Introduction to Google Tag Manager Workspaces

Introduction to versioning in GTM

Before understanding the concept of workspaces, it is important to understand how versioning works in GTM.

In GTM a ‘version’ refers to the snapshot of a GTM container, made at a particular time.

This snapshot can be created by clicking on the ‘Submit’ button in your GTM account:

and then clicking on the ‘Publish and Create Version‘ or ‘Create Version‘ link:

GTM can maintain: one live version, one latest version and several old versions of a same container, at the same time.

The live container version is the one, which is currently being deployed on your website.

The latest container version, is your last saved container draft.

Whenever you want to save the current state of your container draft, you create its new version.

You can see the list of versions of your container by clicking on the ‘Versions’ tab in the top navigation:

A container draft is that snapshot of your Google Tag Manager container which you are currently using, to create and test container’s configurations (tags, triggers and variables), before you publish them on a live website:

gtm structure

When you publish a container draft, you create both latest and live container version at the same time:

The advantage of creating and managing container versions is that, you can always revert back to previous working version, in case something goes wrong.

Get the E-Book (62 Pages)

Introduction to Workspaces

A workspace is a container draft.

When you create a new workspace in GTM, you are infact creating a new container draft.

So creating 2 new workspaces means, creating 2 new container drafts.

Each container draft remains separate from other drafts.

Before the advent of workspaces, a GTM container had only one container draft.

After the advent of workspaces, a GTM container can have up to three containers drafts and all of these container drafts can exist at the same time.

However you can publish only one container draft at a time.

Types of workspaces

There are two types of workspaces:

#1 Default workspace

#2 Custom workspace

Every GTM container has got one default workspace:

In addition to one default workspace, you can create up to 2 custom workspaces.

So in total, you can use up to 3 different workspaces at the same time.

If you are using GTM 360 (premium version of GTM), then you can create and use unlimited number of workspaces at the same time.

When to create and use a new workspace?

#1 Create a new workspace, if you want to work on a new tagging project and you don’t want to take the risk, of you or someone else, accidentally publishing your work.

For example, if you are working on installing enhanced ecommerce tracking on your website via GTM, you may want to treat this project as a separate tagging project.

You can do that by creating a new workspace and adding all of the tags, triggers and variables related to enhanced ecommerce, in that workspace:

You can then work and test your enhanced ecommerce’s tags, triggers and variables in your workspace, for as long as you like, without worrying about someone accidentally publishing your half baked work on a live website.

When you are sure, that your enhanced ecommerce tracking is working, the way it should, you can then create a new container version from your workspace and then publish it on the live website.

Creating new workspaces for different tagging projects is the best use of workspaces.

#2 Create a new workspace, if more than one person has to work on the same GTM container and he/she wants the ability to independently create and test GTM container configurations (tags, triggers and variables).

When not to create a new workspace?

If you are the only person creating and testing container configurations, then you don’t really need to create any new workspace.

You can and you should continue to work in your default workspace unless:

  1. You want to work on a new tagging project, which you want to keep it separate from the latest container draft
  2. You don’t want, you or someone else accidentally publishing your incomplete work on the live website.  

When you unnecessarily create and use multiple workspaces, you can make your GTM work more complex than it needs to be.

If there are any conflicts between existing changes made to your workspace and new changes merged to your workspace, then GTM will ask you to resolve conflicts before proceeding.

Such conflicts, are not always, very easy to fix.

How to use workspaces in a multi user environment?

Ideally only one user should be setting up your GTM container configurations.

I find the whole idea of several people, working on a same container tag, quite terrifying.

Remember the phrase ‘too many cooks spoil the broth’.

If multiple users, have to work on the same GTM container, then it is important, that only one user has the right to publish the container and make all of the changes live on the website.

All other users can independently create, edit and test container configurations via workspaces, but should not be allowed to publish them on a live website.

If several people are publishing tags on a live website at or around same time, then you may have a hard time understanding who broke your website’s functionality/tracking and when.

Also any user can edit someone else workspace at any time.

The Default Workspace

Let us suppose the latest and live version of your GTM container is 1

version1

The workspace associated with the latest container version, is called the ‘Default Workspace’.

Here is how the default workspace overview section looks like:

Now if you click on the ‘MANAGE WORKSPACES’ link, you can see the list of all the workspaces created in your container.

Let us suppose that at present there is only one workspace, called the ‘default workspace’:

default workspace

So unless you create a new workspace and navigate to it, every time whenever you use GTM, you are working in the ‘Default workspace’.

The Workspace overview section of this default workspace will show the latest workspace changes you made.

For example:

workspace changes

So if later you return to your workspace, say after 2 days, then through ‘Workspace Changes’ section, you will remember the last changes you made to your workspace.

Note: The ‘workspace changes’ section show only the ‘unpublished’ changes made to your workspace.

Custom Workspace #1

Let us suppose a user name ‘John’ wants to create and test his tags.

To do that, he logs into the existing GTM account and then navigate to ‘workspace’ section of the container:

workspace

He is now in the default workspace.

