - you need to get an Associate Developer Certificate. Sign up here.

 

 

But wait, I have been working with Magnolia CMS for years! Why would I want a cert that says I only know x? 

First off, the cert doesn't mean that you only know x. It means that at least you know x. It is a self standing claim. If you want to add all the projects you have worked on to your CV, that is great. In 2015 (i.e. - just around the corner) that project work will stand to you and you can make the next official step up. Claims such as 'I have been working with Magnolia for years' are misleading. We are at 5.3 and soon 5.4. This is a new departure - one with apps, personalization and a wealth of expanded tools. Bottom line  -  even if you an expert Magnolia CMS developer, you should still hold an Associate Developer Certificate as this will enable you to get further recognition - recognition that we know you deserve.

Thanks for your continued support!

Gavan

 Learn more       Get certified        Contact me 



Scenario

Evaluating Magnolia CMS

Who?

A multinational embarking on the relaunch of its regional web sites.

Issue?

IT management is evaluating a handful of enterprise level content management systems. Besides cost, key considerations are ease of integration with existing systems and ease of use for editorial and administration tasks. Members of the technical team are assisting.

Stakeholders?

Key management figures have participated in a face-to-face demonstration of Magnolia CMS, but need the technical team to evaluate the system hands-on without committing to a commercial license agreement. Good technical awareness of the advantages of using an open suite Java-based system means that Magnolia CMS is a strong contender. Everyone knows there is nothing like hands on experience to see the real power of a system.

Solution?

The technical team downloads and starts working with Magnolia CMS EE bundle. The EE bundle provides full access to all of the features of Magnolia CMS - with no licensing commitment after the 30 day trial.

Result?

Given one month to evaluate Magnolia CMS from a technical, editorial and administrative perspective, the team submits a strong recommendation to consider Magnolia CMS as primary candidate. The evaluation team summarizes its evaluation as:

  • flexible API, offering high-integration capabilities;
  • modern, sleek easy-to-use interface - perfect for non technical editorial staff;
  • Java-based content repository;
  • use-case based, ready-to-use templates (STK);
  • app development capabilities, offering high configuration ops for administration and integration;
  • powerful personalization mechanism meaning different targets get different content.

Learn more: Magnolia Academy

Broad strokes

Magnolia Academy is officially a year old (more or less - see: Magnolia Academy is open). Much has changed since launch. Mainly content. (The Academy is a lot bigger than it was a year ago; as is Magnolia International.) One thing that hasn't changed is the goal of lowering the entry barrier to Magnolia and ensuring that devs can get working with Magnolia correctly, quickly. Sounds simple, but there are a lot of subtleties in the mix:

  • What does it mean to get working with Magnolia correctly?
  • Is it possible to set a standard for all projects where there is vast variation across those projects?
  • How do we ensure that someone will do what we advise them to do?

 

Recently we have been discussing the pros and cons to different approaches to a revised Certification program (see: Magnolia Academy Certification Program). Our aim is to go one step further than industry standards.

Some broad strokes:

1) Official limits

For some people Certs are badges. We are totally cool with that. You can wear our cert/badge with pride. But that's not our goal. If you use our cert to get a job, great! Our goal is to help ensure that when you get that job - you will try to do it well. A very important concept in all education is that Certification delineates the official limits of your knowledge. Once you know your limits, you are in a good place to push those limits further out. That comes with experience and/or further education.

2) Online training upfront

Magnolia Academy is free.That's a brave decision and it is not one that every company is willing to make. We give away our product too. You can get the CE edition of Magnolia CMS, right here: http://www.magnolia-cms.com/product/try/download.html

3) Target driven

We feel that defining what our new Certification program is setting out to achieve is the only honest approach. If we have to revise or restructure our training, so be it. It is a lot easier to do things the other way around. ("This is what we cover in training, therefore the Certs says you have a handle on x, y and z...." ) 

Easy ride

Up to now Academy has been given an easy ride. It started out small and largely as a POC (We only just took the word 'beta' off the logo.) We were happy to see people going in there, but we didn't know one year ago just how viable this would be. Encouraged by feedback (average time spent in Academy fluctuates around the 7 minute mark - and most visitors are returns), the goal now is to bolster Academy so that the even toughest critics can step back and feel confident in the content. (By the way, those critics work in Magnolia International. I am one.)

