Using Site Pages Variations

Let’s say you’re working on a product-oriented site where you’ll have several major changes to a page or a set of pages over a short period of time. Also you need to be working on multiple versions of the site at the same time to ensure everything has been properly reviewed before it goes live. With staging, you can do this using Page Variations.

Notice that there are two page variation options available from the Staging bar: Site Pages Variation and Page Variations. Site Pages Variation is used to create different variations for the set of site pages. For instance, you could use this if you had three separate pages and wanted to modify these pages while keeping them together as a set. The Page Variations option only works with a single page.

For example, you can create several site pages variations, enabling the marketing team to give your site a completely different look and feel for Christmas. At the same time, the product management team can work on a different version that will be published the day after Christmas for the launching of a new product. Additionally, the product management team is considering two different ideas for the home page of the site, so they can create several page variations of the home page inside their product launch site.

Variations only affect pages and not the content, which means all the existing content in your staging site is shared by all your variations. In different site page variations, you can have different logos, different look and feel for your pages, different applications on these pages, different configuration of these applications and even different pages. One page can exist in just one site page variation or in several of them. Modifying the layout type (e.g., Layout, Panel, Embedded, etc.) or friendly URL of a page, however, does affect every site page variation.

You must enable page versioning when turning on Local or Remote Live staging. You can enable page versioning for public and private pages. When you turn staging on with page versioning enabled, the page variation options are available in the staging menu bar. By default, you only have one site page variation and page variation which are both called Main Variation. To create a new one, select the Options icon (Options) in the Staging bar and select the variation option. For example, select the Site Pages Variation option. This brings you to a list of the existing site page variations for your site. Click Add Site Pages Variation to create a new one.

Figure 1: When selecting the Site Pages Variation link from the staging toolbar, youre able to add and manage your site pages variations.

Figure 1: When selecting the *Site Pages Variation* link from the staging toolbar, you're able to add and manage your site pages variations.

From the Add Site Pages Variation screen, you can set a Name, Description, and also set your new variation to copy the content from an existing variation. There are several options to choose in this selector.

All Site Pages Variations: creates a new variation that contains the last version marked as ready for publication from any single page existing in any other variation.

None (Empty Site Pages Variation): creates a new, empty variation.

Main Variation: creates a new site page variation that contains only the last version of all the pages that exist in this variation. The current variation must be marked as ready for publication.

You are also able to rename any variation. For example, edit the Main Variation and change its name to something that makes more sense in your site, such as Basic, Master, or Regular and create a variation for.

You can switch between different variations by clicking on them from the staging menu bar. It’s also possible to set permissions on each variation, so certain users have access to manage some, but not all variations.

You can now go to the home page of your Christmas variation and change the logo, apply a new theme, move applications around, change the order of the pages and configure different apps. The other variations won’t be affected. You can even delete existing pages or add new ones (remember to Mark as Ready for Publication when you are finished with your changes).

To publish a variation to the live site, click on Publish to Live in the staging menu and then select Publish to Live. Publications can also be scheduled independently for different variations. For example, you could have a variation called Mondays which is published to the live site every Monday and another one called Day 1 which is published to the live site every first day of each month.

You can also have variations for a single page inside a site page variation, which allows you to work in parallel in different versions of a page. For example, you might work on two different proposals for the design of the home page for the Christmas variation. These page variations only exist inside a site page variation.

To create a new page variation, click Page Variations on the staging toolbar. This brings you to a list of existing page variations for the current page (by default, there is only one called Main Variation). You can create more or rename the existing one. You can switch between different page variations using the dropdown menu on the staging toolbar. When you decide which page variation should be published, mark it as Ready for Publication. Only one page variation can be marked as ready for publication and that is the one that gets published to the live site.

For example, you could create a page variation called Thanksgiving for a page inside of the Christmas variation and another one called Christmas Day to display different content on those particular days.

Figure 2: This is an example of a Thanksgiving page variation.

Figure 2: This is an example of a Thanksgiving page variation.

Another powerful feature is the possibility of merging Site Pages Variations. To merge two Site Pages Variations, you need to go to the Site Pages Variation screen. From there, click on Merge on the Site Pages Variation you want to use as the base. You will be asked to choose the Site Pages Variation to merge on top of it. Merging works in the following way:

  • New pages that don’t exist in the base Variation will be added.
  • If a page exists in both Site Pages Variations, and at least one version of the page was marked as ready for publication, then the latest version marked as ready will be added as a new Page Variation in the target page of the base Variation. (Note that older versions or page variations not marked as ready for publication won’t be copied. Merge can be executed, however, as many times as needed and will create the needed pages variations in the appropriate page of the base Site Pages Variation).
  • Merging does not affect content nor will overwrite anything in the base Variation, it will just add more versions, pages and page variations as needed.

Liferay DXP’s staging environment is extremely easy to use and makes maintaining a content-rich web site a snap. You’ll learn about scheduling web content next.

« Using the Staging EnvironmentScheduling Web Content Publication »
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