A company that helps software teams with test environment strategy
Software development is simple, at least in theory. However, when you start to break it down, the need for a robust test environment strategy becomes very clear.
The development team codes individual features or fixes and tests them in the local environment for bugs. Once they appear to be working as intended, the team will merge these topic branches into one master branch and test the entire application in a QA or staging environment. Much testing and iteration followed, and in the end, the more or less bug-free program was ready to go into production.
In practice, software development is messy, time-consuming, and can be very inefficient. One of the most persistent bottlenecks is the gap between the local test environment and the staging environment.
Many businesses employ multiple full-time software engineers to manage DevOps workflows between these environments at the same time. average base salary over $120,000 — and more for experienced engineers in high cost of living areas.
Some expect iterative improvements in low-code and no-code development to reduce the need for backend testing and staging environments. But that technology is not yet flexible or complex enough to handle most backend applications.
It may never be. In the near future, development teams need to upgrade their test environment strategy if they are serious about using their limited resources — time, talent, and money — effectively.
Uffizzi is making that much easier. They provide a preview environment solution that bridges the gap between local and production testing, helping teams find bugs and optimize performance before consolidating features into “main”. As we will see, Uffizzi’s preview environment offers many benefits to developers who are tired of the old way of doing things.
What is the preview environment?
First, a brief overview of what preview environments really are and where they fit in the software development lifecycle.
Preview environment is a “temporary and on-demand cloud environment for testing a specific git branch before it is merged into a master branch,” according to Uffizi’s preview environment guidelines.
Unlike “traditional” production or staging environments, which remain active indefinitely, preview environments are typically designed for a single purpose. They are created to test specific features or fixes, usually initiated to support a pull or merge request related to the git branch being checked out.
Once a test or merge is performed or a predefined timeout threshold is reached, they have no purpose and no longer exist. Their lifespan matches that of a branch. Developers often measure these by the hour instead of by the day, by the week, or by the month.
Why should software development teams use preview environments?
Uffizzi is ushering in a modern way to build software using a powerful test environment strategy. The preview environment has the potential to be transformative for software teams accustomed to the old way of doing things. Here’s why.
1. They save time.
Teams capable of automating short preview environments take advantage of the “parallelization” effect.
This means that developers can test features separately from each other. So even if one feature has a critical bug, it doesn’t affect the testability of all other features, which may continue during their testing.
This eliminates an important bottleneck. Once the individual features are ready, you can quickly merge and publish them. This is much faster and more efficient than the old-fashioned way of releasing multiple features at once, and ensures that every feature in a release is “bug-free”.
2. They reduce crowding in a shared test environment.
Relatedly, the preview environment also allows development teams to work around automated test queues.
They can grow to great lengths during busy consolidation cycles. They can debug the smaller features they are responsible for without waiting for someone else to do the same. This means they can get feedback that drives faster iterations and ultimately higher development rates.
3. They free up resources for the whole group.
Uffizzi’s preview environment is designed to free up time for everyone involved in the development and testing cycle. This is very important for the development team leader and open source maintainer responsible for protecting against Software Vulnerability and minimize the risk of consolidation.
“To reduce the risk of consolidation [team leads and open-source maintainers] will typically want to see the running version of the pull request before they approve it,” says the Uffizzi preview environment guide. “Without a preview environment, this means pulling the branch down and running it in their local developer environment. Of course, this can be time-consuming — multiply it by the number of developers on the team and this becomes their entire job.”
To make matters worse, the team leader and maintainer do this process in different ways.
When each maintainer uses a different environment setup, it is not possible to standardize branch runs, which is detrimental to process efficiency. And with tech companies from Amazon to four-person stores serious new about running lean In a time of impending technological downturn, every little effect counts.
4. They are purpose-built and easier to manage.
Uffizzi designed its preview environment solution on the principle that software testing itself should not be the end goal. Traditional “fixed” production and staging environments tend to be self-perpetuating, demanding attention better spent elsewhere.
Since Uffizzi’s preview environments are purpose-built to handle specific pull requests, they have little overhead. Multiplied by the number of pull requests likely to occur during the entire development cycle, their low-maintenance nature greatly reduces the ‘busy work’ workload of teams.
With more resources freed up for more productive, higher-value work, companies using the Uffizzi preview environment can rethink everything about their strategy, including having Candlestick outsource function which could be better kept indoors.
5. They help teams catch bugs before merging when they’re easier to fix.
Catching bugs is much easier and less time consuming in an environment designed for that sole purpose.
After a feature or fix merges into the main trunk, it is 10 times harder to find and fix. If something doesn’t work, finding what’s wrong becomes a challenge — and a major bottleneck in development.
And it goes without saying that the longer bugs go undetected, the more they cost to fix.
One Research by Grand Canyon University found that the cost of applying fixes increased tenfold between development and production — turning a theoretical $100 fix into a $1,000 fix.
Consider the number of bugs and fixes required in a typical development lifecycle. When you do, the preview environment’s value proposition will become apparent.
6. They complement an existing staging or production environment.
Uffizzi’s solution for the preview environment sounds like a radical break with the standard development cycle.
But it really isn’t. In recognition of its work, Uffizzi designed its preview environment solution to complement rather than completely replace the standard production or staging environment. Developers can use them as a bridge between local testing and staging, designed to make life easier on both sides of the equation.
7. They facilitate cooperation among stakeholders.
By reducing obstacles in the development process and helping developers focus on the pieces of code for which they are specifically responsible, Uffizzi’s purpose-built preview environment really fosters more collaboration. between developers, testers, designers and product managers, and other key stakeholders.
Wait less, do more, and communicate more effectively. This further raises the question “what can we do to improve this diversity”. In the end, you’ll have fewer “can you tell me when you’ve finished the work we’ve been waiting for you to do because our development process was congested”.
Increased collaboration doesn’t just make teams more efficient. It helps them achieve future success by freeing up developers and senior managers time to improve internal processes, train new developersand work on higher-level problem sets to make current and future products more valuable.
See what the preview environment can do for your development cycle
If you’re frustrated with the current state of the software development cycle, consider adding a preview solution to your test environment strategy, such as Uffizzi.
As a complementary solution to your existing process and existing CI/CD, you will find it makes you more efficient software team and opens up new possibilities in products, processes and people. Imagine getting close 50% more productivity without the need for new personnel.
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