How To Create / Deploy / Administer A Website

Jan 20, 2011

I'm accustomed to writing desktop applications in C#.NET. Where I have a nice little solution folder which is also under version control. So at any time, on any computer I can check out whatever version of my software I want run the compiler and have a working copy of my program.

Now I'm looking into developing websites, where the files and data are a lot more dispersed. I'm using ASP.NET, but really my question is more general and could apply to any website framework.

I'm trying to understand the proper work-flow between developing my website, a version control server, and the actual live website that users will see. Obviously this can vary a lot depending on the type and scale of the website, but I'm only considering a pretty simple site. I'm just getting started with this stuff.

All the source files for the site would be stored on a subversion server, which I would check out onto my local computer. My local computer would have a local database which I would use for development of the site. Next I would publish to a test version on my hosted server, which would point to a separate test database. This test database may periodically be replaced by a copy of the live database.

If all goes well I would then publish to a beta version of the site which points to the live data. Users could then check out the beta version to provide feedback. Finally if there are still no problems the source files for the live site would be updated.

Does this make sense? Does anyone have any comments on how this could be improved? Are there any good books or online tutorials available on developing these kind of workflows?

Also the one thing that I'm really not sure about is how to manage changes to the actual schema of the database. I figure with each version I could generate a SQL script that can be use to update the Test and Live databases on the host. However, I'd also like to be able to easily setup a new database for any version of my site with out having to run every update SQL script for every version up to the desired version. Is the best solution to use an ORM like NHibernate or Subsonic so I could always generate my database schema directly from my code?

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