Whenever we work with a client on a Sitecore implementation, it is inevitable that at some point in the process, the question of scheduling future publishes will come up. The question is usually phrased something like “Does Sitecore allow me to schedule an item to be published in the future?” Every time it comes up, I have to chuckle a little to myself, because of the answer that immediately pops into my head. That answer is “Well, out of the box, sort of, kind of, but not really, no, at least not in an effective real-world manner. But yes, that can be done.” And I legitimately think that’s the “right” answer.
I know, you’re now saying to yourself, “How can that be the right answer? You said yes and no and yes again all at the same time, and still managed to not really say much of anything.” Well, let me explain. Out of the box, Sitecore gives the content editors the ability to restrict the publication of any given item (or even specific versions of an item) right in the desktop. To see this in action, navigate to the “Publish” menu of the Sitecore Desktop Ribbon, and click the Change button in the Restrictions section. You will get a pop-up that now lets you put in dates for both when an item should go live, and if necessary, when it should be removed from being live. The following screenshot shows a portion of this popup:
So, now you’ve got to be thinking “That’s awesome, but doesn’t that answer the original question with a resounding ‘Yes’?” It sure seems to, except for one little caveat – there’s nothing out of the box with Sitecore that does automatic publishing. So, given the example in our image above, the current item is only to be published between 3/12/12 at 1:30PM and 3/30/12 at 12:30AM, and that’s what will happen when a content manager explicitly publishes the site. The first time the site is published after 3/12/12 1:30PM, the item I’ve modified above will be published – so if that first time is 3/15 at 8:30PM, then we had 3+ days where our item wasn’t published, but should’ve been. Likewise, the first publish explicitly performed after 3/30/12 12:30AM will automatically remove our item from being published, but our item won’t disappear a second before that first publish. This can be a little misleading to content managers who stumble upon the first screen on their own, as it seems to indicate a positive answer to the question “Does Sitecore allow me to schedule an item to be published in the future?” It’s important that we, as developers make sure they’re aware of exactly what that publish restriction date does and does not do.
So, I think that details the “sort of, kind of, but not really, no” portion of my answer – now let’s get to the “But yes, that can be done” portion, which is obviously the part clients care most about – the “Yes, I can help you make that happen” part. A coworker of mine has written some code that when called by a scheduled task, will perform a smart publish on a given site. The code is thus:
Once you’ve got that code, you simply need to put it in a place that allows you to call it in a schedulable way. There are lots of options to do this. One way is to call the above code from a particular webpage that, while publically accessible, is not publicized as a part of your Sitecore site (IE: a page that no one knows exists). Once you have that page, you can schedule a windows task to call your page at a regular interval, and it will automatically perform a smart publish on your site.
Now you have the means to allow Content Managers to administer date restrictions on when items should be published through the Sitecore desktop, and a means to do automatic publishing through a small bit of custom code. It’s important to note the ramifications of a scheduled publish though. If your site requires that content goes live at the same time on any given day, you can get away with having your scheduler only call the above code once a day at the proper time. This should be completely acceptable, and really happen without a hitch. However, what if your site might need content that goes live at 8:30AM, or 8:45AM, or 12:17PM, or any other arbitrary time of any given day? Well, then you need your scheduled task to run much more frequently – possibly once every minute. It’s certainly possible to set your task up to do this, but there will absolutely be an increased amount of processing strain placed on your server to run this code continuously. Having the ability to publish automatically whenever we want to does not make doing so a best practice. Another consideration that needs to be clearly communicated to all of your Content Editors when implementing an automatic publish feature is how it affects their items. Any item that is not in a non-final workflow state, and doesn’t have publishing restrictions upon it will be published by the above code. That means, if you have your auto-publish scheduled to run at 8:00AM every day, and a content editor saves a change to an item (without any workflow attached to it) at 7:59AM, but does not intend for that item to be published right away, they will be out of luck, because it will be published automatically.
We should be prudent here and say that implementing the above code alone does not preclude a content manager from explicitly performing their own Sitecore publish at anytime they wish. Our code could be used as the sole means of publishing by removing publish rights from all content editor permissions within Sitecore, thus ensuring that the site is only published when it is scheduled to be. Our code can just as easily be used in addition to “on-demand” publishes performed by content managers to help prevent items that should be published / unpublished on a schedule missing their target dates. If you have content managers who are really on the ball, it’s also conceivable they will do regular publishes when they need to be done and you don’t have to implement an auto-publish at all. Each Sitecore implementation should have its own business rules relating to the publishing of content, and those rules should dictate the methodology that is used.
