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Using a sandbox environment to develop content

When to use the production environment for draft content and when you might need a sandbox.

If you want to check the layout of a page or write content and seek approval, you should work in the production environment (ie

If you think you do need a sandbox for testing, contact an SDP product owner via They can advise on your specific project or website and, if appropriate, provide you with access to the sandbox back and front ends.

What is a sandbox environment?

The sandbox is a closed environment that looks almost exactly like production (

A sandbox environment is only used for testing. We use it to test new features and functionality (UAT).

This helps us understand how content will function once it has gone live and where it needs improvement.

Content created in the sandbox CMS is available to preview on the connected sandbox front end.

Sandbox environments, like all non-production environments, are protected by a basic authorisation challenge. This is to ensure these pages do not get crawled by Google.

  • A sandbox removes the risk that incomplete pages or features could:
    • be published on a live website by accident
    • be seen by the public
    • disrupt the live site
  • The sandbox is updated on the same schedule as the production environment and occasionally more often.

Our sandbox is temporary

As a test environment, the sandbox is not stable.

It is not where you build content that you want to publish at some stage. Any content created on a sandbox environment has to be recreated in the production environment.

Each time we update the SDP core CMS, the sandbox is overwritten to mirror production. This means that any work created in the sandbox will only last until the next update, when it will be overwritten and lost.

This happens approximately once a month and sometimes more frequently.

Master and development environments

Content editors can not use the master or development environments.

They exist as part of SDP but they are not for use by content editors.

SDP developers regularly merge the master and development environments with the production environment, which overwrites any work done on master and development environments.

Reviewed 16 June 2022

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