Forcing Episerver visitor group check in a preview

Jacob Khan has written an article how to preview content in a View Mode. While this works fine, it ignores visitor groups.

By default, Episerver ignores visitor groups in a preview mode, but it allows an editor to force particular visitor group under Toggle view settings -> View as this visitor:

Visitor group selection

This works fine in the CMS administrative UI. There are use cases where a preview link should be sent to users who do not have access to the administrative interface.

Luckily, there is a solution. Khanh Pham from Episerver has sent me an example how to achieve it with MVC filter. Episerver switches visitor groups by URL parameter - visitorgroupsByID. So one solution would be to send the link with this parameter if you know for which visitor groups to show the content.

But it will not work if you want visitor groups to be detected as on the published page. Below is a modified Khanh's example which allows to achieve it.

public class ForceVisitorGroupCheckFilter : ActionFilterAttribute
    private readonly PreviewContext _previewContext;
    private readonly IVisitorGroupRoleRepository _visitorGroupRoleRepository;
    private readonly IVisitorGroupRepository _visitorGroupRepository;

    public ForceVisitorGroupCheckFilter(
        IVisitorGroupRepository visitorGroupRepository,
        IVisitorGroupRoleRepository visitorGroupRoleRepository,
        PreviewContext previewContext)
        _previewContext = previewContext
            ?? throw new ArgumentNullException(nameof(previewContext));
        _visitorGroupRoleRepository = visitorGroupRoleRepository
            ?? throw new ArgumentNullException(nameof(visitorGroupRoleRepository));
        _visitorGroupRepository = visitorGroupRepository
            ?? throw new ArgumentNullException(nameof(visitorGroupRepository));

    public override void OnActionExecuting(ActionExecutingContext filterContext)
        if (!_previewContext.IsPreview)

        var visitorGroupKeyByID = "visitorgroupsByID";
        var httpContext = filterContext.HttpContext;
        var contextMode = RequestSegmentContext.CurrentContextMode;

        if (httpContext.Request.QueryString[visitorGroupKeyByID] == null
            && contextMode.EditOrPreview())
            var visitorGroupIds =

                string.Join("|", visitorGroupIds.ToArray()));


    private List<string> GetVisitorGroupIdsByCurrentUser(HttpContextBase httpContext)
        var visitorGroupId = new List<string>();
        var user = httpContext.User;
        var visitorGroups = _visitorGroupRepository.List();
        foreach (var visitorGroup in visitorGroups)
            if (_visitorGroupRoleRepository
                    .TryGetRole(visitorGroup.Name, out var virtualRoleObject))
                if (virtualRoleObject.IsMatch(user, httpContext))

        return visitorGroupId;

    private void UpdateQueryString(HttpContextBase context, string queryString, string value)
        var isReadOnly = typeof(System.Collections.Specialized.NameValueCollection)
            .GetProperty("IsReadOnly", BindingFlags.Instance | BindingFlags.NonPublic);
        if (isReadOnly == null) return;
        isReadOnly.SetValue(context.Request.QueryString, false, null);
        context.Request.QueryString.Set(queryString, value);
        isReadOnly.SetValue(context.Request.QueryString, true, null);

In this example, PreviewContext is my custom class which detects if a user is in a preview. I am just adding a cookie when the preview is initialized and then check if it is set.

This MVC filter looks for all visitor groups and checks if those match the current user. If so, then adds visitor group to the current request's query string. The magic happens in the UpdateQueryString method. It disables read-only state for the query string property and replaces its value. Now, Episerver "sees" visitorgroupsByID parameter as it would be added to the URL.

When the filter is created, I am setting it in the MVC's global filters.

And thanks Khanh for help with this issue! :)