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1.5 Developer Sandboxes

A "sandbox" is a fully functioning environment in which a system may be built, tested, and/or run. You want to keep your various sandboxes separated for safety reasons—developers should be able to work within their own sandbox without fear of harming other efforts, your quality assurance/test group should be able to run their system integration tests safely, and your end users should be able to run their systems without having to worry about developers corrupting their source data and/or system functionality. Figure 1.5 depicts a logical organization for your sandboxes—we say that it is logical because a large/complex environment may have seven or eight physical sandboxes, whereas a small/simple environment may only have two or three physical sandboxes.

Figure 1.5

Figure 1.5 Logical sandboxes to provide developers with safety.

To successfully refactor your database schema, developers need to have their own physical sandboxes to work in, a copy of the source code to evolve, and a copy of the database to work with and evolve. By having their own environment, they can safely make changes, test them, and either adopt or back out of them. When they are satisfied that a database refactoring is viable, they promote it into their shared project environment, test it, and put it under change management control so that the rest of the team gets it. Eventually, the team promotes their work, including all database refactorings, into any demo and/or preproduction testing environments. This promotion often occurs once a development cycle, but could occur more or less often depending on your environment. (The more often you promote your system, the greater the chance of receiving valuable feedback.) Finally, after your system passes acceptance and system testing, it will be deployed into production. Chapter 4, "Deploying into Production," covers this promotion/deployment process in greater detail.

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