The topic the object status explains the purpose of the work instance and the active instance of an object. When the authoring work on an object is done and activated (usually by means of the publish function) you see exactly the same content in the Workbench as the users who browse the content in their web browser. But the moment you restart changing things, you see the changed content in the work instance of the objects. The Workbench always shows the work instance over the active instance. So, how can authors have a clear view on active content?
You cannot use the preview function. because this is to review your work in the web browser before activating it. You could use the object's URL but then the active content is shown in the web browser in stead of in the Workbench.
The solution is to use the 'View mode' function. It is a Workbench feature to visualize the object instance of your choice. The following view modes are supported.
The 'Latest' view mode.
If you open the Workbench all objects are shown in the latest view mode. This means that the work instance is shown if it is available and if not, the Workbench reverts to the active instance. In this mode the objects are editable and you can perform all your authoring work (unless the security determines otherwise).
The 'Active' view mode.
In this view mode the active instance of an object is shown while the work instance (if available) is bypassed. In this mode the objects are always presented as read only. It is not meant to do any authoring work. In stead, it is a mean to browse content in the Workbench as users would do in their web browser.
The 'inactive version' view mode.
This view mode is used to show older versions of the content objects in the Workbench. It is only available if you have acquired HelpServer's versioning feature.