Power Authors Part 3: Troubleshooting Tridion Pages

In my last post, we looked at authoring rights and responsibilities.

I just spent a few weeks working with authors, making content updates, and helping when things didn't seem to work out just right. So let me end this three-part series with some practical Tridion publishing troubleshooting tips that are fresh in my mind.

First, the basics:

  1. First basic check is to confirm your CMS environment and publication target (website).
  2. Ask yourself, "which publication am I in?"
  3. Then start backwards or forwards, comparing to known working examples.

  • Forwards is useful when troubleshooting functionality, fixing specific content, or reviewing an author's experience. Use this when you know how the content model works.
  • Backwards is useful when investigating why something is showing (or not showing) on the website as expected. Use these steps when the wrong language shows up on a site, links don't work or appear, or content doesn't display correctly. I'm forced to use this when there isn't documentation or the system has been updated since the original functional design.

Backwards Page Troubleshooting Checklist

For example, let's start at the end. Backwards page review:
  • Does the page show your latest changes?
  • Is it the right page and content?
  • Is the page checked in (no lock icon)?
  • Is the page published at all? Look for the icon.
  • Is it published to your specific Publication Target (Target Type for authors)?
  • Did the page have changes since it was published?
  • As a shortcut for the above, you could Save & Close the items in the Content Manager and publish.
  • Open the page, editing its parent if prompted.
  • Is it actually the right page based on its path and filename? 
  • Is the page template and metadata correct?
  • If functionality is controlled by a "Navigation" page, has it been published for your target?
If the page seems okay, look into the content. Especially for translation, be sure you're looking at the correct Component for that Publication.

The Multilingual Surprise

If content related, open the page in shared mode, especially for translated content and pages. Otherwise you may miss child translated content as you look at parent versions of components. This will happen in most multilingual setups where shared master pages point to global shared content, but content is localized in a translation layer as seen below:

  • 020 Global Content (us-EN)
  • 030 Translated Language (ca-EN) (translated from 020)
  • 040 Master Site (acme) (content from 020)
  • 050 Site (acme.com) (content from 020 and pages from 040)
  • 050 Site (acme.ca) (content from 030 with pages from 040 or ".com")

When you edit a Page in 050 using "Edit Parent," you get access to 040 Pages with Components coming from 020. To really see translated content from within the page, you need to open the local version the page (in read only mode), so that the Component Presentations are using already-translated Components.

Tip: if you're ever not promoted to edit parent, you're editing a local or localized item.

Component Troubleshooting Checklist

  • Is the correct Component Presentation on the page?
  • Is it the right Component Template?
  • Correct Component?
  • Is it checked in?
  • Are the fields right? 
  • Less likely, but is the schema right?
As a shortcut for the above, use Where Used and BluePrint viewer (hierarchy).
The BP viewer is like GPS for an item. But most of my recent authors don't use it. Why? It's the Parking Garage scenario, but for an office. Once you know where the bathroom is, you don't need directions or someone to point it out. You just walk the floors (BluePrint and folder tree) on your own.

Template-Placed Content?

Finally, does the presented content you're troubleshooting really belong to a given Tridion Page and/or its Components? Global settings, code, and "labels" may come from other Tridion items such as Structure Groups or Publications or even from other systems.

If you know how the content model works, this should be quick and relatively painless. Unfortunately for Tridion consultants new to a setup, it can take some time to understand a given content model. Familiar patterns, common practices, and the backwards approach above can help get you up to speed.

Quick Checklist (for Tridion Consultants)

For those familiar with Tridion the quick check becomes:
  1. Check environments.
  2. Check-in and Publish to be sure.
  3. Check page and components for details, missing Component Presentations, and correct fields.
  4. Check content using Where Used.
  5. Check metadata for functionality.
Have any practical advice for troubleshooting or favorite "gotcha" stories? Please share in the comments.