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About the Staging and Production Servers

Where do files go when they are published? You may wonder why you always edit your PCF pages but the page extension in your URL ends in .PHP. What’s going on here?

The Staging server

All page editing is done one the Staging server. You can save your work to retain your changes, but that work will not be publicly viewable. You must publish the page to see your work on the live website.

About the PCF

When you log into Omni and click the Content button at the top of the page to get to the server view, you will see the PCF files in that folder. PCF stands for Publish Control File. If you are editing the main content section of your website, then you are editing a PCF file.

Newly created folders won’t have PCF files yet because pages haven’t been created yet.

The Production server

This is the live website content. The pages on this server are publicly viewable. The only way to push a page from Staging to Production is to save your work and then publish the page.

About the PHP page

Once you save and publish your page you’ll see a notice at the bottom of your page asking if you want to view in a new window.

Clicking this link will open your published page in a new tab. When you look at the published page’s URL you’ll notice that the extension is .PHP. What’s happening here is that the PCF file you edited has been compiled to a .PHP file and that file was pushed to the Production server.

If you need to see the published page file, click on the Production tab. This is also where you would go to get the live page URL by clicking on the view button. This does the same thing as the “view in a new window” link.

No PHP extension for a page

You may see the URL and it doesn’t have the .PHP extension or any extension at all—it’s just the folder name followed by “/”.

(e.g., www.vanderbilt.edu/test/about/ vs www.vanderbilt.edu/test/about/index.php)

Both of the links in the example are the same page. Each folder has an index.php which is the the home directory for that folder. You can link to the index.php page by just having the slash (“/”) at the end. Each directory has only one index.php page which functions as the default home page file for that directory. All of the other published page files on the Production server will have the .PHP  extension.You can learn more about index files in the breadcrumb links article.

Note: The address path for your pages will follow these file naming rules unless you have worked with Web Comm to have a custom link created.

Files

Document files (PDF, .DOCX, .XLSX, ect) are usually located in a folder called “files” in your main directory. Picture files (JPG, GIF, PNG) are usually located in the “images” folder in your main directory. See this article on how to upload images to Omni.

Files uploaded to the Staging Server

So far we have talked about PCF and PHP files, but how are document and image file uploads handled? Most of our Omni websites will upload document and image files directly to the Production server. However, a small percentage of sites have the Binary Manager enabled so these files are uploaded to Staging first and will need to be Published in order to be publicly viewable .

To Publish document or image files on the Staging server:

  • Click on the checkbox to the left of the file name
  • Click the Publish button at the top

Files on the Production Server

Most sites are set up to automatically upload document and image files directly to the Production server. If that’s the case, then you won’t see these files in the Staging tab.

Note the server listed in the file browser

When you edit a page, and link to a file or image, take note of which server you are looking on in the file browser. Here we are browsing for files on the Production server, so the files we include on our published page will be publicly viewable.

Closing Notes

So to wrap up, when you are editing the main content section of your web page, you are editing a PCF file on the Staging server. The PCF files must be published to the Production server to make your updates publicly viewable. Publishing your page will create a PHP version on the Production server tab.

Document and image files are uploaded to the Production server automatically on most of our Omni websites. However, if your files are uploaded to the Staging server, then you will need to publish them to Production to make them publicly viewable.