Content Staging Initiative: Improving Digital Workflow for Efficient Content Publishing

As Drupal is adopted by larger organizations, there are more administrators, editors, and content creators that are working on large-scale Drupal sites. The need for an efficient and intuitive process for creating, editing, and publishing content has become increasingly important.

Neil Hastings
#Drupal | Posted

As Drupal is adopted by larger organizations, there are more administrators, editors, and content creators that are working on large-scale Drupal sites. The need for an efficient and intuitive process for creating, editing, and publishing content has become increasingly important.

The Content Staging Initiative is an effort in the Drupal community to explore and build a system for content staging and management of publications on a Drupal site. This work has fueled new modules that enhance site preview capabilities, content “staging” for multiple publishing scenarios, and improved editor’s workflow tools.

To illustrate how these tools can be used for publishing, let’s look at how a prominent news site, covering an international soccer game like the Spain vs. Netherlands match in the 2010 World Cup, might use content staging.

Leading up to the game, content administrators would add news articles, images, and editorials about each team. To prepare for the match’s win, editors and reporters would create full content for two scenarios: one in which Spain wins and one in which Netherlands wins.

Netherlands Win Scenario

Content editors can effectively create two versions of the same home page for either scenario -- with content and layout revisions for each. Each scenario is classified in a “collection”, and each node of content (an article, image, or editorial) would be tagged for the Spain or Netherlands Collection. Editors can then use the site preview system to approve how content and layout looks on the site before it is published in either scenario. The Interactive Information Bar Module is used to alert the editor that he/she is in preview mode.

With the Content Staging Modules installed, the editor can review these articles using the Real-Site Preview Module. This module allows editors to see how the site will look with either “collection” of content in place.

When the game is officially over, editors know that Spain has won, and can act quickly to enable the Spain collection of content. Using the content revisions tab, the editor can quickly filter for all articles, images and layout edited for a Spanish win - including the homepage revised block and revised layout prepared for this scenario.

Then after making final copy edits and last look-over, they use the Node Revision Administration (NRA) Module, to select and publish the Spanish win coverage in bulk. Instantly the news site is completely up-to-date with the latest breaking World Cup coverage. Images and layout related to Spain's victory are perfectly configured since the editorial setup can be planned far in advance. This puts the editor in the driver's seat to execute a perfectly up-to-date site, ahead of the competition.

Content staging will help digital workflow in many important ways. This system allows an organization to look at content at any stage of revision and see what it looks like in the context of the entire site before the content is published live. Content staging can be used for:

    • Performing real site previews of content with certain parameters before the content is published
    • The approval process for a landing page layout before it goes live.
    • Looking at a piece of content at any point in history or in the future, and seeing how it looks with affected changes.
    • Publishing bulk publications with revisions

Efficient content staging and workflow is crucial for larger organizations who have several people working on content publication, and who need to curate and publish their content very quickly, according to unfolding news, rapidly updating events, and even sports wins and losses.

The Content Staging Initiative is an exciting development in Drupal digital workflow. Currently, the CSI team, made up of developers from around the Drupal community, is working on improving workflow and revisions to support non-node entities in collection build operations. Stay up-to-date on the Content Staging Initiative by following the CSI Drupal Group announcements.

Neil Hastings