So, the next time you hear someone ask (or have the question yourself) “Does Sitecore allow me to schedule an item to be published in the future?”, you can feel free to quote me by saying “Well, out of the box, sort of, kind of, but not really, no, at least not in an effective real-world manner. But yes, that can be done.”, and have confidence that yes, this can be done without a lot of effort!
Turns Out Companies Are Investing in Social Media
Wed, Dec 4th 2013 12:14p Michael Porter Google’s Wildfire commissioned a study on the How Brands Staff and Budget With Social. It’s far too long for me to replicate but here’s a couple nuggets:
There’s a lesson here and it’s that social media has become a defacto part of corporate life and interactions with customers. See the whole info graphic here. [read] Keywords: enterprise
Dreamforce: Move Marketing from a Cost Center to a Profit Center
Fri, Nov 22nd 2013 8:15a Mark Polly Well Dreamforce 13 was a whirlwind and I’m glad to be home. The final session I attended was delivered by Sungard’s VP of Marketing, Christine Nurnberger. While the title of the session said something about Marketing Metrics and ROI, it really was about how Ms Nurnberger transformed Sungard’s marketing efforts over the last 18 months. While I was hoping to learn what metrics she used and how she calculated their ROI, I took away more important information than that.
My [read] Keywords: network
Dreamforce: Developing for Google Glass
Thu, Nov 21st 2013 12:15p Michael Porter Maximiliano Firtman, author of the O’Reilly book, “jQuery Mobile” presented on some basics around development. It was less a look at the development tools and more a look at the options for development and the paradigm you take into account. He’s a a “Google Explorer” and has a chance to muck around with the Glasses for a bit.
It’s not the Get Smart phone shoe as a phone. It’s about a variety of tools like Google Glass, Sony [read] Keywords: apple
Dreamforce: ExactTarget Marketing Cloud Social Roadmap
Wed, Nov 20th 2013 6:18p Mark Polly Patrick Stokes, VP for Product Management at Salesforce provided highlights of the social roadmap for their Marketing Cloud. The following are the four areas that are the focus of the roadmap:
The social tools in the Marketing Cloud include Radian 6, Buddy Media and Social.com. These tools are integrated with ExactTarget to provide an overall platform for marketing. As an example, they are tying Social Advertising available through Social.com into the Jour [read] Keywords: facebook
Dreamforce: Marketing Technology Landscape
Wed, Nov 20th 2013 2:18p Mark Polly Brian Andersen (LUMA Partners) and Robin Bordoli (Marketo) gave a great presentation on the Marketing Technology Landscape. This area is to broad to get into details in one hour, so they presented an overview of the market and then suggested the following three tactics to cope with the vast amount of change going on:
Accept that buyers are in control – it used to be that the buyers contacted the seller well in advance of a sale and the sales team took over to convert that buyer into a c [read] Keywords: network
Dreamforce: YAHOO! CEO Marissa Mayer Keynote
Tue, Nov 19th 2013 7:18p Michael Porter They started off with a video of Leviev Diamonds and how they use Saleforce. The following interview includes a story about a diamond heist. They used the data in Salesforce to document the loss to the police.
Mark Benioff also interviewed the CEO’s of Men’s Warehouse and Whole Foods. Honestly, that’s quite the list of CEO’s to come to a tech conference. It includes the CEO’s of HP, YAHOO!, Leviev Diamonds, Facebook, Men’s Warehouse, and Whole Foods. [read] Keywords: community
Dreamforce: Managing Social Conversations with Buddy Media
Tue, Nov 19th 2013 5:18p Mark Polly Barbara Meskin from Jim Beam presented how that brand learned how to engage customers through social media on a global scale. The journey that she decribed included the following steps over two years, although these things were not done linearly all the time:
Social Audit – here they had to figure out what they had and how social media was used across the world. They found 28 Facebook pages, all with inconsistent message, inconsistent branding and multiple personalities
Stakeholder Al [read] Keywords: facebook