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Staging versus Production

Two terms you'll hear referenced frequently are "staging server" and "production server." OU Campus is a decoupled system, which means where you edit pages and where live web pages are displayed are two separate locations.

A flow chart. The first step is blue users at computers, labeled "CMS Users." This leads to a computer labeled "OU Campus (staging server)." Then the text "Publish" leads to a gray computer labeled "College Website (Production Server)" which finally leads to gray computer users labeled "Web Visitors."

Everything you do in OU Campus is on the staging server, and none of the changes you make (with a few exceptions) appear on the production server, the live website, until you publish them. This gives you the freedom to make as many changes as you want in OU Campus pages without worrying about what the website looks like in the meantime. Some different instances of how this is useful:

  • Creating web pages in advance of announcements or updates and scheduling to publish them on a specific date.
  • Writing a draft of content on a page and sending it to another user to look over before publishing.
  • Making changes to a page, deciding you don't like them, and either not publishing or reverting the page to a previous version.

As a general rule, OmniUpdate is only responsible for OU Campus on your staging server. Your live website and the production server are the responsibility of your institution and the web hosting service.

Options for how your OU Campus account communicates with the production server are available in site settings, including access to the production server. It is very important that any users who you want to to publish pages have this access, otherwise they encounter errors when attempting to publish content.

Viewing and Accessing ProductionLink to this section

Nearly all of what you see when working in OU Campus is hosted on the staging server. This includes all pages and files, assets, snippets, and other kinds of content, as well as users and other administration options.

However, you can also view what files are on the production server. While viewing Content > Pages, toggle between staging and production using the buttons in the upper-right corner.

An orange arrow points to two buttons labelled "Staging" and "Production." When viewing files in production, clicking on the name of the file opens up that page or file on your live website.

Does it look like there's way more files on production than on staging? If you're seeing files with the same name but different extensions (e.g. /academics.html and /academics.pdf) then your pages probably have multiple products. When a page is published, it creates not just a web page but other files, such as a PDF version of the page or XML data. This is determined by the page template.

When inserting a link, image, or other media, by default the filechooser shows you files available on the staging server. However, you can switch to content hosted on the production server instead, by using the dropdown in the top-right corner of the box.

Next to the "Upload" button is a dropdown. The options are "Environments: Staging, Production" and "Auxiliary Sites"You can also switch to an auxiliary site this way, as one of the most common uses of auxiliary sites is storing images and media for use on other websites.

File ManagementLink to this section

If you are not using binary management for your images, PDFs, and other binary files, then they only exist on the production server.

Files on the production server can be viewed, renamed, moved, and deleted by users levels 8 and above. It is recommended to not rename or move files on production unless they don't exist on staging, as this causes discrepancies between the two servers that need manual review to be fixed.

Deleting content from the production server is permanent and cannot be undone.