14.4.0 Channel issues in Experience Manager

Hi there.

I have upgraded our project to version 14.4.0 and I’m seeing some issues when viewing our site’s channel in the Experience Manager. I upgraded the project from version 13.4.5, following the upgrade steps through each minor 14 version. This commit can be seen here: https://github.com/scottishgovernment/gov-scot/commit/3b4c8697663507d980af1894ece4a8c213f5b96e

We have not noticed or had any reports of the channel in the Experience Manager having issues in prior versions.

When previewing our channel in the Experience Manager, certain content does not appear to work correctly. This seems to most often manifest as the content bean returning as null, causing us issues when trying to render content on the page.
(Edit - probably worth adding that we don’t see this on the actual site - just the channel in the Experience Manager.)

A closer analysis seems to indicate that the order of the workflow variants under the handle appears to be the cause - if the preview/blue variant is not the first node under the handle, then the content bean appears to be null, and no content can be pulled through. This appears consistent too - I can consistently fix/break this in the console by altering the variant order under the handle.

I first noticed this by using the Document menu in the Content Application to copy our homepage. This made the homepage render consistently with the correct data. I then compared the two homepages in the console - the newly copied variants were in a different order compared to our old homepage:
Original: Live/Green, Preview/Blue, Draft/Brown
Copied: Preview/Blue, Draft/Brown, Live/Green

Additionally, this sometimes appears to fix itself if the content in question is opened in the Content Application first, and then the channel opened in the Experience Manager. This is not always true however (e.g. this will fix our homepage, but not one of our landing pages).

I have suspicions that this is somehow related to permissions - this behaviour is seen on our team’s user accounts, but never as the default admin user.
(Edit - I believe this is probably backed up by us not seeing this on the site, just in the channel preview.)

Does anyone have any idea what might be our issue here? Has the behaviour of handles and variants changed with version 14(.4.0)? Is the variant ordering a red herring for an underlying permissions problem?

Thank you for any insight.

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