When our revised Certification program is in place - you can be sure that it will not be a Cert for the sake of a Cert. Which means that Academy also has to step up to meet the mark. One year down the line - and once again, Academy is go...

Oh, I almost forgot - the conference is just around the corner. From the line up, it looks like this year's will be the strongest so far. Check out our conference page and if you haven't already gotten a ticket, its not too late. Here is the program: http://www.magnolia-cms.com/conference/program.html

Gavan

Magnolia Academy reflects much of the training that is provided at face to face training sessions. The goal now is to provide a certification mechanism that will allow distance learners to prove that they have the requisite knowledge and skills to work on Magnolia CMS projects as qualified developers. At present most of the relevant content is covered in:

Work is ongoing to improve this content and to add more relevant exercises.

Even at present, if you can do the tasks covered in these courses, you are in a good position to try for developer certification. This is a parallel project to face to face training. The Academy will continue to provide tutorials that fall outside the scope of standard training - and it will continue to provide services for Magnolia International that fall well outside training remit.

What is the testing mechanism?

As discussed in the last blog, the testing mechanism could be either a real life project built to a set of specifications - or a set of multiple questions and answers designed to guarantee that a learner has accurately understood the concepts and can apply them. A third option is to base the testing on a case by case basis. Your feedback on this is welcome.

What is the certification goal?

We have spent a good deal of time producing an enterprise grade CMS that provides a huge range of integration ops for even the most ambition web experience management projects. But with flexibility comes risk. Our goal now is to ensure that clients know how to work with Magnolia CMS correctly. Healthy projects mean reduced demand on support - and happier clients. Over time our Services and Support departments have realized that one of the best ways to ensure successful projects in the long run is to ensure that projects are built to best practices in the short term. (Look after the little things and the big things... )

But who are our clients? Companies that purchase Magnolia CMS?

Not necessarily.

A client is anyone that works with Magnolia CMS. And the people that work with Magnolia on a deep level are developers. End users may not see the complexity of a project - and even the purchasing department may only really see the final result. But these are not the people that will be requiring support or making queries on our Forum.

So how do we move forward?

Right now all of the Academy is freely accessible to anyone. You don't even need to sign in. This is something we may need to reconsider going forward. One of the reasons for a possible change is that the Academy contains a lot of high-value content that we feel may be under appreciated unless presented in a manner that reflects the effort and resources that are going into providing it. To get a better understanding of the value that we put on our training resources, please see: http://www.magnolia-cms.com/services/training.html

If you would like to have a say, please contact me soon at academy@magnolia-cms.com

Thanks,

Gavan Stockdale

Magnolia Academy

certificate

Line breaks: cer¦tifi|cate
 

"A document confirming that someone has reached a certain level of achievement in a course of study or training: a university-accredited certificate."

Source: http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/certificate


'Magnolia Academy Certification Program'. Sounds cool. What's it all about?

The idea is to continue to provide free online training and from there ensure that professional users of Magnolia can receive official accreditation.

What's the format?

Two obvious options for now:

  • Create a Magnolia CMS project from scratch using web specifications that we provide. Upload the project to a special Git repository. We assess and evaluate the work and award accreditation according to a points system.
  • Set up a multiple choice question set divided into tasks. The goal is still to set up a project - but this time a theoretical one. Again, a points based system. Questions will be tough - but fair.

Both approaches would require user authentication and tracking.

Goal?

We want everyone working with Magnolia CMS Enterprise Edition and Community Edition to know how to set up a project according to best practices.


Will it be free? (smile)

No. This aspect will be a charged service.

Oh?

Yes. Just because we are providing the Academy for 'free', it does not mean that we do not put a value on training. We do. See: http://www.magnolia-cms.com/services/training.html. And maybe read this again: http://academy.magnolia-cms.com/display/MA/2014/02/06/Quid+pro+quo (wink)

Consider this -  it is not the cost of training, but rather the cost of not doing training. That's your real bottom line.

More info please...

