Content authoring concepts for developers new to Sitecore
This topic briefly introduces Sitecore-specific terms and concepts related to content authoring.
Sitecore users who manage content are called Content Authors. Sitecore provides content authoring interfaces that enable these users to create pages, add components to pages, edit content displayed by the components, and define personalization rules.
You can review the following topics to understand how Content Authors work with the components developers build and how they control the position of components inside pages.
To make content management easier for Content Authors, Sitecore developers configure solution-specific information architecture by creating template items. The concept of templates in Sitecore is analogous to classes in object-oriented programming. Templates, like classes, define a set of fields applicable to a specific type of object.
Templates are the building blocks for everything Content Authors manage in Sitecore. They are used to define:
Page types, such as the Home page, landing page, and product page.
Component data, such as Image, Video, and Carousel.
Arbitrary items, such as List item, Shared Content Folder.
Developers define templates under the Templates node in the Sitecore content tree.
Content Authors typically do not see these items because their work is limited to the Content part of the tree. They create content items based on existing templates. Referring back to the programming analogy, this is like creating instances of classes.
The factor that distinguishes page templates from all other types of templates is the presence of layout data.
Layout data informs Sitecore on how to render the page. It consists of renderings and placeholders.
Sitecore developers sometimes refer to layout data as presentation details or layout details because of how they access the Sitecore interface for editing layout data - by clicking Details on the Presentation tab in the Layout section.
Renderings are discreet elements of the page UI. They can be as simple as a button or as complex as Site Search Results. Content Authors build pages by adding renderings to pages and populating them with content.
When using a rendering SDK to build the front-end application, a rendering item informs Sitecore which front-end component to use to generate the HTML for a particular rendering and which template to use when creating a content item to serve as the component's data source.
Placeholders are places on the page where Content Authors can insert renderings.
Sitecore developers configure rules for placeholders on the page level, and they can also nest placeholders inside components. Different placeholders allow different renderings. For example, a header placeholder could allow Navigation, Logo, and Language Selector components. Because all pages, regardless of type, must have headers, this placeholder would be present on all pages. However, a placeholder that allows only product-related components would only exist on product pages.
Putting it all together
There is no universal formula for breaking up page types, placeholders, and renderings. Sitecore developers must work together with business stakeholders to identify the best approach for each content team.
Fewer page types and shallow placeholder nesting cause more components to be available in more places, and it is up to Content Authors to make sure they properly group components. This approach is preferred when the business wants authors to have flexibility in their editing options when, for example, each person on the content team helps manage all parts of the app.
Conversely, more page types and deep placeholder nesting can lead to a prescriptive editing workflow. This approach is preferable when the business wants to enforce authoring restrictions. For example, when the content team members have specific roles, different roles are responsible for different app parts.