Environments serve as a platform to perform preliminary testing in a restricted environment, and to publish changes in one go, rather than performing gradual changes in the application. This is useful when changes have to be made in a complex application, and you don't want users to access the application until all the changes have been made—which could otherwise result in users accessing unfinished application changes. Sometimes reverting application changes can be a tedious task, which can be avoided using preliminary testing in Environments.
Let's say you have an application with multiple forms and reports and you want to add a new module containing a few additional forms and reports. Additionally, you want to add a new workflow to send email notifications to users on form submission. To prevent users from accessing the new module until all the changes have been implemented, you can first make the changes in the development environment and publish them to the Stage environment. Here, the new changes can be tested to see if they're working, and if the notifications are being triggered as expected. Once verified, the changes can be published to the production environment at once for your users.
Zoho Creator offers three environments:
Whenever an application is edited, it is, by default, done in the Development environment. However, the application can be accessed (live mode) in all three environments—development, stage, and production. To put it simply, there is one edit mode (development) and three live modes (development, stage, and production). Live mode also means that data can be added to the application. Data in each of those three live modes are stored separately.
Out of the three live modes, production is where the end users or consumers access the app. This means testing needs to happen in the development and staging environments, before the changes are published to production. Changes are first published to the stage environment, where the testing happens, and then to the production environment.
So, applications are created in the development environment, tested in the stage environment, and made accessible to end users in production mode.
- Create or make changes to an app in the development environment.
- Then access the app in the development environment to see how it functions. This is more or less similar to unit testing or the immediate surface level testing by developers.
- Publish the changes to the stage environment and perform extensive user testing in the stage environment.
- Finally, publish the changes to production environment for customers.