When Web Content Goes Wrong
Have you ever assigned someone to create content for a few web pages and later discovered they did something like this?
(Yes, this is a real site. At the time of this screenshot it lived at angelfire.com/super/badwebs.)
Workflow Can Solve Quality Control Issues
- Reviewer vets content before publication.
- Can fix content or send it back for revision.
- Prevents bad surprises.
Plone's Default Workflow States
In Plone's default workflow a content item can be in one of three states:
... and What they Mean
- Private: Visible only to those logged in.
- Pending (Pending review): Reviewer publishes or sends back to author.
- Published: Publicly visible.
The State Menu
It's easy to tell the state of an item in Plone by looking at the State menu when logged in:
Develop the habit of checking the state menu when working with content. Content types will not appear for the public on your website unless they are published.
Let's take a closer look at how these states work...
Workflow States and Navigation
When you are logged in, you will see this same color coding in navigation and folder listings, such as in this folder_contents view:
Non-authenticated users (those not logged into your site) will see only published items.
Reviewing Content Before it Goes Public
Individuals whose job it is to check content before it is published have the role of Reviewer in Plone.
When content providers are ready to have their work checked, they Submit for publication. The content is now Pending review.
In Plone's default workflow, if you are not a Reviewer (or site Manager), you cannot publish your own content.
From Pending Review to Published
If content that is pending review needs no further changes before going public, the Reviewer can Publish it.
Reviewers Can Publish Directly
Reviewers (and site Managers) can publish their own content. They do not need to submit it for publication.
Sending Pending Content Back
The Reviewer can send back to the author content that needs more work before it's ready to be published.
Sending Published Content Back
The Reviewer also can send published content back to the author for revision. The author then must submit it for publication after revising.
Retracting Content that is Pending
The author of a content item can decide it needs more work and retract it from the pending state. The author must then submit it again when he/she feels that it is ready.
Retracting Published Content
The author (or the Reviewer) also can retract published content.
This workflow may serve your site well if you want to vet each new piece of content before it goes live. For many organizations, that's important.
However, on a lot of sites, it is too restrictive.
For one thing, workflows requiring content to be retracted before editing can lead to puzzling and inconvenient experiences for users. If published content is retracted, end users landing upon it will face a login prompt!
And consider this question: Is it necessary within your organization to check every news item, event, and page on your site before it is published? If so, do you have a team that will handle this so that no one individual becomes a bottleneck?
The reality is, overly busy content editors and site managers can end up becoming click monkeys—they resort to clicking Publish without checking content just to keep information moving through the publishing cue.
So to summarize, workflows requiring all content to be reviewed before publication and retraction of live content for editing can present the following issues:
- Too restrictive for many sites.
- Non-authenticated users may attempt to navigate to retracted content.
- Reviewers can turn into click monkeys.
Sometimes Simpler is Better
If you don't want to be a click monkey, and you don't want to inconvenience users by retracting live content, a much simpler workflow may work better for your site:
In this workflow, anyone with permissions (see Users, Groups, and Permissions) can publish content. Content can be edited while published, and anyone with permissions can retract content when it is no longer relevant.
You may also want to maintain a stricter workflow on web pages but have a simpler workflow for news items and events. Work with your site administrator to put in place the workflow that best serves your web presence.
CMF Placeful Workflow
Plone comes with a workflow policy tool called CMF Placeful Workflow. This tool makes it possible to set up different workflows on different areas of your site.
With this tool, you can
- Set up workflow policies on a folder-by-folder basis.
- Create an Intranet, Extranet on your site.
Activating CMF Placeful Workflow
CMF Placeful Workflow is listed with Add-ons in Site Setup. Check the box next to it, and click Activate to make it available on your site:
Viewing Workflow Policies
Once CMF Placeful Workflow is installed, look for the Workflow policies link under the Add-on Configuration heading on the main Site Setup page. This link leads you to the prefs_workflow_localpolicies_form:
This shows the policies available site-wide. You can also use this form to add custom policies (we'll cover how to create a custom policy in Workflow Management).
Applying a Policy to a Folder Using CMF Placeful Workflow
Supposing you want to create an Intranet within your site. First, create a folder for your Intranet. Then, using the State menu on that folder, select Policy:
Selecting the Folder's Policy
You can then select Intranet as the policy for this folder and folders beneath it (any folders contained within your Intranet).
Plone provides a number of tools that can help you to monitor content activity on your site. Consider using these tools in conjunction with workflow:
Some Final Advice
- Start simple.
- Add restrictions as needed.
- Make the best use of the other tools.
- Train and document how your content should be managed.