A Complete Guide To Preview Environments

Preview Environments

Software development comprises the testing and staging of the environment to reflect production. While some engineers successfully improvise the single staging environment, this system has challenges as they cannot perform tests in isolation.

Given the above challenges, there is a need for engineering teams to come up with a staging or testing environment and tear them down after completing their tests. These environments, also called preview or ephemeral, create a clone of your production environment upon request, enabling you to test the changes confidently without affecting production.

Read on for more details about preview environments.

What are preview environments?

Preview environments are on-demand environments created for testing a git branch before merging. These environments are temporary, surviving for as long as they are needed to fix a bug or test a specific feature. As such, these environments will share a lifespan with the event that triggered their creation; that is, they will be created upon opening a PR and closed upon its destruction.

Benefits Of Preview Or Ephemeral Environments

Using preview environments in your software development process is beneficial for the following reasons:

Enhances Faster Reviews And Feedback

Through a preview environment, team members can review and give feedback on the new features much faster, accelerating the development cycles.

Easier Code Reviewing Process

With a preview environment, code review is much easier in a standardized and holistic way, improving the odds of catching bugs early. These environments also significantly reduce your development team’s workload, enabling them to handle multiple monthly pull requests.

Catch Bugs Beforehand

Preview environments are quality gates, enabling your DevOps team to perform isolated testing. This saves your team the headache and time, enhancing the final product’s quality. Through this environment, it will also be easier to identify the bugs, allocate accountability and modify accordingly.

How To Tell If You Need Ephemeral Environments

You will tell it is time to create ephemeral environments if you notice the following:

  • Merging new PRs/MRs takes a long time
  • Releases get caught by buggy commits
  • Your team takes longer to pull a code branch
  • Your team delays due to automated test queues
  • You will need up to or have over four developers using the shared test environment
  • Your DevOps team experiences Code Freezes in its development process or cycle
  • You want to improve collaboration between your team of testers, developers, and other key stakeholders
  • You must contact an engineer on the DevOps team to access an environment
  • You want to demonstrate a new feature with a POC

Configuring A Preview Environment And Its Common Challenges

Some applications and teams will call for creating a preview tool but avoiding this route and outsourcing is advisable given the cost implications. Upon successfully creating ephemeral environments, you will experience challenges getting relevant data to seed your database, negotiating with managed services, and dealing with serverless platforms and dynamic URLs.

Invest In Ephemeral Environments For Your Business

Ephemeral environments are important in the modern-day software development processes as they streamline your workflows, improve code quality and reduce development times. By adopting these environments, you can empower your team to be more efficient and deliver quality products meeting your customer needs.

About Kushal Enugula

I’m a Digital marketing enthusiast with more than 6 years of experience in SEO. I’ve worked with various industries and helped them in achieving top ranking for their focused keywords. The proven results are through quality back-linking and on page factors.

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