This guide explains the different scenarios whereby you may think a sandbox would be useful to test for and why Talis don't provide them as a standard.
We are often asked if we can supply a sandbox for a university to test some of their systems against, this may be your authentication, your integration with your Virtual Learning Environment (VLE)/Learning Management System (LMS) or rollover. This article helps to outline what we see a sandbox as and why actually you don't need to have a sandbox in order to test integration.
What is a sandbox?
A sandbox is a test environment that contains data so that you can test applications against Talis Aspire. When Talis refer to sandboxes we do so in three areas:
- Branding - during implementation or future rebrands of your Talis Aspire Reading List (TARL) tenancy we will use one of our design sandboxes to apply your branding to, for you to review and make changes to. The reason we do this in a sandbox is so that your live tenancy is not affected. All that changes in these environments is the branding no other system configuration is made.
- Talis Aspire Digitised Content (TADC) data import - if you are having a data import as part of your setup of TADC, then we will firstly put the data into a sandbox environment. This is an area in which you can review the imported data to make sure that it is correct before loading it into the live environment.
- Data changes - you could be looking to upgrade your authentication to a newer version but you want to know how this will work. In this instance we will give you access to one of our TARL tenancies that we can set up to reflect your settings but not your underlying data - this way you can test access/ logging in.
For all other integrations you can test against your live tenancy or use one of our test tenancies.
Why doesn't Talis provide sandboxes as a standard process?
As explained above, there are only three areas where a true sandbox is needed and we do provide in those instances.
One of the main reasons for not providing you with sandboxes is that the data becomes old and no longer truly reflects your tenancy. The second is that for most integrations they can be done using your live tenancy as explained below.
What changes can I test using our live tenancy?
There are some key areas where settings may change and you want to test:
- Virtual Learning Environment (VLE)/Learning Management Systems (LMS) - we know for many of you, you like to be able to see how the integration will work if you are moving to LTI. Talis Aspire Reading Lists is read only, and therefore you can link to multiple instances of a VLE (eg. we have some customers who have Blackboard and Moodle, or Canvas and Blackboard), in this instance they need to be able to link TARL to both those environments. The way that the integration in TARL has been setup is so that those multiple "consumer keys" can be created. This means that if you have a test environment for your VLE/LMS then you can point at TARL using one of the "consumer keys" you have created. You can then test without having an impact on TARL.
- Iterative releases: there are two types of releases that we do in the system, the first are iterative releases that are small multiple releases that take place each week, many you are unaware of. These may be changes to processing speed in the system, a new citation style being added others will be customer specific and those customers alerted to the change. These releases are Talis wide and will affect all customers. Before any release we do full testing to ensure that it won't have an impact on your tenancy.
- Major releases or functionality changes: there are two release pathways for bigger changes in the system:
- New functionality - this is released but you can make a decision at what point you want to opt in and start using on your tenancy.
- Evolution of existing functionality - this is where we are adding new features to the product. These can be rolled out in two way, either you enable for a few users (you choose) and then increase the reach when you are happy with it. The second way is that we make it available on one of our TARL environments so you can see it in action first.
This is a decision we take each time at the point that we are working to develop the functionality.
In summary although we don't supply sandboxes as a standard we do want to ensure that we are providing the appropriate test environments at the appropriate point in time to help ensure you are successful. So if you do have something you are wanting to test please raise a support ticket.