Continuous preview environments are set up to run automatically and on-demand to provide a continuous feedback loop during development, rather than in separate QA environments. They are a reliable method for making the collaboration between Development and Product more effective and efficient. Our colleague Razvan wrote an excellent article on CPEs a while back, so check it out here for a bit more background.
However, setting up CPEs and incorporating them into your workflow can be a little tricky, especially if you are starting out. Luckily, there are tools available that make your life easier. For instance the excellent vercel.com makes deploying previews for most front-end components a snap. But if you want your previews to be truly full-stack you will need more.
After being introduced to it earlier this year, our team has come to really like using Uffizzi. Rather than an Italian art gallery, it is actually an open-source engine that lets you create continuous preview environments for APIs and full-stack applications. Its ability to spin out individual development branches with the click of a button has enabled our team to collaborate much more effectively.
To begin with, we like that Uffizzi is cross-platform, which means it can be used with any Version Control System, Continuous Integration System and Container Registry. Its flexibility and adaptability is a really neat feature for an agency like ours that works with different tech stacks all the time.
We also frequently use Docker Compose in our projects and like Uffizzi’s sleek integration with the tool. Using docker-compose, Uffizzi lets you deploy any service that can be containerised, and using a single docker-compose file you can control all the containers that you want to be deployed, including:
Two other big selling points: automation and pipeline management. Our team automates as many workflows as possible, so any tool we use needs to be compatible with either Github Actions or Gitlab. Uffizzi does this with aplomb, offering:
As we all know, a good UI makes for great UX, so we like that Uffizzi has a really intuitive, user-friendly dashboard where you can see your environment together with container logs. And if you are ever stuck or need a little help, we have found their support team really responsive and helpful, which is always a bonus.
Lastly, we also appreciate that the tool is free to use for open source projects - we love open source tech, and any effort to further support the principles and community behind it gets a thumbs up from us.
Why not give it a go and find out for yourself: You can learn more about the technology, sign up for a live demo or create a free account on uffizzi.com.