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What To Keep In Mind When Setting Up Development Environments

Initiating development on a software project is not as simple as installing an IDE, connecting to a git repository, and starting development. Modern developments are complex affairs with many requirements and dependencies to get the software up and running. With security taking center stage, we must adhere to the policies set up by the organization even when setting up a development environment.

While all these things may seem overly complicated, we can easily set up robust development environments by following some simple guidelines.

Install and Set up the Correct Tool Set

The first thing to consider is the prerequisites for the development that can range from the programming languages used, libraries and dependencies with their specific versions, and any other tools or services needed for the development. For example, suppose you are doing a Python-based data analytics development. In that case, a specialized IDE like Spyder that is designed for scientific computing will be more suitable than a generalized IDE like PyCharm.

In most cases, the software will rely on multiple programming languages. So, your selected IDE must support all the required languages. If there are no recommendations from the organization, always go with the IDE you are most familiar with. You also have the option of using code editors like VSCode and customizing it to your heart’s content to create the perfect development tool. Additionally, explore extensions or plugins available for that IDE to customize the development environment further.

Next up are the libraries and dependencies. Ensure all these libraries and dependencies are correctly installed and configured in their required location, accessible to the program, and set up as environment variables or included in the system paths. Besides, platforms like Docker, K8s, and testing tools might also need to be installed and configured to test the developments locally before pushing the changes to the repository.

Follow the Proper Security Guidelines

Organizations may enforce policies to restrict what and who can access certain development areas such as repositories and CI/CD pipelines. Additionally, they may enforce what users can keep in their local environments. Things like SSH Keys, Access Tokens, and User Credentials must be kept locally, but then they must be regularly rotated with automated expiry for most credentials.

Another factor is how the local development environment interacts with the organizational resources. While you can use your inbuilt authentication mechanisms for cloud services and SCM, it may be required to connect to a VPN to access internal resources such as servers and CI/CD tools. In that case, the users must also configure the correct access methods and ensure all the resources are securely accessed.

Ensure the Environment Configurations are Correct

This can be the most complicated part of setting up the environment. Ensure that the development tools and software can correctly access the necessary resources, including libraries and dependencies and any other required resources. It is not a good experience if your IDE is complaining about a missing resource or build failing due to dependencies when you try to start development. For example, a common git error like “unable to get local issuer certificate” can occur if the local certificate is not properly configured or not put in the correct path making the system unable to locate it. Therefore, users must carry out configurations all the way from the system level to the software and file level.

Do Regular Cleanups

Developers should incorporate cleanups of the development environments as a part of the routine. There will be a lot of ancillary objects created when developing, such as files, logs, and test reports. They must be deleted or moved from the development environment.

On top of that, software, libraries, and the OS itself will require maintenance and cleanup. These tasks can range from regular updates, clearing cache and reorganizing the environment to better suit ongoing development needs. Cleanups should also include sensitive information such as tokens, keys, etc. There, expired details must be removed and replaced with renewed details.

Implement a Backup Strategy to the Environment

Backups are not only for keeping application data, but they should extend to all the aspects of the organization, including development environments. The best solution for this need will be a complete image backup of the development environment with the OS. It will allow users to quickly restore their environments when disasters strike.

Another best practice is to back up the software configurations using functionality like account sync or backing up the settings manually. Since the application code lives in the SCM, the impact of losing code in the development environment would be minimal as only local changes will be lost. Therefore, it’s always advisable to do regular commits and push to the remote repo to keep everything up-to-date.


Setting up the development environment is the initial step in any development process, and users need to set up a robust environment to carry out their development workload. The practices mentioned above will help users avoid common pitfalls encountered when configuring the development environment and lead to a worry-free and secure development experience.

Originally posted 2021-12-08 18:26:17. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

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