Why you shouldn’t develop on a live Website without testing

Tips and Guides/ 13th Nov 2017/Will Cook-Martin

general guides

Editing code directly on a live site is very tempting. It’s only one line of code, what can go wrong… The simple answer is a lot!

Without comprehensive testing, it’s difficult to foresee the unintended consequences of a simple code change. For example if you use a CMS such as WordPress, you will more than likely use at least one plugin, or have some code in use on the site that you have not written. How can you be sure that the simple change you want to put in place will not affect other elements? This is difficult without introducing some sort of testing phase.

Whilst introducing a testing phase may introduce extra time into development work, it will almost certainly save you time and importantly money in the long run. Benjamin Franklin’s well known quote rings true of all development work, no matter how small the edit – By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail. Afterall most of us use paint pot testers before we start a relatively simple paint job. It makes sense then, that we should be applying the same principles to our websites and applications. Especially as they are likely to be a significant revenue producer for our businesses.

Once you have the git lightbulb moment, coding will never be the same again

At Clook, we revamped our development processes 12 months ago. We now make more use of git, and both development and staging environments for thorough testing. This has helped to significantly reduce the number of errors that are pushed to our live site. Whilst the idea of git may seem a little mind boggling at this stage to you, I would encourage you to persevere. Once you have the git lightbulb moment, coding will never be the same again. Rolling out new code, or rolling back to an existing version of your code can be done at the click of a button, without the need to manually upload or delete files. For an interactive introduction to git have a look here – https://learngitbranching.js.org/

If you’re interested, here’s the way we do things:

We use a locally hosted Git repo, using Gitlab’s excellent software and DeployBot is used to simplify and speed up the code deployment to our server environments.

1. Code is developed locally on a developers machine
2. Code is then pushed to our development branch for testing and further development work.
3. Code is then pushed to our staging environment, which exactly mirrors our live environment, for testing.
4. Once we have tested every element we can, code is then pushed to our live site.

Will's our technical sales guy from the hills of Rossendale. A follower of Stoke City, father to Eddie, husband to Catherine and a fan of gadgets - oh and he's recently mastered the art of really slow DIY.
We have a very strong team here at Clook and we build on everyone's strengths and weaknesses, you have to be able to make a good brew too!

Chris James

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