I. SDL Tridion Basics

What You Will Learn

  1. How SDL Tridion will look on your screen after signing in
  2. How your website will look and be organized in SDL Tridion
  3. The difference between the Building Blocks folder and the Root folder
  4. Where components are built and where pages are built

Grasping how SDL Tridion organizes websites along with their pages and content will make for a smoother transition into actual site building. This section is not intended to teach you how to build or edit sites just yet, but rather provide an overview of how Tridion looks in your browser.

Figure 1: All of the publications, or websites, to which you have access are listed to the left.

After signing in, you will see a list called Publications in the left column and an empty area in the center. For the most part, each publication represents one website. The Publications column or pane shows all the Publications to which you have access. (Figure 1)

Parent & Child Publications

Generally, each blue globe represents a publication or website, but there is one IMPORTANT exception: (Figure 2)

Parent Publications

When a department has multiple subsections or organizations affiliated with it, a "parent publication" is used to house the content for all of the websites in that organization. For example, IntMed (1) is the parent publication of Internal Medicine. IntMed (1) is where all of the components for the Internal Medicine websites are built (inside of the yellow Building Blocks folder). There are no pages in the pink Root folder of IntMed (1) since parent publications do not represent websites.

Child Publications

Below IntMed (1) is IntMed (2) - Main Site, the "child publication" which contains Internal Medicine's home site. Following IntMed (2) - Main Site is a list of all of the sub-departments within Internal Medicine, such as Cardiology and Geriatrics. Pages for these sub-departments, or child publications, are built in the pink Root folder of each respective publication. This will be explained in further detail later on.

Figure 2: Notice that all of the different publications with the prefix "IntMed." IntMed (1) is the parent publication that only contains content in its Building Blocks folder. IntMed (2) is the main site for Internal Medicine, but is a child publication. All other sites with "IntMed" in the name are also child publications. The child publications borrow components from the parent publication.

  • Once you select a publication/website from the publication list, the contents of that publication will appear in the center area, or the development pane.
  • Note that only folders will appear in the publication list. Individual items, like pages and components, will only display in the development pane.
  • You will see a yellow Building Blocks folder and a pink Root folder. These are the only two folders you will work in. The Categories and Keywords folder is not used by the majority of YSM websites, and can be ignored. (Figure 3)
  • Anytime you open a page or component in the development pane, that page or component will open in a new tab or window of your browser.

Figure 4: Cardiovascular Medicine is part of the IntMed group in Tridion. If I wanted to build components for Cardiovascular Medicine, I would select Building Blocks, then Content, then Cardiovascular Medicine to ensure that components are built in the right folders. Notice how in the Cardiovascular Medicine folder, the other folders are appropriately named after sections in the site (About Us, Clinical Programs, etc).

Building Blocks Folders

  • The Building Blocks folder houses all of the content which exists on the pages of your site. All content for a publication lives within its associated Building Blocks folder, with the exception of child publications, where content lives in the parent publication's Building Blocks folder.
  • In Tridion, an individual piece of content is referred to as a component. Components provide ready-made templates for displaying content (such as text, images, video, etc.) on the pages of your site.  All components are built in the Building Blocks folder.
  • Within the Building Blocks folder, components are saved in Content folder. Generally, within the Content folder there will be additional yellow component folders which mirror how your site's pages are organized. For example, components which will be used for pages in the "Research" section of your site should be saved in a folder titled "Research." Copying the navigation structure of your website will help you find components faster when adding them to pages. (Figure 4)

Figure 5: This is the Root folder of Cardiovascular Medicine. Root folders are found below the Building Blocks folder. The home page is correctly labeled as "010_Home," and the remaining structure groups are numbered in order to dictate how they will appear in the top navigation.

Root Folders

  • The pink folders, or structure groups, represent the navigation structure of the website. After building components in the Building Blocks folder, components are placed on pages within the root folder. Think of pages as blank canvases which you fill with content by adding components. This process will be covered in further detail in the following sections. (Figure 5)
  • On the first level within the Root, the home page will be built and labeled as "000_Home." The 000_Home page represents the very top of the site's navigation structure.
  • The pink folders with "###_prefixes" are called structure groups. Structure groups in the top level of the Root folder, where the homepage is, will become the main navigation which displays at the top of the site. For example, if a structure group is named "010_About Us," About Us will be the first section listed in the top navigation.
  • You will also see other pages in the Root, such as "Privacy," which are standard pages that all YSM sites must include. You cannot alter these pages.
  • Within each pink folder or structure group, there is at least one page. There may also be additional structure groups and pages with "###_" prefixes that represent the left navigation for the website while you are within that specific structure group.
  • Each structure group, in addition to having a name and numerical prefix, has a file name. The file name will determine the name of the folder within the URL.  Since the file name will become part of a URL, it can only contain lowercase letters, numbers, hyphens (-), and underscores (_).


Think of pages as blank canvases for content. You will build your site by adding components to new or existing pages in the desired section of your site. Understanding the distinction between pages and components is essential for using Tridion.