Configuring content staging

Configuration of staging consists of the following parts:

  1. Source server configuration - configuration of the server from which changes will be transferred to the target servers.
  2. Target server configuration - configuration of the server to which changes will be transferred from the source servers.
  3. Configuring servers to correctly stage data with macros

You also need to ensure that all instances use the same settings (page types, templates, web parts …), code files, and that both servers use the same version of Kentico.

Configuring the source server

To configure a Kentico instance as a source server, you first need to enable logging of staging tasks. Open the Settings application, and adjust the settings in the Versioning & synchronization -> Staging category.

  • Log content changes - if enabled, synchronization tasks are automatically logged when content (a page) is modified.
  • Log data changes - if enabled, synchronization tasks are automatically logged when custom tables data is modified.
  • Log object changes - if enabled, synchronization tasks are automatically logged when supported objects are modified.
  • Log staging changes - if enabled, synchronization tasks are logged for changes made by synchronization from another server to this server. See Bi-directional content staging for more details.
  • Log export tasks - if enabled, tasks are logged for the export feature when an object is deleted (incremental update support).

With these settings enabled, the system logs all changes to the corresponding content as staging tasks. These tasks can then be transferred to the target servers and performed there to synchronize the content.

Defining target servers

To specify the target servers, open the Staging application and select the Servers tab.

Notes:

  • The system only logs staging tasks if at least one target server is created and enabled.

  • Multi-site source servers - on instances with multiple sites, you need to define target servers separately for each site whose content or objects you plan to stage. Use the site selector in the main header of the administration interface to switch between sites.

  • Target sites running in a web farm - if the target site is running in a web farm environment, only register one of the web farm's instances as a target server for staging. Staged changes automatically apply to all servers in the web farm due to the shared database and synchronization mechanisms. If possible, set the service URL of the staging server using a direct connection to the selected web farm server rather than the load balancer covering the entire web farm.

Add servers by clicking New server. Set the following properties for each staging server:

Staging server properties Description

Display name

Name of the server displayed to users in the administration interface.
Code name Unique identifier of the server.
Server service URL
_________________________

Enter the root URL of the target Kentico instance, i.e. the protocol, domain, and virtual directory (if necessary). For example: http://www.targetserver.com

The system automatically builds the full service URL by appending /CMSPages/Staging/syncserver.asmx to the value.

Click Check server availability to confirm whether the entered URL is available.

Important: When defining servers on instances with multiple sites, the service URLs of each site's servers must use the domain names of the matching site on the target server.

Enabled

If checked, the system generates synchronization tasks for the server. You can temporarily disable the server by disabling this flag, for example during server maintenance.

Server authentication

Server authentication settings. Configure according to the settings of the given target server (described below). The default user name is admin and the default password is pass.

If you want to use X509 authentication, see Using X.509 authentication.

Note: After you enter and save a password, the field always displays 8 "masking" characters, even if the password is longer or shorter. This measure helps protect your password.

Configuring the target servers

On the target server, the staging service is disabled by default. You need to adjust the following settings in Settings -> Versioning & synchronization -> Staging:

  • Enable staging service - enables the staging service for the given site.
  • Staging service authentication - we recommend starting with Username and password authentication first, testing the synchronization, and then optionally configuring the site for X509 certificates.
    • USERNAME - username/password authentication (fast, recommended for data without high security requirements).
    • X509 - X509 certificate authentication (more secure, slower, requires certificates). See: Using X.509 authentication
  • Staging service username and password - username and password for the Username and password authentication.
  • Server key ID and Client key ID - certificate keys for the X509 authentication.

Configuring servers to stage data containing macros

The system uses signatures to ensure the security of macro expressions. Macro signatures contain the user name of the macro's author and a hash of the given expression. The hash function used to create the signatures appends a salt to the input. The salt value depends on the configuration of individual applications, so the signatures are only valid in the environment where the macros were originally saved.

To allow macros to work correctly on all staging servers, you need to assign the same custom hash salt to all servers:

  • Set the CMSHashStringSalt key in the appSettings section of the web.config file to the same value on all staging servers. You can use any string as the value, but the salt should be random and at least 16 characters long. For example, a randomly generated GUID is a strong salt:

    <add key="CMSHashStringSalt" value="e68b9ad6-a461-4707-8e3e-ece73f03dd02" />

The best option is to set the hash salt value before you start creating content for your website. Changing the salt causes all current hash values to become invalid. To fix existing macro expressions in the system after changing the hash salt, you need to re-sign the macros. See Working with macro signatures for more information.

Warning: In addition to macro signatures, the system uses the CMSHashStringSalt value for other hash functions. Changing the hash salt on a website that already has defined content may break dialog links and images on your website. If you encounter such problems, you need to re-save the given content (the system then creates the hashes using the new salt).

Customizing staging via event handlers

Developers can use event handlers to modify or extend the staging functionality. See the following pages for more information:


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