Sharepoint 2013 : SharePoint Publishing Infrastructure (part 6) - Check In/Out, Versioning, and Content Approval

1/20/2015 7:50:02 PM

Check In/Out, Versioning, and Content Approval

If you followed the steps in the previous sections, you should have a publishing site and a new page instance—currently checked out and unpublished. Do not worry if you do not; I will walk you through content approval and versioning via one of the default published pages in the publishing site collection.

SharePoint publishing enables check-in and checkout on document libraries and lists. While you have a page checked out, no other content owner can edit the page. I will review the check-in and checkout process.

  1. Navigate to the root site of your publishing site.
  2. Ensure that you are signed in, if you have anonymous access enabled.
  3. Click the Page tab in the ribbon.
  4. Click the edit icon in the ribbon.
  5. SharePoint shows you the previous page open in WYSIWYG edit mode (Figure 13).


    Figure 13. Publishing page edit mode

  6. Make an edit to the page, such as adding content to one of the page areas.
  7. Click the Page tab on the ribbon.
  8. Click the save icon to save your changes.
  9. SharePoint shows you the rendered page, but with a yellow banner, indicating you have the page checked out.
  10. Either click the check-in link on the yellow bar or,
  11. Click the Page tab in the ribbon.
  12. Click the Check-in button.
  13. Provide a comment in the dialog and then click the Continue button.
  14. The page is now checked in.


By default, document libraries in publishing sites have major and minor versioning enabled. SharePoint includes three options for tracking the versions of documents and list items in document libraries and lists, as follows:

  • No versioning
  • Major only
  • Major and minor

No versioning is self-explanatory. Major version only tells SharePoint to keep a running count of integer value for the version number—each time you change and check in a document or list item, SharePoint increments the version number by one. Major and minor version works a little differently: this type of versioning consists of a numbering scheme as X.Y, where X is the major version number and Y is the minor version number. With each check-in, SharePoint increments the minor version number. Major version number increments have significance over minor version number increments in that major versions represent published content and minor versions represent draft-unpublished content.

Before I delve into an example of versioning, this is how to change the versioning method for any document library or list.

  1. Navigate to a document library or list.
  2. Click the Library or List tab in the ribbon.
  3. Click the icon for Library or List settings.
  4. Click the link for Versioning Settings.
  5. Figure 14 shows a screenshot of the versioning settings.


    Figure 14. Versioning settings for a list or library

  6. Ensure that major and minor versions are enabled.
  7. For now, turn off content approval.

Note  Notice in Figure 14 there is the option to toggle content approval, which I shall demonstrate shortly.

You should have checked out the default page, made a content change, and then checked in the file again. Since you have major and minor versions enabled (by default), SharePoint has incremented the version of the page from 1.0 to 1.1. Complete the following steps to view the version history of the site home page:

  • 8.   Navigate to the site home page (navigate to the site with no page specified).
  • 9.   Click the Page tab on the ribbon.
  • 10.   Click the icon for Page History.
  • 11.   SharePoint displays a page like that in Figure 15.


    Figure 15. Page version history

  • 12.   Depending on what you changed in the page, the version history page shows the content changes from each version (not Web Part change).

Since you are currently using major and minor versions and you last checked in the page as a minor version, the status of the page is unpublished. The following steps demonstrate how to publish the page to the next major version number—anonymous users and non–content owners see changes once you publish the page.

  • 13.   Navigate back to the page.
  • 14.   Click the Publish tab in the ribbon.
  • 15.   Click the Publish icon.
  • 16.   Navigate back to the version history page.
  • 17.   You should see that the version now shows version 2.0.

What happens if you use major versioning only? You shall find out in the following steps:

  • 18.   Navigate to the list/library settings page.
  • 19.   Click the link for Versioning Settings.
  • 20.   Change versioning to Major Only.
  • 21.   Return to the content page.
  • 22.   Click the Page tab.
  • 23.   Click the icon to edit the page.
  • 24.   Make a change and then check in the page.
  • 25.   Navigate to the version history page.
  • 26.   You should see the next version as 3.0, meaning the page is visible to non–content owners and anonymous users.

Content Approval

Without content approval enabled, minor version indicates a draft version of a document, page, or list item, and major version indicates a published status. Content approval adds workflow to ensure that content approvers in the organization approve content before publication. Figure 16 depicts the content approval flow.


Figure 16. Content approval process

The flow in Figure 16 is straightforward and includes three actors: the Author, Approver, and Administrator. You are probably already familiar with the author and administrator roles by now. I have not previously mentioned approvers—these are users with a specific set of permissions to approve content in the content approval workflow. SharePoint classifies a user as a content approver by the assignment of approval permissions or by membership in the site approvers group. The approvers group is a default SharePoint group with approval permissions assigned.

SharePoint had already created the approvers group and assigned the group approval permissions. Out of the box, publishing content approval workflow uses the approvers group to determine which users may approve a document. I will now return to the example and demonstrate content approval in action.

  1. Navigate to the home page of your publishing site.
  2. Click the Library tab in the ribbon.
  3. Click the icon for Library Settings.
  4. Click the link for Versioning Settings.
  5. Enable content approval for the Pages document library.
  6. Make sure to enable major/minor versioning.
  7. Return to the home page.
  8. Click the Page tab in the ribbon.
  9. Click the edit icon in the ribbon and make an edit to the page.
  10. Check in the page.
  11. Click the Publish tab in the ribbon.
  12. You should see an icon to submit the changes for approval; click it.
  13. Log in as a user with approval permissions (site owner, administrator, member of the approvers group).
  14. Click the Publish tab in the ribbon.
  15. You should see options to approve or reject changes.
  16. Click the Approve icon to approve the content and complete the publish step.

Content approval requires major and minor versioning enabled to work correctly. If you enable major versioning only, then pages, documents, or list items are either checked out for edit or published—there is no concept of checked in and draft.

Note  The content approval process, illustrated in Figure 16, requires both content approval and major/minor versioning enabled.

Sometimes the content owner has approval rights—perhaps he or she is an administrator or the site owner—in which case he or she can skip the step to submit changes for approval and jump directly to published by clicking the Approve button in the Publish tab of the ribbon.

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