CMS Version Control
The "Divisions" of the CMS
There are three different areas within the CMS, each with its own capabilities and properties.
- The first area is the "workarea". This space in the CMS is where multiple people may be at work at any one time on many different pieces of content. The workarea is reserved for people that have appropriate permissions to modify CMS content, and is not available to the general public. Changes made to content in the workarea is not visible to the end user on the live web site.
- The second area is the "staging" area. This area may contain many different versions of content, depending on how many times content has been "submitted". When a piece of content is "submitted" from the workarea, it enters staging. Each time content is submitted to staging, a new version is created. Stored within the staging area is a copy of all previous versions of content. A more detailed description of staging and versions will be given below.
- The final area of the CMS is the live website. Only the most recent version from staging is made available to the end user via the Internet. This area of the CMS is the one that most people will encounter, since access to the university website is unrestricted.
The Staging Area and Versions
As mentioned previously, the staging area of the CMS contains multiple versions of content. Every time a page is submitted to staging from the workarea a new version is created, and the old one is also retained. Every hour a script runs that makes the most recent version of the content available on the live site. To make this idea easier to understand, let us consider two cases:
Case #1: The Correct Department
The Correct Department creates a page in their TeamSite called about_us. This page is created and submitted to staging.
The next day an employee of the Correct Department, with permission to access the CMS, decides he doesn't care for the appearance of the new page, and makes several changes which he then submits to staging.
On the third day, the director sees the changes made by the employee on day two, and emails him to let him know the previous version was more appropriate. The employee agrees to make the page look like it did on day one. Due to the fact the staging area retains all versions submitted to it, the employee simply had to select the previous version to revert to the older look. Without version control, the employee would have had to completely recreate the first version. The CMS has saved the Correct Department time, and made their content easier to maintain.
Case #2: The Difficult Department
The Difficult Department creates a page in their TeamSite called about_us. The director is very pleased with the previewed page, but forgets to submit the page to staging.
The next day the director makes changes to the about_us page and submits them to staging after he has finished.
On the third day the director decides the changes he made to the about_us page aren't as good as the original. He tries to revert back to the original that he had created on day one. Due to the fact he didn't submit his original file to staging, staging does not have a version to which he can revert. The director has to completely remodel the page, wasting time that could have been saved if the changes of day one were submitted to staging.
Moral of the story:
As long as you are careful to submit your work to staging frequently (especially after making drastic changes), you can easily utilize the version control feature of the CMS. It is important to understand that if you do not submit your work to the staging area, a new version will not be created. A good habit to practice would be to submit changes to staging at the end of every day, or more often if many changes are being made. For more details on how to submit changes from the workarea to staging, refer to the "Generating, Regenerating, and Submitting Your Work" tutorial.
Unless a previous version is manually selected, the live web site will always display the most recent version of content submitted to staging.
Retrieving a Previous Version
Staging will retain all previous versions of content submitted from the workarea. This feature makes it easy to remove changes made between submissions to staging by simply reverting back to a previous version. To recover a previous version from staging, and make it available on the live site, follow the steps below.
- Identify the file you wish to revert to a previous version, click on "Properties" for that file. (See image below)
- The CMS will display information about the selected file, and a button that will allow you view the versions of that file that have been submitted to staging. Click on the "Versions" button (you may have to scroll to the right to see it).
- The CMS will now display all versions that have been submitted to staging for the file. Use the "Compare to Staging" link to see the differences between the version that is currently marked for display on the live site, and the selected version. If you find a version that is more desirable than the current version, click the "Revert" link. The selected version will now be marked for display on the live site, and will be displayed when the script next runs to update the live site.
- When you are finished reviewing versions, click "Close", and then "Save". To preview the reverted file, click on the file name. Submit the reverted file to staging to finish the reversion process. (see Generating, Regenerating and Submitting Your Work for details on how to submit a file)
Editions are essentially a "snapshot" of your entire TeamSite at one point in time. It is different from "Versions" in that an "Edition" is of the entire TeamSite and can be browsed like your workarea. To create an "Edition" of your TeamSite follow the directions below:
- Log into the CMS and navigate to your "content" area. (Your view should be similar to the one below)
- Press twice until you see "Editions" listed in the center area (see below). Click on "Editions". You will now see a list of previous editions.
- Click on .
- Fill in the information for your "New Edition". An information bar along the top will let you know how many submissions have been made since the last edition was created.
- Click OK.
- The screen will return to the list of editions. To browse through an edition click on the edition.
It is recommended that you create an "edition" of your website once a month, or after any major changes to your site.