By Cathy Dew
Increase the quality of your content publishing processes by implementing workflows
Creating and editing content in Kentico should never be a solo endevour. But notifications for new pages and edits shouldn’t rely on emails, instant messages, or sneaker net – especially when you have multiple editors changing content every day on your public internet or corporate intranet. That’s where Kentico workflows come in. Today we’ll cover the setup and decisions needed for a robust workflow process to assist with your content publishing. Next week, we’ll discuss how to actually apply and run a workflow as part of your content publishing processes.
What is a Workflow – What does it cover?
Workflows are part of a page’s lifecycle and comes into play when you want to formalize the editing, review, and approval of your site’s content during the publishing process. For example, a departmental editor creates a new article and flags it for global distribution. Because the article will end up on the corporate landing page in addition to the departmental landing page, Corporate Communications is notified to review and approve the new content before it is published. Another example, would be routing all adds and changes by the site’s content generators to a central editor for review and approval.
What’s important to know, with Kentico workflow and publishing, the workflow process is only activated with page content adds or changes. Updates to page templates (changes made via the design tab) are not covered by workflow
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Types of Workflows in Kentico
There are two types of workflows available in Kentico: Basic and Advanced. With Kentico Ultimate, you only have access to the Basic workflow, with Kentico EMS you have access to both types. With Basic workflows, your process can only be linear and no conditional branching is available. With Advanced, you have access to conditional branching and can create more robust workflow options including timeouts that will move pages between steps automatically. Additionally, conditional workflow branching can be performed via macros or by user interactions.
As with all tools, even with the Advanced options, you don’t want to over engineer your workflows and increase the overhead of content publishing unnecessarily. Workflows should be something that helps your publishing process. If you find your editors are attempting to route around your workflow approval processes, you probably want to revisit your rules and rewrite your workflows.
Available Workflow Features
Once you’ve decided to build workflows to assist with your content publishing, you’ll need to activate versioning. (Even without workflow enabled, versioning is a critical part of content publishing and is not something you should have disabled.) In addition to versioning, depending on the number of editors you have, content locking (also known as check-in/check-out) is another feature that can assist your publishing process. Enabling content locking ensures that editors don’t overwrite each other when making changes to pages. Once checked-out, the page is only editable by the editor who locked the page.
Page preview is also available within the workflow process and is extremely helpful in evaluating the needed updates or new content. Some pages require a minimum or maximum amount of content in order to provide the best look and feel, where others have limitations on headers and other title areas that need to be checked visually to make sure they don’t break the visual design or wrap un expectedly.
Lastly within the workflow features you have the ability to archive pages. Archiving allows you to now show a page on the public side, but still retain it on the administrative side for page history or eventual update and republication. Sometimes you content has a shelf life, and needs a publication stop date. With a proper workflow enabled and a publication end date, you can setup the pages to self-expire and drop off the pubic side of your website.
One of the most under-utilized options within Kentico workflows is the scoping option. You can define workflows by page type, culture, and macro conditions. Having these options to include or exclude pages from workflow allow you to create workflows tailored to your specific content needs. Do you need different workflow approval processes for Spanish versus German content? Do you need more or less conditional options for event versus announcement pages? With these three scoping options you can easily create the workflows that support your publication processes.
One thing our clients find as they build out multiple workflows and scopes is that sometimes, workflows can overlap. Internally Kentico has a workflow priority that puts the workflows in a hierarchy and will only launch the workflow that matches first. This can be confusing when you don’t understand how Kentico ranks your workflows. The workflow priority can be explained by looking at the number of parameters that need to be matched, the more specific the parameters the higher on the list the workflow will be. For example, a scope with page type and culture will have a higher priority than a scope with just a page type or just a culture. This priority designation filters down to specific pages, pages with or without children, exclusions and then lastly a specific macro condition.
You don’t need to memorize the internal priority rankings, but it helps to know that page type and culture rank higher than specific pages and macros.
Understanding Email Notifications
The last important part of understanding Kentico workflows is how email notifications are handled. There are actually 3 different areas where you can enable email notifications: globally, workflow, and workflow step.
The events where you can send emails, outside of a custom workflow step, are when a page’s status changes. These events are Waiting for Approval, Approved, Rejected, Published and Archived.
Additionally, the emails sent by workflow events are based on global email templates, so if you want to create your own workflow emails you need to create the email templates that are more in line with your notification needs.
Lastly, workflow emails are sent to all users with Manage workflow permissions / roles. This is independent from who has permissions for the workflow step via the security tab.
2Plus2 is a California San Francisco Bay Area Kentico Gold Partner and would love to help you get the most out of your Kentico system. Go online to schedule a free consultation with our team or call 510-652-7700 today.