Badly done projects cost everyone time and money in the end - not to mention a lot of stress. Just knowing how to set up a project the right way is a massive step in the right direction to ensuring that you will have a healthy project down the line. And that is something we are very keen to see. We have put a lot of effort into creating Magnolia CMS 5 and we want to ensure that this dedication to quality persists in the projects built with Magnolia. Quality projects mean happy clients and the continued success of all our jobs. Yours included. 

OK. Sounds fair.

Curious? Please contact me at academy@magnolia-cms.com Put Magnolia Academy Online Certification Program in the subject. Thanks.

Speaking of Academy, what's been going on?

Quite a lot actually. Nicolas and Jan S. (two of our Services gurus) have been helping to add some extremely valuable content: Migration and Custom Apps, respectively. And now you can check the results out, literally -  from Git - with our brand new Magnolia Academy Git repo, right here: http://git.magnolia-cms.com/gitweb/ (Go to Academy)Awesome work guys. So thanks for that. And thanks to Pete for doing the necessary with Git.

 

Gavan Stockdale

https://twitter.com/GavanMagnolia

Quid pro quo

As usual, some questions and answers. Today's motion is: Knowing how to work with Magnolia is a big + on the CV of anyone in the Java sphere looking to add a skill that will travel far and pay its way.

You really push this Academy thing. I get all the promotion, but what's in it for me?

Good question. I am responsible for an online training portal called Magnolia Academy. Obviously I am keen to see the company I work for do well - and as part of that process I actively promote my own work. Right now Magnolia Int. is expanding, our client base increasing and our product becoming ever more sophisticated and appealing. All of which means that I can add some delicately balanced quid pro quo to the equation. And here it is - 

In the short to mid term, us getting you to learn about Magnolia CMS serves YOU a lot more than it serves us. You benefit now, but we will benefit down the line.

Hopefully we all benefit. Eventually.

How so?

The primary goal of Magnolia Academy is to lower the barrier of entry. Along the way it is nice to be able to assist sales and marketing to chase up commercial leads. The ultimate the goal of the Academy is to train people as quickly as possible how to work with Magnolia CMS - whatever their role might be. Be it a front or back end dev - or a system administrator.

But here's the thing - it is only free for you. We are paying. We even carry a marginal risk of losing training revenue. I won't go into the details here - but we are not a service driven company. We build and sell Magnolia CMS. Even if a company buys Magnolia, it's not a great situation for us if not a single dev. in the company can work with our product. That just means another client in need of extra love and care. Naturally, we provide inhouse training sessions.

Ok, so the Academy is free. What's the hard evidence that it makes sense for me to take the time to learn to work with Magnolia CMS - even if I can do it free?

If you want hard evidence, go look for it. It is called 'job hunting'. :) Firstly, it is not just the Academy that is free of charge. You can have our software too. At Magnolia Int. we have a strong community ethos and fully respect that many Magnolia users will opt for the free edition. That is totally cool with us - and we don't go cold calling free edition users. In fact, we don't usually cold call anyone. It is not our style. And we don't share commercial information. That said, we don't object to anyone using Google search and some key words such as Java developer, Magnolia, CMS etc.

What you are saying is that companies are looking for people that work with Magnolia CMS, right?

Yes. I am not saying that on any given day there are a gazillion adverts out there offering a world of riches to Magnolia CMS developers, but...

 


So how often do jobs come up?

Frequently enough for me to see them. Generally what happens is this - the companies are either already in Javaworld - or they suddenly need to be. Either way, once they opt for Magnolia CMS there is a localized flourish of job adverts with keywords such as 'Java skills' and 'Magnolia CMS' - even if the company is using the Community Edition (i.e  - the free edition). Our free software, combined with free training can help you get a well paid job. Note that jobs adds can be ambiguous. An advert may just say 'Java skills' and 'enterprise level cms' or include a few subtle hints such as 'JCR', 'integration' etc.

OK. So what advice would you have for a young Java dev looking to upskill and get into a cool line of work?

I know if I were a keen Java developer looking for a marketable skill and attracted to the prospect of a well paid contract or a permanent job, I would be adding Magnolia CMS to my belt. And I would be very grateful of any training material I could get my hands on. From there I would learn the ropes by doing my own projects with Magnolia CMS Community Edition and learning all the basics of templating, working with the STK etc.

And the Academy covers this?

