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When working with the content modules in Sitefinity, we can either directly publish items that we create, or save them as drafts. Those operations create some different versions of the same content behind the scenes, and use a concept that we call content lifecycle. In this blog post we are going to use the API to perform these operations and compare it with doing the same through the user interface.
Content lifecycle governs whether an item is visible in the frontend, and whether it is being edited. There are three lifecycle states of an item – master, temp and live. When persisting items in the database, Sitefinity creates one row for each state. You can think of lifecycle states as separate versions of an item. An important characteristic of lifecycle is that an item can be in more than one state at a time (can have several versions). The meaning of each state (item version) is defined in the following table:
|Master||The default state of an item. Items are always created in Master state first (they always have a master version). Master versions are not visible in the frontend.|
|Live||An item, which is visible in the frontend. Once an item is published through the UI, Sitefinity creates a live version by copying the item from the master version (the master version still stays)|
|Temp||An item that is being edited by a CMS user. When you open the edit screen, a temp version for the item is created by copying the Master version.
The diagram shows how an item moves between the different lifecycle states. The circles represent states, and the arrows represent operations on the item. Each operation triggered by the user interface or API moves an item between states. As we mentioned, those states are actually different versions of an item. To illustrate this, let’s take a look at the state of the database and user interface after each operation. We will use the News module as an example
We’ve gone through the above steps by explicitly saving the item as draft to illustrate the lifecycle. We can also directly publish the item through the UI, and Sitefinity will perform the two operations together in the same order. There will be no difference in the state transitions between those two cases.
Understanding the concept of content lifecycle is important when working with items through the API. All the code samples in the Developers Guide take it into account. We also have a section which explains how to work with different item versions. Some item operations, however (like scheduling) cannot be performed through the lifecycle alone. They fall into the realm of workflow, which we’ll take a look at in another blog post.
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