[development] Workflow: staging server, source control, and the files directory

Andy Fowlston andy at pedalo.co.uk
Fri Feb 18 10:14:56 UTC 2011

Hi all,

I have a question about people's practices using a staging server and source control. I'm keen for us to have a sensible workflow while developing sites, and currently we have the following setup.

* Developers have local copies of the site where they develop new functionality, which they check in to source control (Subversion).
* The staging server has a checked out version of the repository.
* The repository has a post-commit hook that automatically updates the staging server.
* There are some changes we make directly via the staging server (ie not in code) and for that there's a script that clears caches, dumps the database, and stores that in the repository. (We try to keep as much in code as possible.)

Things have been working well so far, but just recently we started adding content to the site (on the staging server). The problem comes with uploading files via the wysiwyg editor, as this bypasses the normal mechanism of checking into source control and letting the post-commit hook update the staging server automatically. So the question is, what's the best way to keep the staging server's files directory synced with the repository? I'd like to keep things as automated as possible. Here's some ideas:

* On some event (eg. post-commit, cron) I just do something like a simple svn add files/*. This won't prune nicely though.
* Exclude the files directory from source control altogether, and change the local update process to just copy from the staging server's files directory to the local. This would work, just feels slightly wrong to me as the db contains content that refers to the files, and that *is* in source control.
* Maybe I could treat the files directory as a vendor branch and use something like svn_load_dirs.pl to try and keep them in sync. I've not used this script before, and don't know if it would manage this simple situation automatically, or if it would need some manual help. I suppose I could also write a script to parse the output of svn st, but as always would prefer to keep the workload as low as possible :)
* Nice super simple idea I've not considered?!

I'd love to hear what other people in this situation do, or just any ideas at all.

Many thanks,


. . . . . . . 
Andy Fowlston
+44 (0)20 8747 5068
andy at pedalo.co.uk
Skype: andy.pedalo

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