Yes. But the Academy will only bring you so far. If you are good, once you have been a given hand up, you will make massive strides on your own. And there's nothing shows that you have a tangible skill more than tangible evidence. If I were recruiting a new Magnolia CMS dev. the first thing I would ask is 'Can you show me a Magnolia CMS project you have created?'

I already have a job and I already work with a CMS. What's in it for me?

Consider this; maybe YOU can help your company make a decision. Adding Magnolia to your skillset means that you can put forward solid arguments why your company should be using it or at least could benefit from a switch. It's hard to argue when you don't know what you are arguing for. Knowing how to work with Magnolia CMS means that you can make informed decisions and informative arguments about the potential payoff. In addition, just by learning how to work with Magnolia you will acquire other skills - and increase your own market value when it is time to move on to a new challenge.

I'm in. How do I get involved?

Read the dev blog and then download Magnolia CMS today. Join our Forum and subscribe to the newsletter. Oh, and check out the Academy: http://academy.magnolia-cms.com/display/MA.

Just one more question!

Sorry, out of time. (smile)  Hope you find the answer here: http://academy.magnolia-cms.com/display/MA/Questions+you+should+ask If not, please email me at academy@magnolia-cms.com

Thanks!

Gavan Stockdale

Welcome to the future

What does the future hold?

2014 looks like it will be a good year for Magnolia Academy. Up to now the Academy has enjoyed an ambiguous position in Magnolia International; a project that went from being proof of concept to full-blown product with no clear transition from one state to the other. There is a reason for keeping the BETA tag on the logo. (smile)

In this and the coming months I will be working with my colleagues in various departments - from Services and Support, to Documentation and Development - on to Sales and Marketing to ensure that the Academy makes it even easier to work with Magnolia CMS. By mid year expect solid courses on System Administration and Integration.

Consensus versus agreement...

Working to rapidly shifting goals is highly stimulating and exactly the kind of work environment I enjoy. But it does bring pitfalls - not least of which the need to reconcile differences of opinion with differences of expectation; the guys in C-level wanted content NOW; I wanted to see content done well. But what content?

One of the first things I learned on starting the Academy is that even in Magnolia International there was no one single way of doing many of the tasks that Magnolia Academy covers. Moving from POC to product meant we had to form a consensus on how to present the information. The result is that we have clarified exactly how a new developer should be approaching our product - and that is now reflected in a major restructuring of the Academy.

 

When is a beginning not a beginning?

Much of the original Academy content has been reworked and now forms two courses, the first of which is:

http://academy.magnolia-cms.com/display/MA/S1C1.+Magnolia+CMS+basics

If you are curious about working with Magnolia CMS, try this approach:

  1. Try the online demo: http://demo.magnolia-cms.com/demo-project.html (superuser / superuser)
  2. Get a CE or EE bundle and run the system on your own machine: http://sourceforge.net/projects/magnolia/files/latest/download?source=files
  3. Create your own bundle, working with Maven and a Java competent IDE: http://academy.magnolia-cms.com/display/MA/U.2+Starting+your+first+project

It's not simple - but we have simplified it. Now the bar is only set as high as your determination to succeed. A big thanks to Mr. Zimmerman in the Dev team for some great videos. Watch them carefully. Read the steps. Repeat as many times as necessary.

Oh, and happy new year! It's going to be a good one.

Gavan Stockdale
Magnolia Academy

Best practices

A couple of days ago a colleague contacted us to say that a client has been asking about best practices. This is usual - many users of Magnolia CMS (and other software tools) expect to find best practices. Often they are disappointed. 

Why?

Until recently I honestly had no clue. Seems obvious that we should be providing best practices to users of our product. Two conferences back, the feedback on documentation was the same - "Please provide more best practices." New to Magnolia International, I eagerly went looking for a way to provide a one-stop location for the best practices distributed across our documentation and wiki. The result was: http://documentation.magnolia-cms.com/display/DOCS/Best+Practices 

Wallah! A list of best practices! I even included an analysis of what ‘best practice’ could mean. (See the ‘Think through’ section.) 

So, we are done. Right?

No. This a list of topics in which we mention the words ‘best practice’ - or similar. But that’s a very fine grained use of the term best practice. And therein lies the crux to the issue of why, without fail, every year, we get requests for more.

