Schedule publishing and unpublishing via Scheduled Transitions

Set dates to publish or unpublish documents and HTML content.

Summary

This article shows you how to schedule HTML pages and documents to automatically publish or unpublish. This is especially useful if you know that your content is only relevant for a specific period of time. Telling the content management system (CMS) to unpublish content once it is no longer useful will keep the site from becoming cluttered with out-of-date information.

Scheduling content is deceptively powerful. It may require a little planning ahead of time. You can take any of these actions:

  • Schedule a date for new content to publish

  • Schedule a date for new content to unpublish

  • Schedule both dates

  • Schedule a time for a new draft of existing content to publish

  • Schedule a time for existing content to unpublish

Note: Scheduling of a document and of a page are 2 separate things: If you have a page that links to a document, and the page is scheduled for tomorrow, and your intent is for the document to also become available tomorrow when the page publishes, you need to schedule the 2 things individually.

There are special instructions to schedule publishing and unpublishing of Alerts and Promotional Pages. Read more about this below.

Scheduling new or updated content and documents

Step 1: Click on the “Scheduled Transitions” tab from any document or page.

The “Scheduled Transitions” tab only appears on content or documents that have been saved in Prepublished Draft, Draft, Unpublished or Published status. If you draft content and want to schedule it for publishing, you must save it as a draft first.

Scheduling content and documents to publish works the same way, except that the “Scheduled Transitions” tab appears in a slightly different spot on the horizontal navigation bar.

For documents, the tab displays to the right of “Edit.”

"Scheduled Transitions" tab

For content, the tab is between “Clone” and “Analytics.”

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The number in parentheses in the tab refers to how many scheduled transitions have been set up for that page or document.

Note: You’ll find a dropdown called Scheduling in the box on the right side of the editing interface. This used to be where you would schedule publishing or unpublishing, but now it takes you to the “Scheduled Transitions” tab. So you can bypass the Scheduling dropdown.

Scheduling dropdown

Step 2: Begin scheduling your document or content.

Once you click on the “Scheduled Transitions” tab, a blue bar that reads Add Scheduled Transition will appear. Click it.

Step 3: Execute transition, choose a date and time

Clicking on Add Scheduled Transition will result in a pop-up box appearing. It allows you to choose, via the Execute transition dropdown, whether you want to publish or unpublish. You’re also prompted to select a date and time to publish or unpublish.

Click Schedule Transition at the bottom of the pop-up box to apply those choices.

Step 4: Review scheduled transitions

Your scheduled transition will then display so that you can review it, and reschedule or delete the transition if need be.

All of your scheduled transitions will appear in this list.

Scheduled transitions

Another way to review scheduled transitions

You can also review scheduled transitions across all your pages or documents by clicking on the “Reports” tab in the horizontal navigation bar near the top of the screen.

"Reports" tab

Scroll down to Scheduled Transitions, and click it.

"Reports" tab

This will bring up a screen in which you can filter for scheduled transitions by Organization, Label, Author, and Content type.

An example of scheduling content publishing and unpublishing

Let’s say your organization holds an annual contest where it awards prizes for the best photo of black-capped chickadees. You announce the new winners on Dec. 31, each year. You currently have last year’s winners published in an Information Details page, but you already know who this year’s winners will be. You create a new draft of your Info Details winners page, and tell the CMS to publish it on Dec. 31.

In this scenario, last year’s contest winners would be published until the end of Dec. 30. Then, last year’s content would be automatically replaced with this year’s content.

Note that publishing and unpublishing times are not exact as the CMS will only start the process when the time is reached. The public may not notice the change for up to 35 minutes due to caching.

Scheduling Alerts and Promotional Pages

Alerts

The publishing of Alerts and Promotional Pages are affected uniquely as a result of scheduled transitions given that both require an unpublish date be set before they are published.

When creating an Alert you can access the “Scheduled Transitions” tab upon saving it as a draft. This lets you set an unpublish date up to 6 months out. You won't see the "Scheduled Transitions" tab until you save your content.

If you publish the Alert without setting an unpublish date, you’ll see a message on the screen telling you that it will unpublish in 14 days by default.

Click on the Reschedule transition link in that message and a pop-up will appear. There, you can reset the unpublish date up to 6 months out.

Click the Reschedule transition button at the bottom of the box to have your changes take effect.

Reschedule transition

Promotional Pages

Promotional Pages by default now unpublish after 180 days if the author doesn’t set a date manually via the “Scheduled Transitions” tab. The unpublish date can be set for up to 14 months out.

The reason limits are put on such content is to help prevent it from getting stale. Authors receive email notifications when content is set to unpublish, giving them the chance to allow that to happen or refresh it if it should remain on Mass.gov.

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