But for some security reason, he is not allowed to work in the default workspace.

So he has to create and work in his own workspace.

In order to create a new workspace from within default workspace, he clicks on the ‘Manage Workspaces’ link as shown below:

manage workspaces

Now he clicks on the plus ‘+’ button in the top right corner:

plus button

Then John gives a name to his workspace: ‘John Workspace’, entered a small description of his workspace and then clicked on the ‘Save’ button:

john workspace

As soon as John clicked on the blue ‘Save’ button, a new workspace (aka container draft) is created, which is a copy of the latest Container Version.

John now see his workspace overview section.

He knows that he is editing his workspace and not default workspace because he can see in the container overview section, the following message ‘Now Editing John Workspace’:

now editing

John clicks on the ‘Manage Workspaces’ link again, to see the list of all the workspaces available.

Now there are two workspaces listed in the ‘workspaces’ list.

One is the ‘Default workspace’ and one is ‘John Workspace’:

john workspace2

At this point, if John wants to change the name of his workspace or change the description of his workspace, he can do that by clicking on the ‘i’ button as shown below:

i button

hidden menu

If John wants to delete his workspace, he can do that, by opening the hidden menu and selecting ‘delete’:

delete button

Note: If you have run out of available workspaces in your container, then only way to create a new workspace, is to delete, one existing workspace.

Custom Workspace #2

Let us suppose another user name ‘Sara’ wants to create and test her tags.

To do that, she logs into the existing GTM account and then navigate to ‘workspace’ section of the container.

She is now in the default workspace.

But for some security reason, she is not allowed to work in the default workspace.

She is also not allowed to work in the ‘John Workspace’.

So she has to create and work in her own workspace.

So ‘Sara’ created a new workspace from within default workspace and named it: ‘Sara WorkSpace’.

Now we have got three workspaces in the GTM container:

  1. Default Workspace
  2. John Workspace
  3. Sara Workspace3 workspaces

Note: In GTM, you can create only 3 workspaces at a time (unless you are using GTM 360).

 

Now John creates a new tag in his workspace for deploying ‘Google Adwords Conversion Tracking Code’ on the website say ‘Website A’.

As soon as John finished creating his new tag, the container overview section of his workspace, show the workspace changes, he just made:

workspace changes2

If John later return to his workspace, say after 2 days, then through ‘workspace changes’ section, he will remember the last changes he made to his workspace.

At this point, Sara has no idea, what John is doing or has done in his workspace, unless she manually navigate to his workspace.

She can manually navigate to his workspace by clicking on the ‘Manage Workspaces’ link, in her workspace overview section and then clicked on ‘John Workspace’:

sara workspace

switch workspace

The ‘Adwords conversion tracking’ tag created by John, won’t appear in the ‘Tags’ section of Sara’s workspace.

Now Sara decided to create a new tag in her workspace for deploying ‘Facebook Tracking on the website A.

Sara knows that she is editing her workspace and not John’s because she can see in the container overview section, the following message ‘Now Editing Sara Workspace’:

editing sara workspace

The other message which confirms Sara, that she is working in her workspace and not John’s, is the ‘current workspace’ section:

current workspace

As soon as Sara finished creating her new tag, the container overview section of her workspace, show the workspace changes, she has just made:

facebook conversion tracking

At this point, John has no idea, what Sara is doing or has done in her workspace, unless he manually navigate to her workspace.

The ‘Facebook conversion tracking’ tag created by Sara, won’t appear in the ‘Tags’ section of John’s workspace.

At this point, the third person say ‘Rocky’ who is working in the default workspace has no idea, what John and Sara are doing in their workspaces, unless Rocky manually navigate to theirs workspaces.

The ‘Adwords conversion tracking’ tag created by John and ‘Facebook conversion tracking’ tag created by Sara, won’t appear in the ‘Tags’ section of Rocky’s workspace.

Sara now decided to create a new container version from her workspace.

So after previewing and debugging her tag, she created a new container version.

Once she created the new version, the latest container version is the version created by Sara.

GTM automatically named this new version as: ‘Version 2 – Sara Workspace’:

versions 2 summary

At this point, if Sara clicks on the ‘Manage Workspaces’ link, she will see only two workspaces:

1 workspace left

Sara Workspace now no longer exist.

It is now available in the form of latest container version and Sara can no longer work in her designated workspace.

At this point, John gets a notification in his container overview section, that his workspace is out of date and he needs to update it:

workspace out of date

At this point, Rocky (who works in the default workspace) also gets a notification in his container overview section that his workspace is out of date and he needs to update it:

default workspace2

Whenever a workspace creates a new container version, all other workspaces automatically become out of date, as they are not using the latest container version.

You would need to update all outdated workspaces, before you can use them, to create a new container version or publish them.

If you try to create a new container version from an outdated workspace or if you try to publish an outdated workspace, GTM will first automatically update your workspace before creating a new container version or before publishing the workspace.

So if John try to create a new version from his outdated workspace, he will see following message:

update now

Now John decided to update his workspace, so he clicked on the ‘update now’ button.