My idea of a best practice is something quite specific - it is a word of advice on methodology: short and succinct; when I use the word best practice, it is a subtlety, a detail - not unlike a chef saying that best practice is to boil the pasta until almost done and then let it cook to perfection in the sauce. I am not teaching you how to make the best bolognese sauce.

I suspect when we are asked for best practices what people are really asking for is to be taught something; a lengthy procedure or set of procedures on how to achieve an objective. People want mamma's special recipe for scrumptious bolognese sauce with garlic and finely grated carrot.

Ok, so what should we be looking for if not for best practices?

From my perspective (as a technical writer, instructional designer, information architect, whatever...) every correctly documented, SME-checked, accurate and functioning procedure, instruction and guide - is a best practice. We just don't call it a best practice; that would be utterly redundant. If you really want to find best practices on working with Magnolia CMS, you will find them throughout:

Best practice no. 101

  1. Instead of looking for a best practice, try replacing the words 'best practice’ with “What is the best way to… “
  2.  Now insert missing term(s) into our search box.  
  3. Select the most appropriate result.

 Whatever results return, if amongst them there is an official methodology, procedure, guide or tutorial on the topic, you can be pretty sure that is a best practice.

Mamma mia! 

Gavan Stockdale

The Academy Awards

Another year, another conference. And what a conference! Great location, great people. A long, loud applause for Ben, Isa and Nicole for ensuring a good show for all. Well done guys! From a personal perspective one nice thing was this year's keynote. Good to hear the Academy mentioned as one of the successes of 2013. Indeed it is a success; it's out there, its free and it is proving popular.

Can you back up that claim with stats? (wink)

Sure...

  • 53% of visitors to Magnolia Academy are returns.
  • The average return spends 10 minutes on the site.
  • 17,000 page views in the space of 2 months.

Which is all great and very self-congratulatory - but when it came to doing an Unconference session, instead of rolling up my sleeves and getting into a detailed discussion on how we can improve the Academy, I felt compelled to sell the concept. Most of the attendees had no idea what the Academy covers. What I get from this is that we need to clarify exactly where the Academy stands in relation to:

I didn't read your last blog, and I wasn't at the conference, can you remind us what the Academy is about? (smile)

OK...

  • The aim of the Academy is to lower the barrier of entry to Magnolia CMS
    The Academy is a front-line resource for anyone that is new to Magolia CMS. It is not there to replace documentation; it leads into it should you need more info. And the chances are good that you will want it.

  • The Academy provides training in your own time at your own pace - on your own device.
    Until we have solved the problem of uploading the brains of our training team - the Academy can only ever aspire to being the next best thing to a real-life trainer. That said, in the long run the Academy will contain everything that is available in our standard training -  in terms of scope of content, it already largely reflects our training.

So what's next?

The Academy is not perfect. That's why we stuck the word 'Beta' on the logo. (smile) Some improvements to watch out for are:

  • Video enhancements.
    We will be working on video quality. For now the approach is that content is more important than format. But when Magnolia 5.2 is out, I will be looking into how we can take the audio, visual side of the Academy a step further.

  • Content updates
    Magnolia CMS 5 is a living product. This means that the Academy will remain in a state of flux. Enhancements aside, come Christmas what you see is what you will get for some time to come.

  • Content by role
    One aspect of the Academy that I'd to look into further is how to target particular audiences. Right now if you go to Academy introduction page, you get a quick view on who each module in the Academy is aimed at. At unit level the differentiation goes a step deeper. My aim is to make the landing page so intuitive that you automatically know where to go.

Next blog will be on how we are improving and expanding the Academy to ensure a smooth, relevant learning experience tailored to your specific requirements.

To the conference attendees and speakers - a big thank you. See you again next year!

Gavan

Magnolia Conference

In September we are holding our almost-annual Conference. This will give us a chance to answer some questions on the Academy and where it is going. It is also an opportunity for you to make suggestions and say your bit. For now the Academy is still in beta - but it will keep growing and it will be improved.

Where is the Magnolia Conference?

This year's event takes place in the cool surrounds of a central cinema in Basel.

When?

18-19 September, 2013

What's it all about?

The Conference takes place over two days and has two streams of presentations - Business and Technical. You can read more here.

