Having a staging environment for your web application is important because it serves as an effective and safe space where you can vet your app without affecting your production environment.
A staging environment allows you to find any problems hiding inside changes associated with new features and fixes. Catching hidden problems like these before they are introduced into your live app helps you provide an optimal experience for your users and builds trust with your audience.
Here are a couple of things to remember when setting up or managing a staging environment:
Bugs in Staging
If you’re setting up a new staging environment, you’re probably going to find some things that are broken, that either seem specific to your new environment or that you’ve long forgotten about.
It’s easy to want to write off bugs like this and say things like, “it’s not happening in production, so it’s not important.” As a rule of thumb, you should treat breakage in staging like any other bug and prioritize fixing it. Neglecting to do so can result in bugs being introduced into your live app.
Your staging environment should be a near-exact replica of your production environment. So, breaks in staging should represent potential breakage in production and should be dealt with accordingly.
When it comes to deployment, ensure that you have a reliable deployment process to begin with. If you don’t have a deployment process that yields consistent results, it’s more difficult to release software reliably.
Make sure that your staging deployment process is as much like your production deployment process as possible. If there are any optimization steps that you make in production, do the same in staging to debug any potential side effects.