[SUCS Devel] Website development environment

Graham Cole chckens at sucs.org
Sun Jul 29 12:59:03 BST 2007

To my fellow "developers",

Not sure if I've mentioned this plan much in the past, but I think it  
(or similar) could do with being implemented soon, to stop people  
treading on each others toes whilst working on the SUCS website, and  
hopefully make it a bit easier for people to play along at home.

Presently it's a bit of a free-for-all. We have the "beta" site which  
certain people can work in, and changes in beta are migrated to the  
live site in a fairly haphazard manner. The major disadvantages are  
that we have to trust people quite a lot in order to let them work on  
the site, the frequent confusions over what's ready to move to the  
live site and what's not, and all the usual arguments for everyone  
having their own working copy ;-)

I've been doing some work on making it easier to play with website  
components from within a user's public_html dir. Not perfect yet due  
to some off assumptions throughout the codebase, but usable and  
likely to be fixed if more people are interested in having a personal  
working copy of the site.

So here's how I think the development process ought to be occurring:

Mr. Chicken has an SVN working copy of the website in his homedir. He  
can make changes to his heart's content, and see the result in his  
own public_html.

Mr. Chicken has developed an awesome widget for the website! He svn  
commits it and the changes are automatically propagated to the "beta"  
site, which always reflects the state of svn trunk.

Freddy Fox has also been making changes to a component. He's accident  
prone, so we don't want him to have svn commit access right now. Mr.  
Chicken asks him to run svn diff so his work can be incorporated and  

There's a bunch of interesting new stuff on the beta website.  
Everyone involved is happy, so it's time to svn update the live website.

Does this sound like a bad/good idea? Bit clumsy for little changes,  
granted. I'd hope that with a kind of "release cycle" lots of random  
little changes to the live site wouldn't need to happen.

Anyone see any major hurdles? How to deal with database changes is  
the biggest problem I can think of... :-/

- Graham

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