Which stream is the Academy in?

Neither. There is no need for a presentation on the Academy, as such - at least not yet.

The business case behind the Academy is clear; get potential users up to speed quickly - and to show, free of charge, that Magnolia is without doubt one of the best CMS' on the market. The technical case is clear too; the Academy provides a first serving of technical content for the uninitiated - acting as a springboard into our world of more technical documentation. The ultimate aim of the Academy is to teach people how to use our tool - fast.

Which means?

Instead of giving a full blown Academy presentation, we will be sitting down with people during the Conference to discuss ways that we can take this to the next level - literally and figuratively. I will be on hand with the ever knowledgeable Natascha (from Services) to tackle any of the trickier questions you may have. The meeting will be one of the 'come as you are' relaxed and funky Unconference events on the Community day. The details have yet to be decided - even if we are clear on the broad strokes.

And how is the Academy doing so far?

Here are some stats for the month since it was launched. "I'll let the figures speak for.. " etc.

Page views: 12,901

Number of countries visitors came from: 111 -  from Algeria to Zimbabwe.

A big thank you to all of you in the blue regions here:

This is all great, but remind me what the hype is all about?

The Academy offers near-full sequential training on Magnolia CMS. Something we charge for when we do this face-to-face. To get the full significance of this you can find out more about our in-house training (and costs) here.

“Magnolia Academy has a modular structure, with each module divided into units. Units consist of questions that a new user of Magnolia CMS would be likely to ask.”

That’s a goal from our project plan. In the words of the CTO - we didn’t want the Academy to be ‘just more documentation”. And here in Docu we didn’t want videos for the sake of videos. We needed a fresh approach that would combine videos and documentation.

The answer? An FAQ documentation formula, bolstered with specially made video content for those procedures and concepts that we could actually show - and not just explain. Two kinds of videos in fact: Conceptual/introductory  - eg. Author & public instances & Procedural/instructional -  eg. Templating with Node2Bean.

Snippet from Magnolia Academy project plan

Leveraging talent

First stop was the Services team. Getting Services on board meant we had competent SMEs to provide input on project and module development and vital assistance with the templating units. It also meant that we had trainers that could dedicate time to creating hands-on videos based on personal experience. Next came Dev. The Dev team had been pretty busy with the release of Magnolia CMS 5 - so it was only after we had passed the launch date that we were able to get some dedicated time for units related to app development and config. The result? Some very fresh material on app configuration and some truly excellent videos - like this one: Basic app configuration.

The final structure

Although modules and units vary in length, the structure of the Academy is homogenous - Modules are divided into units; units into sections. Each section is a mini FAQ. Videos are distributed throughout. In addition, each module ends with a summary and a test. And, of course, the whole Academy is sequential - from installing the system to building content apps. The result is Magnolia Academy (beta (smile) ). We hope we got the balance between written and video content right. If you find the content is too light, you are invited to ‘Learn more' and delve into our documentation. If the videos get too technical, you can always pause or play them over again.

All this means that learners get "core Magnolia CMS training in their own time and at their own pace." Another goal from our project plan.

TOC from Magnolia Academy landing page

 

 

 

Many months ago we started working on one of the triple underscored items on our list of objectives for 2013 - an online training initiative for Magnolia CMS. With a great new product in development and Magnolia International expanding its global horizons, we needed to put some power into what we knew was an equally great idea. Following the release of Magnolia CMS 5 - Magnolia Academy is available to anyone eager to work with what is undoubtedly amongst the best CMS’ out there.

The Academy is sequential and modular, with each module divided into units. You can try an exercise per unit – and then test your knowledge at the end of the module. As our first free online training initiative, we hope you see the Academy as a self-standing course on getting fully operational with Magnolia CMS - and as an open invitation into the wider world of our detailed documentation.  For now this is a first run, with nothing set in stone. Nothing, that this, besides our determination to bring the very best training we can provide – to the nearest location that we can; your very own device. Free of charge.

Over the next few weeks I will be providing an insight into how the Academy was developed in coordination between Docu, Services and Development teams here in Magnolia International – and where it will be going in the not too distant future. In the meantime, we hope you enjoy exploring the first six modules of Magnolia Academy.