29 April, 2022

Shared Fields & Publish Related Items - Possible Impact

Shared fields (includes Shared Layout) and Publish related items may lead to unexpected results to the content in target database.  

First, let's talk about Shared Fields.

  1. Shared fields are shared by all versions in all languages.
  2. Shared field changes will be published even though the latest version of the item is not in final workflow state. 
  3. Shared field values cannot be staged in a draft workflow state unless we use publishing restrictions. 
  1. Item has a Shared field of type checkbox. Version 1 of the item has this field checked. 
  2. Version 1 is approved and published. 
  3. User creates Version 2 and it is in draft state. User updates the Shared field checkbox to unchecked. 
  4. Keeping the item in draft state, user publish the item and Sitecore will complain that the version is not in final state so it will publish the Version 1 instead. 
  5. Version 1 will be published along with the Shared field checkbox changes (unchecked).

It is known and expected that Sitecore will publish the Shared field changes along with the previously approved item version.

Second, let's talk about the publish related items. 


    1. Site has two languages: English and German. 
    2. All the items have 1 language version each and they are approved and published.
    3. Content author A creates a new version (draft state) in SiteHome item and updates the Shared field from unchecked to checked. Also added a component in Shared Layout so that it is applicable for all the languages. 
    4. Content author B adds Blog item as a link in the CTA item and publishes CTA item with publish related items option. Deep scan is disabled in the configuration. 

    List of items which are published by Sitecore:
    Publishing Item: {AF584191-45C9-4201-8740-5409F4CF8BDD} Skipped /sitecore/system/Languages/en
    Publishing Item: {F68F13A6-3395-426A-B9A1-FA2DC60D94EB} Skipped /sitecore/templates/System/Language
    Publishing Item: {15D7E7A7-36CF-4FE4-938D-229098EDD7E4} Skipped /sitecore/templates/System/Language/Data
    Publishing Item: {49E5E8F3-ED4A-4A06-ABE1-B9408951DEE9} Skipped /sitecore/templates/System/Language/Data/Charset
    Publishing Item: {990596CE-0024-43F3-BF4C-A991BFA69B45} Skipped /sitecore/templates/System/Language/Data/Code page
    Publishing Item: {60669E54-7B9C-4B55-A0C4-8F25059D8B94} Skipped /sitecore/templates/System/Language/Data/Dictionary
    Publishing Item: {8728D8FF-66D9-40C2-8B34-C4FC1466942E} Skipped /sitecore/templates/System/Language/Data/Encoding
    Publishing Item: {892975AC-496F-4AC9-8826-087095C68E1D} Skipped /sitecore/templates/System/Language/Data/Fallback Language
    Publishing Item: {C437E416-8948-427D-A982-8ED37AE3F553} Skipped /sitecore/templates/System/Language/Data/Iso
    Publishing Item: {0620F810-9294-4F14-AF9F-F5772EFCA0B2} Skipped /sitecore/templates/System/Language/Data/Regional Iso Code
    Publishing Item: {BB50A232-0C2C-48E5-B291-A8DA2ACCB8FE} Updated /sitecore/content/Home/SiteHome/Page 1/CTA
    Publishing Item: {110D559F-DEA5-42EA-9C1C-8A5DF7E70EF9} Skipped /sitecore/content/Home
    Publishing Item: {77FAC5E0-CE1B-4707-994B-1B36304A1E82} Updated /sitecore/content/Home/SiteHome
    Publishing Item: {7C63C8F3-28D4-4CCC-9EEC-915CB1931492} Skipped /sitecore/content/Home/SiteHome/Page 2
    Publishing Item: {8749DC20-2620-4211-A3A8-A6F3B872B8DD} Skipped /sitecore/content/Home/SiteHome/Page 2/Blog
    Publishing Item: {AE76A034-9491-4B83-99F5-39F227D6FB59} Skipped /sitecore/templates/Sample/Sample Item/Data
    Publishing Item: {75577384-3C97-45DA-A847-81B00500E250} Skipped /sitecore/templates/Sample/Sample Item/Data/Title
    Publishing Item: {2AC61A5A-016B-4EF4-AD27-F7C2837937CC} Skipped /sitecore/templates/Sample/Sample Item/Data/Flag
    Publishing Item: {A60ACD61-A6DB-4182-8329-C957982CEC74} Skipped /sitecore/templates/Sample/Sample Item/Data/Text
    Looking at the above list, these three items are included for a reason. 

    Skipped:  /sitecore/content/Home
    Updated: /sitecore/content/Home/SiteHome
    Skipped:  /sitecore/content/Home/SiteHome/Page 2

    The Blog item is a related item for CTA item. In order to publish the related item "Blog", Sitecore parse the parent items till the Sitecore's root item (/sitecore), publish it first and then publish the Blog item. 

    Reason: In order to maintain the same content tree in the target database, Sitecore publishes every parent items of related item before publishing the related item. 


    The SiteHome item (version 2) which is in draft and has changes to a Shared field and the Shared Layout (__Renderings) are also published though it is not ready to be published. Sitecore publishes version 1 with Shared field changes to Target database.

    Any out of the box configuration? 

    Reached out to a Sitecore MVP and also raised Sitecore support to see if there is an out of the box option to skip these parent items if the target database already has the same content tree. There is no configuration available to skip these items. Sitecore support also agree that if the content tree is same in target database, there is no reason to publish these parent items and unnecessarily publish these staged shared field changes. 

    Sitecore support registered a feature request to change the default Sitecore behavior that can cause problems at the site by publishing changes that are not in the final workflow state so that it can be considered for future implementation and provided a reference number. 

    Possible approach to fix this issue:

    We can customize the <getItemReferences> pipeline to add a logic to allow a parent of related items to be published if it isn’t present in the target database. The processor "GetItemReferencesProcessor" can be tweaked to prevent publishing the parent items of the related item if the content tree matches with the source database. There will be a significant impact to the publish performance. I will create another blog once I have a working prototype with this implementation. 

    Comment if you have any thoughts on this article. 

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