Every now and then there is this question about how to integrate a dedicated preview instance into the typical “author – publish” setup. Some seem to be confused why there is no such instance in the default setups, which allows you to preview content exactly as ob publish, but just not visible yet to the public.
The simple answer to this is: There should be no need to have such a preview instance.
When creating content in AEM, you work in an full WYSIWYG environment, which means that you always should have perfect view of the context your content lives in.Everything should be usable, and even more complex UI interfaces (like single page applications) should allow you to have a proper preview. Even most integrations should work flawlessly. So getting the full picture should alwaysbe possible on authoring itself, and this must not be the reason to introduce a preview publish.
Another reason often brought up in these discussions are approvals. When authors finish their work, they need to get an approval by someone who is not familiar with AEM. The typical workflow is then outlined like “I drop herthe link, she clicks the link, checks the page and then responds with an OK or not. And then I either implement her remarks or activate the page directly”.
The problem here is that this is an informal workflow, which happens on a differnet medium(chat, phone, email) and which is not tracked within AEM. You don’t use the ways which are offered by the product (approval workflows), which leaves you without any audit trail. One could ask the question if you have a valid approval process at all then…
Then there’s the aspect of “Our approvers are not familar and not trained with AEM!”.Well, you don’t have to train them much of AEM. If you have SSO configured and the approvers get email notifications, approving itself is very easy: Click to the link on the inbox, select the item you want to preview, open it, review it and then click approve or reject in the inbox for it. You can definitely explain that workflow in a 5 minute video.
Is there no reason to justify a dedicated preview instance? I won’t argue that there will be never the need for such a preview instance, but in most cases you don’t need it. I am not aware of any right now.
If you think you need a preview instance: Please create a post over at the AEM forum, describe your scenario, ping me and I will try to show you that you can do it easier without it 🙂