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The next step in building out your app is adding a service. For comfortable development and testing, start with a separate branch for development.

Create a preview environment Anchor to this heading

To develop without affecting production, you need a separate environment. Create one in a terminal:

platform branch dev main

This creates a separate environment with its own data. It’s based on your default branch (the last argument in the command). This means it copies all data and services from its parent.

Because nothing about your dev environment is different, it reuses the built containers from your main environment. This saves time and ensures the build is the same whenever the environment is the same.

Add environment variable Anchor to this heading

To make your dev environment different, change the environment by adding a variable. Add a variable available in the build:

platform variable:create example --visible-build true --environment dev --value "This is a variable"

This example variable is visible in the build and so its creation triggers a new build of your app.

Read variable Anchor to this heading

To see the difference in the environments, read the variable in each environment.

Read the variable from your dev environment:

platform variable:get --environment dev example

This returns a table with information on the variable including its creation date and value.

Read the variable from your main environment:

platform variable:get --environment main example

You get a message saying the variable wasn’t found.

Differences such as this allow you to have different builds in different environments. This is useful for things such as connecting to different databases in development and production.

Now you have a preview environment and know how it works. Next, add a service in that environment and then merge it.

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