Deploy Preview Links
Netlify CMS 2.4.0 brings deploy preview links!
Seeing is believing
The editorial workflow allows editors to create draft content in Netlify CMS, and Netlify can provide deploy previews of draft content, but there hasn't been a way to access links to these preview builds from within Netlify CMS. The preview pane in the editor is a good tool for seeing how content will look on the site, but in the words of Marvin Gaye, "ain't nothing like the real thing!" As Mr. Gaye bemoaned the absence of his beloved, so content creators long for the warm embrace of an actual production build. Their words, not ours.
Solution: GitHub Statuses
For sites using the GitHub (or Git Gateway with GitHub) backend, we now have deploy preview links in the CMS using the GitHub Statuses API. Many static sites already have continuous deployment and deploy previews configured on their repo, and they often use statuses to provide a link to a deployment directly from a commit or pull request. To retrieve a commit status that provides a deploy preview URL, we check for a status whose "context" contains one of a list of keywords commonly associated with deploy previews.
If a status is not found, nothing happens in the UI. If a status is found, but the deploy preview isn't ready, we provide a "Check for Preview" link, allowing the content editor to manually check back until the preview is ready:
When the preview is ready, the "Check for Preview" button is replaced with a link to the content:
Deploy preview links generally direct to the root of a site, but Netlify CMS can also link straight to the piece of content being edited. By providing a string template for each collection, you can get links that go right where editors expect them to. More complex URL's can be constructed using date information from your content files.
Unpublished vs. published
If you're not using the editorial workflow, you may not feel you need this very much. Whenever you
save content, it's immediatlely published, so you can navigate to your live site to see the changes.
That said, it's at least convenient to have a link direct to your content from the CMS, so deploy
preview links can also work for CMS installs that do not use the editorial workflow. Instead of
retrieving a URL from a commit status, this functionality requires setting a
site_url in your
config, and that URL is used in place of the deploy preview URL.
GitLab and Bitbucket
Support is coming soon for these two awesome backends! Stay tuned.