Tips from Mike Sallander to Speed up Development in Business Catalyst

Michael Sallander - Chicago Digital

Mike Sallander is co-founder of Chicago Digital and BC Academe.

A dynamic speaker at many Adobe Business Catalyst events, Mike loves sharing his knowledge of Business Catalyst.

Listen to Mike's tips:

Simply click the play button below to stream the podcast via your browser.

Alternatively, you can download the podcast in .mp3 format for offline listening.

Recurring Emails to Decrease Content Load

Use Recurrent emails to send out emails on a recurring basis (daily or weekly) can save you tons of time as you no longer need to create each occurrence manually. We had a project where there were 30 different email campaigns that needed to send out 90 days in a row to subscribers of the content. In this example, recurrent emails would reduce the number of campaigns we needed to create from 2,700 to 30. If we make the assumption that copying each campaign, re-naming and updating the send date takes 2 minutes, this feature alone could have saved us 89 hours on a project. This feature is in Beta but I highly recommend you check it out.

Building Large Dynamic Menus

For menu with few items, using the BC interface is fine. For those projects that have menus with 20+ items it can be much quicker to approach the menu in a different way: create an HTML unordered list and use the “optimize content” functionality in BC. Let’s walk through a couple of ways to approach creating an unordered list with hyperlinks to import into Business Catalyst. If your sitemap is in Microsoft Word (or text editor) copy and paste the sitemap into the design view of a code editor like Dreamweaver. This will create an unordered list in HTML. Alternatively, you could just build you menu structure in Dreamweaver. There are also site map generation tools that will output your menu as an HTML unordered list.

Now that we have the bulleted menu structure: Copy and paste the html code into a temporary business catalyst page using the BC interface (click publish to activate the actions menu). Click the actions button and click optimize content. BC will recognize the unordered list as a menu and will automatically create the menu for you.

Note: You will need to use menu module version 2 tags with this menu. If you try to use the regular tag, your menu will not display properly.

Avoid Special Characters in Categories to Avoid Web App Import Issues

The & and / can cause issues when used in a category name if you plan on uploading web app items using excel. The ampersand (&) gets converted to its HTML equivalent (&) when exported. Since BC uses semi-colons “;” (NOTE: Podcast incorrectly mentioned the colon “:”) to separate categories the ampersand causes unwanted new categories. For example: “/First&Second;/NormalCategory” would create 3 categories when uploaded: “First&amp”, “Second”, and “NormalCategory”. The forward slash is used to define hierarchy and similarly will cause creation of unwanted categories.

Dreamweaver Tips

Our team uses Dreamweaver every day to develop websites on Business Catalyst. We utilize Dreamweaver as a code editor and is our editor of choice due to the BC integration, code hinting with jQuery, and other built in features. There are some tips inside of Dreamweaver that can help reduce the amount of time it takes to code a site.

Dreamweaver HotKeys

The following is a list of hot keys that we use often:

  • Save and Publish: Ctrl+S, ctrl+shift+U
  • Insert Paragraph: Ctrl+Shift+P
  • Headings: Ctrl+1, Ctrl+2, Ctrl+3, etc.
  • Insert Image: Ctrl+Alt+I
  • Make a Link: Ctrl+L
  • Select Words: Ctrl+Shift+Directional Arrows

Dreamweaver Snippets

Without going into too much detail, snippets allow you to store blocks of code that you utilize often so that you can quickly insert it into new project documents. When you insert snippets you can insert it is a full block of code or code that can be wrapped around the highlighted element. The following are a couple ways that we utilize snippets:

  • Blog Styling: Have predefined styles that are used to override the built-in blog styling. When building a css doc, can insert this snippet and make customizations to the CSS to match the new site instead of writing all of the overrides from scratch
  • Form Styling: Using the “wrapped” insertion method, you can highlight a form field and quickly wrap it with your own html structure which will likely include the use of divs and paragraphs rather than table elements

Live Preview

As of Dreamweaver CS6, Dreamweaver is able to render BC Modules inside of the Live Preview Mode. This feature can save you some time from flipping back and forth to the browser to see how your code is going to render. The only problem is that if you are using clean URLs without extensions on your BC site (/about instead of /about.htm), the live preview will render a page not found error as it is trying to pull up the .htm version of your page. To get around this, go to the URL manager in Business Catalyst and create a URL Redirect from the .htm to the page without the extension. Using the previous example /about.htm would be the source URL and /about the destination. When Dreamweaver Live Preview tries to pull up the page with the extension, it will recognize the redirect and show the correct page.


Here is a list of content that I tune into an a regular basis (not just related to development),


BC Sources

Win a free spot at the BC Academe

From now until July 12th, tweet for a chance to earn a free spot in one of our courses.

Entrance is simple, just click on one of the links below:

The link will prepopulate a tweet which is your entrance into the contest. Each tweet will be counted as a contest entrance (up to 2 tweets per day). On July 12th, we will randomly pick and announce the winner on Twitter (and other social media channels).

Looking for more?

Visit Chicago Digital’s Website: Chicago Digital

Also check out Business Catalyst Courses at the BC Academe

Listen to the full interview with Mike:

Simply click the play button below to stream the podcast via your browser.


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