Rallying the Troops: Getting Your Team Ready for WebCenter Sites

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Making the decision to migrate your platform over to WebCenter Sites is a big decision. It takes a great deal of research, planning, and time to ensure a smooth transition. Often times Web Experience Management teams, like ours at Function1, are brought in during these transition times to provide the expertise, experience, and skill necessary to customize the platform to the organization's needs. As the project nears the point of hand-off, clients are faced with a new challenge: Utilizing and Managing WCS on their own.

Like being tossed the keys to your first car after passing your driver’s license exam, the hand-off is often met with a mixed bag of emotion. On the one hand you have the keys and the freedom of the open road ahead, but on the other hand, you’re on own.  One of the less obvious roles we cover at Function1 is assisting in preparing you and your team for this moment.

One of the questions I get asked frequently is: “How do we make sure our developers are ready to take over?” While there are many shades of gray here, building your own internal WCS team requires some thought.  What kinds of tasks will you need performed? How big does the team need to be? What do they need to know? Think of it this way, a SWAT team doesn’t load up for an operation with 12 guys who specialize in breaching doorways. Instead, the team is made up of individuals with a diverse skillset based on a training foundation so they are prepared to fulfill their role on the team. 

This begs the questions, what makes up the foundation of WCS?

Like everything we view in a web browser, the WebCenter Sites front-end consists of HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. So the front-end functionality of your designs and implementations will look familiar to most developers.  On the back-end, this is where things get a little more complex.  WebCenter Sites is driven by Java under the hood, but also has instances of JSP, XML, and many other supporting technologies. Lastly, connecting it all of it together is a series of servers and database tables.

Naturally, it’s a little difficult to know where to being. Here is a punch list of foundational topics I recommend to clients before they begin working on WCS specifically:

  • SQL Databases
  • HTML/CSS
  • JavaScript
  • Java
  • Java Server Pages
  • Apache Web Server
  • Apache Tomcat Application Server
  • Integrated Development Environments (Eclipse or JetBrains IDEA Community is a great place to start)
  • Git
  • Content Management Systems
  • UX UI Designs for Content Management Systems

It is easy to get intimidated as this list tackles some pretty large topics. Do you need to be an expert in each of these fields? Absolutely not, but having a base understanding of these or having seen them before, will make learning their context within WebCenter Sites easier.

I highly recommend using tutorials to start learning these topics.  Google, YouTube, learning services such as Lynda or TeamTreehouse.com are great places to find tutorials that combine learning with hands-on experience. A mentor of mine once told me, “Coding is not a passive sport, you have to get in the ring and take a few hits before you learn how to hit back”. The combination of book and hands-on learning is essential to internalizing the information, so when you see it in a different context, it won’t look completely foreign to you. 

At the end of the day learning WebCenter Sites should be a fun process, as it is designed to empower the user and ease the development process. The learning curve can be steep but with the right preparation, your team can hit the ground running without missing a beat.

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