Managing your workflow

Use the Workflow page in the Acquia Cloud interface at Cloud > Workflow to manage your code, files, databases, and to make backup copies of your website's databases.

Each new website in Acquia Cloud has three available environments:

Environment Short name Code name
Development Dev dev
Staging Stage test (rarely, stg)
Production Prod prod

Acquia Cloud Enterprise websites may have additional environments, while Acquia Cloud Free websites do not have a Production environment. The code name is used in pathnames and in API calls, among other places. If you are in any doubt about the code names of your environments, you can get a list with the drush ac-environment-list command.

On the Cloud > Workflow page, you can deploy code, database, or files from one environment to another with a simple drag and drop.

Drag code from the Development environment to the Staging environment

Any of the environments can deploy any code branch or tag from your code repository. When an environment is set to a branch, it always deploys the most recent code (the HEAD) of that branch, and deploys new commits to the branch. When an environment is set to a tag, it deploys that exact tag until you use the Workflow page to deploy another branch or tag. Generally, you want the Development environment to deploy your primary development branch, which might be /trunk in SVN or master in Git. The Staging and Production environments are best used for deploying named tags in your repository so that the code you test or run in production is always an exact known entity. It's especially important to run a tag, not a branch, on your Production environment. Otherwise, code changes can be made directly to your live production website without prior testing by committing to the branch.

When you use the Workflow page to drag code from one environment to another, Acquia Cloud does one of two things. If the source environment is running a branch (such as /trunk in SVN or master in Git), Acquia Cloud creates a new symbolic tag that points to the most recent commit on that branch, and then changes the target environment to run the new tag. If the source environment is already running a tag, Acquia Cloud changes the target environment to run the source tag. It does not create a "tag of a tag."

You can deploy any directory (containing a Drupal docroot subdirectory) to your live web server. On the Workflow page, you can see which path is deployed and change it by choosing a tag or entering the path to the new deployment branch in the text box.

When you drag databases or your website's files from one environment to another, Acquia Cloud copies them from the source to the target environment. You can copy any database or file from any environment to any other, except when you are in Production mode. In Production mode, you cannot copy a database or file to the Production environment.

Viewing websites

The Cloud > Workflow page displays a link to the website URL for each environment. Click the link to visit the website in a new window.

Visit website

Updating the Development and Stage environments

As an alternative to dragging your code, databases, and files between environments individually, you can update the code, databases, and files in your Development or Staging environments from the menus on the Workflow page. Before you use this feature to overwrite your databases, you may want to make a backup of your database first.

Updating Development from Production

To see what your Development environment looks like with the latest configuration and content from your live website, the Development environment's databases and files need to be synced with the Production environment. You can drag them individually to the Development environment on the Workflow page, or you can use the menu. To update your Development environment with the databases and files of your Production environment using the menu:

  1. Click the menu in the Development environment and click Copy content from Prod.

    Copy content from Prod

  2. Select Copy all databases from Prod to Dev, Copy all user-uploaded files from Prod to Dev, or both, and click Submit.

Updating Staging from Development and Production

To test your latest changes on the Staging environment, you should update your Staging environment with the code from your Development environment and the databases and files of your Production environment. You can drag them individually to the Staging environment on the Workflow page, or you can use the menu:

  1. Click the menu in the Staging environment and click Update code and content.

    Update code and content on Stage

  2. Select one or more of Deploy code from Dev to Stage, Copy all databases from Prod to Stage, and Copy all user-uploaded files from Prod to Stage, and click Submit.

    Updating the Staging environment

Acquia Cloud updates the databases and files of your Staging environment by copying the Production databases and files over into the Staging environment, and updates the code of your Staging environment by copying the code from your Development environment.

Protecting the Development and Staging environments

By default, your Development and Staging environments can be viewed by anyone on the internet who has the URL. Acquia Cloud uses a robots.txt file to disallow indexing of those domains by search engine robots, so they should not be discoverable through search. You can further protect your Development and Staging environments by adding password protection. For more information, see Password Protect Non-Production Environments.

Additional environments for Acquia Cloud Enterprise

If you are an Acquia Cloud Enterprise customer, you may want more environments than the Development, Staging, and Production environments you get initially. For information about how to set this up, see Additional environments for Acquia Cloud Enterprise.

Production mode and Pre-launch mode in the Production environment

When you first create a website, the Production environment is in Pre-launch mode. When you are ready to publish the website, you should change it to Production mode. In Pre-launch mode, you can freely drag your files or database to the Production environment. In Production mode, you cannot copy your files or database to the Production environment. This protects you from possibly destroying your live website by overwriting your Production files and databases.

To change your Production environment's mode:

  1. Sign in to Acquia, select your website, and then open the Workflow page at Cloud > Workflow.

    Changing to Production mode

  2. Open the menu in the Production environment, and then click either Switch to Pre-Launch mode or Switch to Production mode.
  3. Click Change mode.

Generally, you copy databases and files up to the Production environment only until you first launch your website. After that, you push code to Production, but you pull databases and files backwards from Production to Staging and Development for testing and development.

Remote Administration environments

We recommend that you do not copy code, databases, and files directly from Remote Administration (RA) environments to the Production environment. When Acquia deploys to an RA environment, configuration changes are made, and some of those changes are stored in the database. Because of this, moving that database to Production can have unintended consequences.

Code branches running in an RA environment should first be tested on the Development or Staging environments before you copy them to the Production environment.

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