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Is it possible to use workflow to control which publishing targets an item can be published to? I guess you could write a custom workflow action which would programmatically alter the publish targets, but is there some built-in way, or perhaps a better solution?

Ideally, I would like a preview workflow state which would allow publishers to the web DB and then a final state which allows publishing to the webCD DB.

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I believe that this has been possible out of the box since Sitecore 7.2 (I've seen it in use but never implemented it myself).

The Sitecore article for this for Sitecore 7.2 is here - a more up to date version can be found here.

Notably:

  1. A workflow state definition item has a 'Preview publishing targets' field, designating the targets an item may be published to before the final state

  2. If no publishing targets are selected, items in the state cannot be published ahead of the final state.

  3. Publishing targets have a new 'Preview publishing target' checkbox. Items checked with this will be available as options in the workflow state (default unchecked)

  4. If an item is not in the final workflow state but is in a state which has one or more preview publishing targets set, the editor warning informs the user what targets the item may be published to.

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