Moving a Project to Production
Why should I move my project into Production?
It may tempting to keep a project in Development and so retain the ability to change your project with minimal effort. However, it is important to move the project into production before collecting real data.
Data Safety/Security against errors
Data that is collected in a project in Development is exposed to the following common errors:
- Changes to field name – the field name in REDCap is unique and any simple change to the name of the field, even one letter, will result in a loss of all data that has been entered into that field. REDCap will not allow you to make a change to the variable name in a project that is in Production, thus protecting your data.
- Changes to events – The events in REDCap longitudinal project define the existence of instances of the forms. What might look like moving a form from one event to another in a project in Development is actually deleting one form (and all data associated with that form) and creating a new one in a new event. As a result, such a change will result in loss of data. REDCap will not allow you to make a change to the events in a project that is in Production, again protecting your data. If a change is needed, you can contact us to assist you, thus allowing us the opportunity to talk through potential data loss and solutions before implementing the change.
- Changes to the options in Radio Button, Drop Down and Checkbox fields – Changes to the options in these fields can result in corruption of your data. For example, Let’s say you have a radio button field that asks “What is your favorite Ice Cream?” with the value,options of:
and the response entered was 1, Vanilla. The answer “1” is saved in REDCap as the response. If you then change the field to have the options:
1, Rocky Road
2, Pralines and Cream
The answer you originally selected will still be “1” in REDCap, but REDCap will now show it as “Rocky Road” which was not the answer selected. A project in Development will make this change with no warning, assuming you are entering test data. A project in Production will need approval for such a change, allowing us the opportunity to talk through potential data corruption before the change is implemented.
Project Revision History
Since Development is a status that indicates to REDCap that you are still designing your project, REDCap will not keep track of any changes you make to your project while it is Development. Once you move a project to Production, REDCap will start tracking any changes you make to the project and will allow you to download the data dictionary from any point after the move to Production. This will allow you to easily revert to a version of the project prior to a change, or to even just document the changes you made.