A dev site is a copy of a website that can be worked on safely without affecting your public-facing site. With the Nexcess Cloud, this means creating a complete, exact copy of your production site with all personally identifiable information optionally scrubbed and kept confidential.
Dev sites are also sometimes known as development or staging environments.
Making changes to a website can result in the unexpected. Things can break, performance can take a hit, or a page’s look and feel can change. Dev sites mean you’re able to see how changes will affect your production site before pushing them live. This may mean running performance benchmarks, updating software versions, or creating a developer “sandbox”.
Dev sites are especially important for websites where downtime can result in a loss in revenue.
The development process for changes to a website often passes through the stages of:
The development environment (or dev site) is where changes are made and developers work. This environment should be separate from a production environment to protect live content being affected by adverse changes.
A staging environment is a private copy of your production site. It's often used to test minor updates and sometimes act as a bridge between a dev site and a production site. A staging environment is often used to review deployed changes. In some cases, development and staging environments are the same site but from different perspectives.
A production environment is your live website, available to the public.
While the use of dev and staging environments is best practice, the process for moving changes to a production environment varies. Nexcess dev sites are designed to give developers the framework they need to implement their own process; enabling them to be more productive without having to change their current routine.
Database scrubbing is a process in which all personally identifiable information (PII) is replaced with placeholder information. This includes email addresses, names, addresses, phone numbers, credit card details, and more.
This is done to ensure the security of those who make use of your production website, while still allowing you to test changes in an equivalent environment. Primarily, database scrubbing helps when:
Nexcess Cloud Dev Sites work in the same way as the production site they are created from. They use the same versions of PHP, MySQL, etc. Note that Nexcess Cloud Auto Scaling is not enabled for dev sites. All other features are available.
We roll out new encryption keys during the Nexcess Cloud Dev Site creation process. We do not recrypt, but rather change the key so any encrypted information is not seen by developers. This means if a payment provider stores encrypted credentials in a scrubbed database, dev site credentials will need to be reconfigured to test payments.
Creating a dev site is done through the Nexcess Client Portal.
Once you’ve logged in, go to Services -> Cloud Accounts. Then click the drop-down menu to the right of your site and select Add Development Account.
During the creation process you will be asked to input a dev site domain, select either an S, M, or L environment, and then create the account.