Developing Apps in Production-Like Environments: Meeting the Standard of Excellence

Scott Willson

In software development, particularly within the ServiceNow ecosystem, working towards a standard of excellence is not just aspirational—it's essential. Nick Saban, the esteemed head coach of the Alabama Crimson Tide, often emphasizes the philosophy of playing to a standard, regardless of the situation, score, or time remaining. This principle of unwavering commitment to excellence resonates beyond the football field, finding profound relevance in software development practices, especially in creating applications, features, and configurations within ServiceNow environments.

The Standard of Production

In software development, the production environment is the gold standard against which all efforts are measured. If an app or feature works in development or QA but not production, then you have missed the point of your delivery pipeline. Production represents the pinnacle of your development efforts, and the success rate of your release is a key performance metric. Developing applications and features in environments that closely mirror production not only ensures compatibility and reduces the risk of deployment issues but also upholds the quality and integrity of the final product. This approach aligns with Saban's ethos of maintaining a standard of excellence, focusing on the quality of work rather than the situational demands of doing what's most convenient.

The Perils of Discrepancies

Developing in environments that diverge significantly from production can lead to an array of challenges, notably increased troubleshooting efforts. As updates migrate downstream toward production, discrepancies between environments can result in a higher rate of errors, collisions, and failures. Each of these issues demands problem resolution, a process that entails time and resources. This cycle of troubleshooting not only detracts from the time available for further development and innovation but also introduces delays and compromises project delivery.

The Cost of Compromise

When ServiceNow developers are trapped in the web of troubleshooting, the opportunity cost is high. Each moment spent resolving conflicts or debugging errors is a moment not spent on creating new applications or enhancing existing features. This dynamic reduces productivity and, by extension, delays or decreases project delivery. Moreover, the repeated effort required to ensure compatibility and performance for production releases signifies a misallocation of valuable resources that could otherwise be directed toward development and innovation.

Emulating the Standard: The Role of Cloning

One effective strategy to align development environments with the production standard is through precise and frequent cloning operations. Cloning ensures that all non-production instances are as close to the production environment as possible, minimizing discrepancies and aligning with the standard of excellence. However, traditional cloning operations come with their own challenges, notably the execution time and downtime involved in executing them.

Transforming Cloning with xtype

This is where xtype, an innovation-focused partner within the ServiceNow ecosystem, comes to revolutionize the cloning process. By automating and simplifying cloning operations, xtype Clone View eliminates the chance of lost work and ensures the accuracy of your backup and restoration efforts. xtype's Controlled Synchronization enables developers to maintain production-like environments across all instances without having to clone by continually synchronizing downstream changes to upstream instances. These products and features reduce the likelihood of errors during pre/post-clone efforts and reduce the need to clone, ensuring developers remain focused on what they do best: innovating.

The xtype Advantage

With xtype, the barriers to maintaining production-like environments are dismantled. Developers can now operate within a framework that closely mirrors the production standard, ensuring that any development, testing, or updates carried out in these environments are directly transferrable to production without extensive troubleshooting. This not only accelerates the development cycle but also upholds the standard of excellence that is crucial for success.


Just as the best athletic teams strive to meet a standard of excellence in every game, so must ServiceNow development teams in their projects. Developing apps in production-like environments is not just a best practice—it's a commitment to quality, efficiency, and speed. By leveraging tools like xtype products to streamline cloning operations, ServiceNow developers can ensure that their work meets and exceeds the production standard. In doing so, they honor the principle of playing to a standard, championing excellence in every line of code and every feature developed.

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