SDL Tridion BluePrint – Minimizing Localizations

This article explains the importance of SDL Tridion BluePrint Localization and its consequences. Also, it gives support for your BluePrint design and localization standards by using a rule of thumb Minimizing Localizations

Note: Do not try this at home!!! If you are not familiar with SDL Tridion BluePrint, perhaps you should think about getting support from someone that does.
In the long term, you will find that it was worth every cent.
The setup
SDL Tridion BluePrint Localization allows us to adapt something generic to a more concrete context. In this way, we can create “global” items that are shared across a number of websites. When needed, the item can be localized to adapt it to the context of a particular website without affecting the others.
For example, a product marketing description may be good for most of the websites. We create the product marketing description globally. Then we may adapt the product marketing description to a particular website by localizing it.
 The consequences
The consequence of that localization is that changes in the global item will not be push down to the localized item.
This means that every time you localize an item you lose a bit of SDL Tridion:
·         Reusability: Localized items need to be managed individually.
·         Maintainability: Managing individual copies increases the work load of your editors
·         Cost efficiency: as a conscience of the two items above.
Of course, it is fine to localize when you gain something with it. For example, provide the right content in the context of a market or a website.
Also, remember that you may localize an item to obtain a gain, but this also means that you take ownership of the future upkeep of the localized item.
The possible approaches and solutions
We have found that some common localization points are avoidable by using alternative approaches and solutions. For example, in terms of translation you should seriously consider the following:
·         Use a single Translation Layer in the BluePrint
·         Manage web page title and metadata in components in the global content publication
·         Manage Navigation, breadcrumbs and  sitemap titles as content in the global content publication
Note: we should provably explain in depth these approaches and solutions.
The Conclusion
BluePrint Localization is a very very good thing, although it has consequences.
Minimizing localization will help you construct a more solid and robust SDL Tridion implementation, increasing reusability, maintainability and user friendliness, while reducing costs.
In general, avoiding localizations has more advantages than disadvantages, but you would not be very happy if BluePrint localization was not possible.
What is proposed here is minimizing localizations, when and if possible.
Keeping in mind the advantages and disadvantages of minimizing localizations will help you making the right decisions:
·         Advantages
o   Improve central control over items - Managed once use everywhere
o   Minimize maintenance -Managed once use everywhere
o   User friendly - Minimize editorial tasks and work load
·         Disadvantage
o   Less flexibility


  1. Great explanation of the trade offs with localization, Manuel. It's hard to capture the subtlety in the pros/cons of a concept like localization and BluePrinting. I agree with this approach in that it offers flexibility while simplifying content management.

    Very timely as well--I'm seeing at least one Tridion-using organization just getting started with localization on the TridionWorld forum.

    Do we still have to remind CMOs and developers to not localize templates? ;-)

  2. Good explanation.. Currently I am dealing with consequences of localization and other editorial issues.

    What you would recommend in case if I have to localized the multimedia component just to update the alt in metadata?

  3. If only it would become possible to have sections or fields in schemas to be unlocalisable. Than it would be a lot easier to have all the advantages of localization, yet with a powerful control from the parent applications!

    Luckily I came up with this idea already 809 days ago ;-)

  4. Until Hendrik ideas are part of SDL Tridion product :-), the only option you have is managing those labels separately in another component.
    I can think of two options:
    1) The Alt text is managed in the referring schema. E.g. News schema has a multimedia link field to an image schema. The News schema also contains an Alt text field to manage it. You could define an embeddable schema with a multimedia link field to an image and the Alt text field and use it in the in the News schema.
    2) The Alt text is managed in a separate component. Perhaps not the prettiest solution.

    Another option, although not very alternative is to leave it as it is and assume that if you change the image you will change the Alt text. In this way, your translation processes should make sure the item is unlocalized and localized later for Alt text translation.

  5. What would having sections of schemas or fields localizable do to the complexity of the management of content? I would be interested in your thoughts on that point. Reply here or send me a mail directly.

  6. Hi Manuel,

    Any chance of expanding upon "Manage Navigation, breadcrumbs and sitemap titles as content in the global content publication"?

    Do you mean via components and component links in structure group metadata?

    1. Hi Couch Potato, :-)
      I will definitely expand on this as soon as I get a chance.

      I hope this helps in the meantime.

      Apart from navigation, breadcrumbs and Sitemap, you should also think of managing Web Page Metadata such as Web Page Title, Web Page Description or Web Page Keywords.
      There are 2 ways to go about it:
      1. Via components linked from structure group and page metadata, as you mentioned.
      2. Via components already on the pages as Component Presentations. You need to identify the “Main Component” on the Page. E.g. News Article component in an Full/Detail News Article page, or a Heading on a Landing/Section page.

  7. With Experience Manager page types that let use create new Components automatically and for dynamic linking, I'm suggesting option #2 more often in my CMS designs. If needing to build dynamic functionality such as filtering or item search, it can also help to have these type of information directly on "main components."

    I've also noticed the main things vary by industry--for example entertainment organizations might have this type of metadata in locations and events whereas business-to-business (B2B) organizations might use service and product-related content types to host the navigation and SEO-related fields.

    See Will Price's answer to one of my questions on the practice of minimizing localization for some follow-up thoughts: