Colour Your Environment

Have you ever been about to type a command and stopped to double-check if you’re on a test server or a production box? Or even executed a command and then had your heart stop because you weren’t sure which environment you’re logged in to?
One of the most effective ways to make sure you always know which environment you’re in is simply to colour-code. Use different coloured backgrounds on your desktops or change the colours of your menu bars.
When choosing colours I suggest the following:

  • Be consistent in your colouring. E.g. Production environments should always be the same colour. Never any other colour.
  • Use a simple colour scheme. Mark important differences rather than unimportant ones. For example, a 3 colour system: production, test and development environments.
  • Use a memorable colour scheme. For example, red for production to indicate “danger” or “stop”, because you need to be careful with production. Orange for “test” because you can be a little more relaxed but still need to be aware of other tests that are running. Green for your personal development environment, because you should be able to do anything on your own box.
  • Once you’ve picked a colour scheme, use it everywhere: paper folders, physical servers,  whiteboards, everywhere.

Hopefully, if you colour your environment, you’ll never have that “Production? Please don’t be production” feeling again.

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