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I'm looking to upgrade our production environment to 8.1 initial, then 8.1 update 3. Unfortunately, one of the last steps is doing a full publish of the site. My problem is that our Content Authors have made a lot of changes that can't go live yet. Can i skip that step or will it break the site?

Perhaps I can just publish the system node or maybe the templates as well, but leave the content area the way it is and have the CA's publish when it's time. I asked support, but they said it was never tested that way and I should just follow the steps.

My problem is I can't upgrade if I have to publish the full site.

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You should use Publish restrictions to set the versions of the items that should not go live to unpublishable for now.

Select the item and click the Change button on the Publish tab:

Change publish restrictions

Then disable the publishing on the version of the item you don't want published:

Disable Publishing

That way a full site publish will not publish the content you can't push live yet.

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    Agree, but it's worth nothing that Shared/Unversioned fields will still get published, so if content includes these types of fields and you publish, those changes will be reflected in the target. – jammykam Aug 31 '17 at 16:23
  • I am worried that there is a lot of unversioned content items and secondly I don't know all the edits they may have made, so is there a way to disable publishing on the entire content node in one shot? Also, does anyone know why we need to publish entire site after upgrade? – jed Sep 1 '17 at 14:39
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You could try to clone the current production environment on a different environment (Local or Dev), Then Publish only templates, System, Layouts nodes, Then continue the upgrade process, If everything works out well and no errors in the logs, Then you can go back to the production environment and do the same.

I would suggest in future upgrade that you do the upgrade process on separate environment than Production, And once its done, you can refresh the content from original production server through Serialization or sitecore packages, then switch to use the new upgraded environment.

Hope this helps.

  • I figured I might need to do your first point with cloning our prod environment and might be what I end up doing first. I've run the upgrade through my local, dev, and test and didn't seem to have much issue, but never thought to publish only certain areas in my deployments. – jed Sep 1 '17 at 15:13
  • As far as your second point, if you upgrade a separate environment, then serialize all your content, your content items will be all from the old environment and I'm not sure you still want them. If that is ok, then I don't see any harm in just not publishing them in the first place. This would suggest the upgrade doesn't do anything to the content. – jed Sep 1 '17 at 15:13
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You can make use of the Sitecore Publish Exclusion available at marketplace.

This tool allows you to select an item or the parent and exclude it when publishing is being performed.

Also, there is an option which allows you to exclude the excluded item. For example, suppose you have Container A and you put an exclusion on it and you want that some of its sub items get published, you can exclude those items.

The module has 4 types of publishing mode namely

  1. Incremental

  2. Smart

  3. Full

  4. Item

So, you can disable the publishing of the excluded items for specific publishing mode.

Finally, when using Incremental publishing, the Sitecore Publish Queue is used. Any item that has been published, will not be process through the next incremental publish. The module has a setting which allows you to send the item back to the publish queue if it is excluded.

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