On websites with tight budgets, and no development staff, it’s fairly common to make code updates directly on the live code. The thought of this gives many coders the chills, but I’ve been doing this for 20 years. When a client can’t afford a development environment, doesn’t have a code repository, and there’s no time / budget for a lengthly QA process, this is what you do.
There are a few relatively easy ways to handle live changes:
- Be careful and test immediately. For small changes, this works well. If something doesn’t work, you can quickly revert with little to no downtime. If it does, then you are finished and the code is live.
- Save old code / edits – make sure you have a quick “restore” plan in case something really gets messed up.
- Work with parallel code – for larger changes, make a copy of the affected code, and use that for testing until you are confident it’s working. Then swap it in place.
Obviously, these tips only work for relatively minor updates to the code – changes that require structural database or code changes will most likely require some kind of development environment to be set up. However, many day-to-day changes can be accomplished without the overhead of a full blown development cycle.
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