Umbraco Preview Mode: Pros and Cons
Published: September 27, 2018 (8 min read)
As an Umbraco Certified Gold Partner, it’s no secret that we’re pretty passionate about Umbraco. The Umbraco CMS is powerful, flexible, and scalable. Sites of all sizes have been built on the Umbraco platform, from small “Mom & Pop” shops to major corporations and brands. At Fyin.com, we have built hundreds of sites using the Umbraco CMS.
Site visitors browsing the web are limited to viewing what the public sees. As seasoned web developers, we know what’s happening behind the curtain. We like to say that we do Umbraco differently, meaning that we use the CMS as a building block and add our own creativity, enhancements, and yes, sometimes even shortcuts to make life easier for our client partners.
Since the Umbraco CMS offers the flexibility to build websites in many different ways, it’s worth noting that not all Umbraco features (those that are native to the CMS) are applicable on every site. The preview tool is one of those features. It allows a site editor to see how a particular page will look on different devices and at different resolutions. For straightforward sites without a lot of moving parts, viewing the site in preview mode generally works just fine.
For more complex sites, such as the ones we commonly build, we recommend bypassing the preview tool (at least for the currently-available versions of Umbraco). If a given page is comprised of multiple nodes (which is definitely a benefit for site owners and editors), the preview mode may only show a single unpublished node. Therefore, it will not give you a 100% accurate representation of what your page will look like when live.
What can you do instead?
If you’ve just built a new page that isn’t quite ready for prime time, one option is to set it as a hidden page and then publish it. You can then view the page at its actual URL. Once you’re happy with your new page, you can simply turn off the “hide” setting.
If you publish a new page on a live (not hidden) URL and then find that it needs more work, you can simply unpublish it. Another option is to use Umbraco’s rollback feature if you’ve published changes on a previously live page and then decided to revert to an earlier version.
Finally, you can also create a sandbox within your Umbraco account so that you can test a page thoroughly before publishing it for the world to see. Your Umbraco partner can help you with this.
Umbraco HQ is gearing up for a major release in 2019: Umbraco 8. We expect to see an enhanced preview in v8 that should provide some additional usefulness for many users.
If you’re an Umbraco user and have questions about the preview feature, feel free to reach out to us. We’re happy to help!