Following are some of the things that I learned while doing the content deployment for one of my customers:
1. Make sure that when you run content deployment (via Operations tab in Central Admin) the target site is created from a blank site template else the content deployment will fail.
2. You can run FULL CONTENT DEPLOYMENT on the Target site n number of times if your source changes, but make sure:
a. To deactivate the features on the Target (a.k.a Publishing site), so that if your feature is creating some artifacts in the content db the GUIDS (for the artifacts) wont already exist and the content deployment wont fail.
b. Also make sure if your Feature Activation creates artifacts in the FEATUREACTIVATED event also have a FEATUREDEACTIVATING event handler to clean those artifacts.
3. You can modify the security (i.e. add users, change permissions, add groups, etc) on the TARGET site (on which you are doing content deployment) and that will not break any future content deployments. Basically you are not breaking the readonly nature of the TARGET site by modifying the security. Same is true for DEACTIVATING the existing features on the TARGET SITE.
4. IF any of your feature have some dependency on SPCONTEXT remember that Content deployment will fail on that FEATURE/SOLUTION as SPCONTEXT is null while you are doing CONTENT DEPLOYMENT.
5. You can leverage PRIME API if you want to do more granular content deployment. Check out Steffan Gobner’s blog: http://blogs.technet.com/stefan_gossner/archive/2007/08/30/deep-dive-into-the-sharepoint-content-deployment-and-migration-api-part-1.aspx THIS IS THE BEST RESOURCE WITH GOOD EXAMPLES on USING PRIME API.
6. If you want to use a nice GUI based tool for deployments (event ITEM LEVEL) use CHRIS O’Brien’s SPDEPLOYMENT WIZARD: http://www.codeplex.com/SPDeploymentWizard
7. CONTENT DEPLOYMENT thru Sharepoint Central Admin GUI interface is really easy and you should play around (check the OPERATIONS TABàCONTENT DEPLOYMENT). IT is damn easy just few clicks and it works.
8. Generally Authoring environment will have Windows based security/provider used and in Publishing you might leverage using FBA, so don’t worry you can just do the content deployment and then set the required FBA users/groups on your TARGET site you are not breaking anything on Content deployment.
9. Dont try to run the content deployment on site-collections (i.e. source and target) that share the same content database you will get GUID conflicts.