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Review of environments

SharePoint 2007

Updated: January 10, 2008

Applies To: Office SharePoint Server 2007

 

Topic Last Modified: 2008-08-08

As sites for Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007 are designed and built, content, artifacts, and developed site elements pass through several processes managed by different people on the development and design teams. These processes occur in separate environments that use different tools to integrate and deploy content to sites.

The development and design teams use the following environments to design and build SharePoint sites:

Each environment is associated with a different step in the deployment of site elements by solutions deployment, the content deployment features, or the Content Migration APIs. These environments are sometimes combined. For example, development, software configuration management, and integration could all occur in a unified development environment, without using solutions deployment except when deploying outside of the environment. In some deployments with fewer customizations of developed elements, pilot and production environments can be combined by converting a pilot environment to a production environment after customizations have been tested, without requiring an additional deployment step. In most cases, however, ongoing testing requires using a separate pilot environment.

Any approach organized around frequent customization of developed elements tends to use more environments with greater specialization.

For more information about different scenarios and the differences between author-centric and developer-centric approaches, see Customization scenarios and Determine your approach.

Each of these environments is associated with one or more commonly used tools and processes. For more information about tools used in each environment, see Review of tools and processes.

Each of these environments is also associated with particular development team roles. For more information about development team roles, see About development team roles.

The development environment is where developers and designers create site elements for use in SharePoint sites.

In the author-centric approach, this environment consists of developer workstations that developers use to create and individually test developed site elements, such as Web Parts and workflows, using a development program such as Microsoft Visual Studio 2005 or Microsoft Visual Studio 2008.

In some author-centric approaches with more informal software configuration management and source control, the developer environment might also include the software configuration management servers and an integration farm, with no formal deployment of solutions between separate environments. In most deployments, however, both software configuration management and integration occur in distinct environments.

In the developer-centric approach, the development environment also includes authoring workstations that designers use to customize artifacts, such as master pages and layouts. Developers and designers who work in the development environment deploy site elements to the software configuration management environment for maintenance and source control.

NoteNote:
Developers and designers can deploy site elements as solutions directly to the integration environment for integration testing, although integration testing usually starts with site elements deployed from the software configuration management environment.
The development environment, along with the software configuration management and integration environments, usually operates in a common security zone.

In very simple deployments that have no need for developed site elements, a development environment is unnecessary. Sites can be built and customized entirely within the authoring environment.

The software configuration management environment is the environment where the software configuration management administrator maintains and manages site elements by using such tools as Visual Studio 2005 Team System.

In the author-centric approach, only developed site elements are maintained by the administrator in the software configuration management environment. The administrator deploys developed site elements as solutions to the integration environment for initial integration testing under controlled conditions. Designers and authors create artifacts and authored content independently of the software configuration management environment.

In the developer-centric approach, designers at workstations in the development environment deploy artifacts as solutions to the software configuration management environment. Software configuration management administrators then package artifacts and developed site elements in solutions that are deployed to the integration environment.

The software configuration management environment does not typically include content created in the authoring environment. Administrators in the authoring environment deploy content from that environment independently even in most developer-centric deployments. In some exceptional developer-centric deployments, the software configuration management administrator maintains, manages, and deploys all content, artifacts, and developed site elements from a centralized software configuration management environment that uses automated processes.

The integration environment is where testers ensure that site elements created in the development environment work together as expected. The software configuration management administrator deploys site elements as solutions to a farm in the integration environment. The integration environment also includes client workstations that testers use to access site elements during integration testing.

After integration testing, a farm administrator in the integration environment deploys site elements to the authoring environment to assist during content authoring and to the pilot environment for further testing. Testers use the pilot environment to verify that site elements function in network and security conditions that match the conditions of the production environment. After this round of testing, the farm administrator in the integration environment deploys the site elements as solutions from the integration environment to the production environment.

The only difference between author-centric and developer-centric approaches in the integration environment is whether artifacts are tested and not just developed site elements. In some exceptional developer-centric deployments, the software configuration management administrator deploys solutions to the authoring, pilot, and production environments, rather than a farm administrator.

The authoring environment is where authors and designers use authoring workstations to create and customize artifacts and authored content that are stored on an authoring farm. The authoring farm also includes site elements that are deployed by an integration farm administrator to assist in customizing artifacts and authoring content. The authoring farm is often divided into separate site collections for authoring content and then staging the content before publishing it, although a staging site collection is not required.

Instead of using software configuration management to maintain authored content and artifacts, authors and designers use the content management capabilities of Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007. Content that is approved and finalized in the authoring environment can be deployed by the farm administrator to the pilot environment for testing. The farm administrator typically deploys approved content by using the content deployment features in connected deployments and the Content Migration APIs in disconnected deployments.

In a developer-centric approach, designers do not create artifacts in the authoring environment. Instead, designers create artifacts in the development environment. These artifacts are eventually deployed to the authoring environment from the integration environment by using solutions. In a few exceptional developer-centric deployments with centralized software configuration management, approved content from the authoring environment is deployed to the software configuration management environment by using automated processes, and then deployed to the pilot and production environments.

The pilot environment is where testers ensure that all site elements function as expected in network and security conditions that match the conditions of the production environment.

Artifacts and authored content created in the authoring environment are deployed to the pilot environment using the content deployment features, or the Content Migration APIs in disconnected deployments. Developed elements and artifacts created in the development environment and tested for integration purposes in the integration environment are deployed to the pilot environment as solutions.

Testers verify that these site elements function as expected. After testing, the independent deployment processes for content that originated from the development and authoring environments is maintained. Content and artifacts created in the authoring site are deployed by the farm administrator in the pilot environment from the pilot environment to the production environment using the content deployment features. Developed site elements and artifacts created in the development environment are deployed to the production environment from the integration environment.

In a few exceptional developer-centric deployments with centralized software configuration management, all site elements are maintained in the software configuration management environment and deployed to the production environment from that environment.

The pilot environment is typically maintained as a test environment for new content, artifacts, and developed site elements throughout the life of the site. In a few simple deployments with minimal customizations after the initial deployment of the site, it is possible to use the same environment as a pilot environment during initial testing and deployment, and as the production environment thereafter. This saves the expense of maintaining separate environments, but is not recommended because it makes future customizations more difficult.

The production environment is where sites and all site elements are deployed for use in ongoing projects. Production environments typically consist of one or more farms running sites according to the information architecture planned by the architect. Several client workstations are part of this environment, which can exist in relatively open security and network conditions depending upon the purpose of the environment.

Content, artifacts, and developed site elements are only deployed to this environment after they have been successfully tested in the pilot environment, and they continue to be tested in the pilot environment as new site elements are introduced and the production environment changes over time. Content created in the authoring environment is deployed to the production environment using the content deployment features, or the Content Migration APIs in disconnected deployments. Content created in the development environment is deployed to the production environment by using the solutions deployment framework.

In a few exceptional developer-centric deployments, content, developed elements, and customizations are packaged as integrated solutions and deployed directly to the production environment from a centralized software configuration management environment.

This topic is included in the following downloadable book for easier reading and printing:

See the full list of available books at Downloadable books for Office SharePoint Server 2007.

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