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Experience Sitecore! | Item not published. Why? Let's troubleshoot that!

Experience Sitecore!

Martin Miles on Sitecore

Item not published. Why? Let's troubleshoot that!

Have you experienced that at least once? You perform publishing, and refresh the website with strong anticipation of new viewing fresh changes and.... not updated. Why? What's going on? Do not panic, let's carefully troubleshoot that step by step.
1. First, and most frequent reason for item tot being published is a case when item is in a workflow, and current workflow state is not final (ie. draft). For that scenario solution is pretty easy as there's nothing wrong - just follow the workflow until item gets to its final state and would be automatically published (that is configured as default behavior). If workflows are not part of your solution - just remove item's template and standard values out of workflow; as well as individual items manually configured; then re-publish.

2. If previous step dodn't help, find out is the item publishable at all? Check item's Publishing Restrictions. You may check that clicking Change button from Publish ribbon in Sitecore. Please find official documentation by this link, as it may be helpful to understand what Publishing Restrictions are and how they work; also there's another great article by John West about those restrictions. Ensure that your item either doesn't have time limit frames, or falls within them.

Most of publishing issues occur just because of inattentiveness. Are you publishing the right version of item? if that's about child items not being published, haven't you forgotten check Publish Subitems for that (or deep=true if publish from the code)? Are you publishing to the right target? Sure about this? OK for that, but what about that target in ConnectionsString.config, does it match desired database as well? All those questions may seem silly once, but still may hurt and stole fair portion of your time and efforts.

4. Next, do not forget about security and permissions. Here is the wide range of thing to consider! Can logged user perform publish, does he have enough permissions to do that? Check if user is in Sitecore Client Publishing role. Further, does default/anonymous user have access rights for the item (or any of its parents), aren't they removed? Not obvious, but publishing won't work otherwise. If publishing is scheduled and performed by the PublishAgent, does it have rights? Please read one more great article by John West.

5. Running on Publishing Instance (that's just a dedicated clone of CM instance, scaled by design for publishing performance on highly loaded environments)? Ensure it is up and running (lol! but sad truth of life).

6. Sill with us here? It's now time to check EventQueue. Ensure all your instances have the correct time set and synced. Just to remind, Sitecore internally stores everything in UTC format. but timezones should match as well. Check Event Queue settings and ScalabilitySettings.config as well.

7. Any issues with caches? Generally, the rule is: less cache you have, slower publishing is, with a bottom moment where it stops at all. Another silly assumption - aren't you running out of free space on system drive? Also make sure HtmlCacheClearer is added to your publish:end:remote event. It will produce a log record like that:

5760 19:57:16 INFO  HtmlCacheClearer clearing HTML caches for all sites

8. The last, quite a rare scenario: some of those curious experimenters like I am, who frequently install dozens of fresh instances of Sitecore for their sandbox trials, usually forget to initially publish entire site on a fresh install, so that it process all the required dependencies. Normally, I would not mention that, but still want to share as many cases as I know.

OK, so many things to consider? Agree with you, that's why I wrote that article, sort of cheat sheet in order to have it at my fingertips. But that's not all. Look for the general troubleshooting plan when something is not been published.

  • as given, item does not present there (on target), but what about its parent item? If missing, what about parent of the parent? Go to master database and carefully inspect the highest unpublished descendant, what isn't correct with it?
  • check workflows, publishing restrictions etc. mentioned above in the beginning of this article.
  • check logs for anything helpful
  • create a copy unpublished item and try to publish that one to the same destination.
  • create another new item of the same template and try to publish it. Succeeded with that?
  • delete and recreate that and related items (layouts, renderings, template) on target, and re-publish
  • handle publish:fail event and try to identify the reason; would be great to step into the method with debugger, if available.
Finally, (remember, I said no panic in the beginning), there is a buletproof solution as the last resort - copy items between databases manually. Go to Control Panel --> Database --> Move an item to another database, where you can move items between databases. One thing to mention - do not forget to update caches after you finish copying items to your target environment.

There are few more things I'd like to mention regarding publishing:

1. I would highly recommend The Published Item Comparer - a Sitecore module that quickly validates the current item in the content tree with the same item in a target database such as the “web” database; this helps to identify publishing issues effectively.

2. Unlike presented, Smart Publishing just cannot be trusted entirely, if reliability is your number one criteria - use re-publish instead.

Hope this post helps and wish your items always to appear on targets!

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