Tridion Target Types

In the Tridion publishing model, we have publications, publication targets, and target types. End-users can publish content from a "grouping" of content called a publication (optionally publishing to any child publications at the same time), to publication targets which typically send content to websites. However, I've heard a legend-of-sorts where a Tridion customer published to files which eventually ended up on CDs (compact disc, not content delivery!) and were then driven to the destination to be physically loaded to the actual presentation servers. 

The specific publication targets aren't visible during publishing. Users will see something like "Live" or "Preview" as the target type(s) to publish to.

I get nervous when I see target types other than the basic "Live" and "Preview." The specific terms don't matter so much--in other words, other words like "Production," "Staging," or "Acceptance" could be used. What jars me is when we occasionally have target types that aren't logical or based on an environment.

For example, I've seen target types such as:
  • Pre-Production
  • Test
  • {SiteName} Server 3
Maybe I missed the point in our original training, but I really think the Target Types should describe the logical environment or "layer" rather than a specific website, or worse a specific server in a farm.

The only environment where it might be okay to cheat with this is on the developer laptops and the development (dev) Tridion CMS. We re-use the developer broker database between dev machines and dev presentation servers  (a big no-no, I know), but we still need to publish physical content to the laptops. To avoid having content published to all the laptops at the same time (and likely failing), we've created individual target types--one for each developer machine--to make this work. It's messy and makes the dev broker database untrustworthy, though it's an okay work-around considering the dev machines aren't always on like real presentation servers.

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