John now see the list of unmerged container versions:

unmerged versions

When John update his workspace, the update operation merge the latest changes made by Sara into his workspace.

Any existing changes made in John’s workspace are not affected.

What that means, after workspace update, when John navigates to his ‘tags’ section of the workspace, he now see the ‘Facebook conversion tracking’ tag created by Sara:

facebook conversion tracking2

At this point, for Rocky, who works in the default workspace, the ‘Facebook Conversion Tracking’ tag created by Sara and the ‘Adwords Conversion Tracking’ tag created by John, still do not exist.

This is because, Rocky has not updated his workspace yet.

Now John decided to create a new container version from his workspace.

So after previewing and debugging his tag, he creates a new container version by, clicking on the ‘Create Version’ button.

Once he create the new version, the latest container version now, is the version created by John and not by Sara.

GTM automatically named this new version as: ‘Version 3 – John Workspace’:

john workspace3

version 3

At this point, if John clicks on the ‘Manage Workspaces’ link, he will see only one workspace .i.e. the default workspace:

2 workspaces left

John Workspace now no longer exist.

It is now available in the form of latest container version.

John can no longer work in his designated workspace.

At this point, Rocky, who works in the default workspace is still not aware of the tags created by Sara and John.

But he knows that the latest container version has changed, as his workspace has become outdated:

update workspace

Now Rocky decides to create a new tag before updating his workspace.

So he creates a new tag which deploys ‘AdRoll’ tracking on the website ‘A’.

Before Rocky can create a new container version from his workspace, he has to update his workspace.

So he clicks on the ‘update’ button.

Rocky now see the list of two unmerged container versions:

two unmerged versions

When Rocky update his workspace, the update operation merge the latest changes made by Sara and John into his workspace.

Any existing changes made in Rocky’s workspace are not affected.

What that means, after workspace update, when Rocky navigates to his ‘tags’ section of the workspace, he see the ‘Facebook conversion tracking’ tag created by Sara, as well as the ‘Adwords Conversion tracking’ tag created by John:

two tags

At this point it is worth mentioning that, Rocky is the Admin.

He is in charge of publishing tags on the website and not Sara and John.

Since the  ‘Facebook conversion tracking’ tag and ‘Adwords Conversion tracking’ tags are not created by Rocky, he needs to make sure that the two tags do not break the website functionality and design, and work the way, they are supposed to.

So after previewing and debugging the tags (including his own ‘Adroll Tracking’ tag), Rocky created a new container version from his workspace.

Once he created the new version, the latest container version now, is the version created by Rocky and not by John or Sara:

version 4

It is also worth noting that, though the latest version is now Version 4, the version that is live/published is still version 1.

So all the changes made by Sara, John and Rocky are not live on the website ‘A’ yet.

In order to push these changes live, to website ‘A’, Rocky needs to publish his container version.

So Rocky clicked on the ‘Publish’ button from the ‘Actions’ drop down menu next to the container version 4:

publish version

Now container version 4 is both the latest & live version and all the changes made by Sara, John and Rocky, are now live on the website ‘A’ :

live and latest version

At this point if Sara wants to create/edit a tag, she has to first create a new workspace from within the default workspace.

Similarly,  at this point if John wants to create/edit a tag, he has to first create a new workspace from within the default workspace.

That’s how workspaces can be used in Google Tag Manager.

Learn about the Google Analytics Usage Trends Tool

The Google Analytics usage trend is a new tool which is used to visualise trends in your Google Analytics data and to perform trend analysis.


Take your knowledge of Web Analytics to the next level. Checkout my web analytics training course.

Take your Analytics knowledge to the next level. Checkout my Best Selling Books on Amazon

Maths and Stats for Web Analytics and Conversion Optimization
This expert guide will teach you how to leverage the knowledge of maths and statistics in order to accurately interpret data and take actions, which can quickly improve the bottom-line of your online business.

Master the Essentials of Email Marketing Analytics
This book focuses solely on the ‘analytics’ that power your email marketing optimization program and will help you dramatically reduce your cost per acquisition and increase marketing ROI by tracking the performance of the various KPIs and metrics used for email marketing.

Attribution Modelling in Google Analytics and Beyond
Attribution modelling is the process of determining the most effective marketing channels for investment. This book has been written to help you implement attribution modelling. It will teach you how to leverage the knowledge of attribution modelling in order to allocate marketing budget and understand buying behaviour.

Himanshu Sharma

Certified web analyst and founder of OptimizeSmart.com

My name is Himanshu Sharma and I help businesses find and fix their Google Analytics and conversion issues. If you have any questions or comments please contact me.

  • Over eleven years' experience in SEO, PPC and web analytics
  • Google Analytics certified
  • Google AdWords certified
  • Nominated for Digital Analytics Association Award for Excellence
  • Bachelors degree in Internet Science
  • Founder of OptimizeSmart.com and EventEducation.com

I am also the author of three books:

error: Alert: Content is protected !!