Ron Grisnich shared a great picture which sums up how the two are related.
DD4T is the engine, and SDL DXA is the car around that engine.
Why do we need to merge them?
DD4T and SDL DXA have been (up to now) developed on different release cycles, and by different teams. This means that although DD4T is the engine in the SDL DXA car, it has be tuned (or modified). The aim of the merger is to bring these two great projects back together, and create a go forward strategy to keep them together.
Keeping them together, as one product, means everyone benefits. Each set of users (either DD4T or SDL DXA) will benefit from the others investment. If the engine is tuned the car benefits. If the car gets new parts, the engine can be fully utilized.
What do we have today?
Today, as mentioned, DD4T and SDL DXA are already closely related. A modified version of DD4T powers SDL DXA. However, as they are not one and the same, time has led them to diverge and each now has different strengths and weaknesses. Customers have to decide DD4T or SDL DXA, and that is what we want to remove.
What will we have tomorrow?
Tomorrow is not decided yet; that is the first priority of the two parties (community and SDL) to formulate the plan. However, at a high level, we can assume it will resemble the following:
These sample modules might include things like
– UI Module: HTML, CSS, JS foundations
– e-Commerce Module: PIM integration and faceted search
– Navigation Module: mega menu support
Overall you’ll still be able to do the good things the frameworks allowed before (use the same engine in two different styles of car, or take the engine and build your own car). The difference will be, it will be the same engine in every car. So when the engine gets updated it still fits, and can easily be fitted to any car on the market.
As the diagram shows above, we’ll end up with a core framework (the engine – formally DD4T) with plugable module architecture (SDL DXA) that users can pick and choose based on their needs.
This will allow several different “off the shelf” car configurations to be created, but also allow you to custom build when you need to. You should even be able to do both, with off the shelf micro-sites and custom built booking engines (for example).
The modular architecture will be key to give the flexibility to each customer, at the same time as providing a best-practice and easy way to implement custom features. This fits perfectly with SDL’s “Best of Breed” approach to Web Content Management.