Making changes to production apps just got a whole lot easier. Now App Admins and Super Admins can make changes to multiple TrackVia applications and expand functionality without interrupting operations. TrackVia is excited to introduce our newest feature: Promotable Sandboxes. What’s more, you can take control of the changes made in Sandbox and promote those changes to Production in a few easy steps.
Promotable Sandboxes is the natural evolution of our Sandbox feature, which— in its initial release— gave an Admin the ability to model changes and investigate configuration issues in a safe environment that wouldn’t interfere with the Production TrackVia account.
The Promotable Sandbox feature offers peace-of-mind if a colleague needs to develop a prototype for a new use-case or you’re quickly implementing changes requested by stakeholders. Either way, it adds confidence when using the platform to make quick, valuable, and tactical changes to your applications, especially when managing development and deploying changes on multiple initiatives can be daunting.
We strive to provide customers with robust Application Lifecycle Management (ALM) tools, and Promotable Sandboxes is our latest feature (and it certainly won’t be our last).
The Application Lifecycle Management circle of life
What is Application Lifecycle Management (ALM)?
Application Lifecycle Management refers to the set of principles that are used for managing the delivery of new features and applications to an organization. ALM tools are designed to help give structure to your development processes– from requirement gathering, to design, testing, and deployment– all in a way that allows you to deliver value quickly to your organization while minimizing risk. Promotable Sandboxes fit the ALM profile perfectly.
Many of you have your own strategies for reliably governing changes needed in your apps and communicating those changes to your business. Some might capture feedback from end users in a Support Portal App. Others post documentation and release notes for changes made to the apps to a Dashboard that is accessible to limited users. Or, this may be the first time you’ve ever stopped to think about finding a better way to deliver changes to your business.
Let’s explain what exactly ALM is and how Promotable Sandboxes may impact the way that your organization manages application development in TrackVia. For those who are just interested in getting into the details about how Promotable Sandboxes work, head over to the knowledge base.
Here’s a simple example of how you can use Promotable Sandboxes:
This scenario uses a TrackVia account with two applications: a Quality Inspections App and an Accounts Payable App
- You need to make app changes.
- You want to make updates to the Accounts Payable App and build out two new use cases.
- You create a Promotable Sandbox.
- In your Promotable Sandbox, you make the needed updates to your Accounts Payable App and your team of citizen developers build out a new Project Tracking App and an HR app.
- You promote the changes from the Sandbox to Production.
- After promoting the changes, your production account reflects all of the changes made in the sandbox, and your new apps are deployed.
- Your Promotable Sandbox has been archived in case you need to access it for any reason, and you’re now able to create a new Promotable Sandbox for the next round of changes your business needs.
What’s exciting is that you can use Promotable Sandboxes for everything from small updates to existing applications to massive enterprise app deployments. Regardless, as you look to embrace a more robust ALM strategy within your organization, there are four key aspects of the process to consider:
1. Developing exclusively within a Sandbox
When utilizing a Promotable Sandbox, the first thing you’ll notice is that you are no longer able to make on-the-fly changes in Production until the Promotable Sandbox has its changes promoted to production. If you have multiple Super Admin and App Admin in your account, this is a great opportunity to look at how you communicate internally to collaboratively decide on when a Promotable Sandbox should be created and agree on the scope of development that’s going to take place in that Sandbox before promoting it to production.
2. Testing in your Sandbox
Even if you don’t have multiple Admin in your account who are making changes to your applications, one of the benefits of Promotable Sandboxes is allowing your colleague admin to review changes you’ve made prior to those changes getting promoted to production. We recommend scheduling a testing window in which your App Admin are invited to enter the Promotable Sandbox and review the changes that have been made to make sure everything is working as expected.
3. Planning a promotion
For pushing small changes from a Promotable Sandbox to production, the communication between your team and your end users might be minimal. However, no matter how small or extensive the changes are that you’re promoting to production, your end users will not be able to access the system during the promotion of your changes, so you need to have a plan for communicating about this downtime. Many of our customers opt to promote changes to production at the end of the business day, or at the beginning of a weekend. Perhaps you’ll opt to trigger a notification to all of your users from a System Update dashboard that you’ve built in TrackVia to alert them of upcoming downtime. Regardless of the mechanism that you use to communicate changes, the importance of being transparent with your end users about what changes they’re going to see in their apps cannot be overstated, so it’s important to have a strategy for how to set expectations with the business around new features and updates.
4. Rollback precautions
Now that you’ve started to think about what approaches and cadences are going to work best for your team when developing, testing, and releasing features, you might also spend a moment thinking about what to do if things go wrong. Perhaps you promoted all of your changes to Production and realize after the fact that you missed a key feature or overlooked the impact of a new app script you added. Thankfully, if you need to roll back your account to the moment right before you promoted your changes, we’ll have a fresh Backup ready for you in the Backup & Restore area of your account. We recommend thoroughly vetting and testing changes prior to the promotion to ensure that you never need to revert to this fallback plan.
Hopefully, this has given you new ideas on how to evolve the way you deploy TrackVia within your business. If it feels like a lot of information, don’t worry! Your account manager and our support team are here if you have any questions.
We’re excited to see how you utilize the new Promotable Sandboxes feature and hearing about the new successes within your business. As always, we want to hear your experience. If you’d like to share your thoughts, we’d love to listen to your feedback!