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GitLab looks to transform app testing

GitLab is providing "ephemeral app environments" to enhance application testing on its code repository platform with its Reviews Apps capability being unveiled Tuesday.

Review Apps lets developers create temporary applications to see how existing code works and to review merge requests before shipping into production. This way, code does not need to pulled down locally. An extension of GitLab's CI capabilities, the feature is being added in GitLab 8.14.

With Review Apps, developers can test and demo new features, while product managers can see what a merge request would look like. They are created dynamically when a new branch is pushed up to GitLab and are automatically deleted when the branch is.

"We believe that with Review Apps, a number of tasks development teams do today could become optional,"said Mark Pundsack, head of product at GitLab. "For example, the development stage, used to view review changes in the environment a developer is pushing to, likely goes away since Review Apps spin up a live environment for each merge request."

Staging also could become could become optional. "For most teams, staging is often the first time designers and product managers get to see and click through the effects of the code developers have written," said Pundsack. "With Review Apps designers and product managers can give feedback earlier in the process by using the Review Apps preview link to see the live changes."

Developers can test if changes work without doing any additional work beyond submitting a merge request, and designers, product managers, and quality assurance engineers won't have to check out branches or spin up a staging environment to preview changes. Review Apps also means it will be easier to give feedback, GitLab said.

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