What are "Review Apps"?

"Review Apps" are sometimes called "Branch Previews", "Preview Apps", "Ephemeral Environments" or "Demo Environments". But what are Review Apps exactly and does your team need them?

The basic concept behind Review Apps is, that you do not have only a local development environment on the developer's machine and one staging environment to develop, test, and demo new features.

With "Review Apps" you have an automatic live preview environment for every branch, pull request/merge request or, even commit. This environment is spun up and configured automatically if you push changes to your code repository.

How are "Review Apps" Done From a Technical Point of View?

It works in the same way as a CI/CD pipeline. When you push changes to your Git provider (like GitHub or GitLab) it triggers a new build of your system. This can be one Javascript Frontend project or a couple of services developed with different technologies all interacting with each other.

The system is then deployed into the cloud and a link to your live preview is sent back to GitHub or GitLab.

If you click the link you have your new changes up and running in a live preview environment.

Why are "Review Apps" Fantastic?

A development setup with Review Apps has multiple benefits.

With "Review Apps" you can start your feedback process much sooner. As soon as a feature is developed it can be used by designers or product owners to give feedback. There is no need to set up a development environment on the machine of a designer or product owner. They just click a link and have a running environment ready.

This makes testing way easier. If you do now have a specific device to test your new feature, just send the link to your preview to the tester who has the device.

"Review Apps" speed up the development process because every developer can spin up preview environments without any Ops or DevOps work. Developers only push their changes and the rest is done automatically.

If you use the same Dockerfile that you use in production for your Review Apps then you basically have an unlimited number of staging systems.

This will transform the way your team works. As feedback loops become faster you will also reduce the amount of waste you develop, because you identify misconceptions earlier on in the process.

How can I Have "Review Apps" for my Projects?

You can use WunderPreview to have automatic preview environments for your grown software project in no time. If you have a Dockerfile you are already good to go. You do not need to create a configuration file just connect your GitHub or GitLab account and you will get links to your automatic live preview in your pull requests or merge requests.

Give it a try, the first 30 days are free!

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Screenshot of WunderPreview Dashboard