Why your Vercel & Netlify deploy previews need Livecycle

Why your Vercel & Netlify deploy previews need Livecycle

The value of preview environments

Ephemeral environments (also known as “deploy previews” or “PR preview environments) are transient, staging-like environments that can be created automatically. They have become increasingly valuable for development teams for automatically initiating E2E, integration, or UAT tests based on a set of triggers.

In the context of multidisciplinary teams with technical and non-technical stakeholders, deploy previews give everyone a way to see the latest changes in any pull request or branch.

How Livecycle exploits the collaborative potential of preview environments

But while these environments provide a basis for reviewing the latest changes, they are effectively “read-only”. The deploy previews on their own don’t help teams to collect, relay and discuss the inevitable rounds of review comments. Every stakeholder is forced to use outside communication and issue management tools to try and describe what they think about the deploy preview they are looking at.

This created a fragmented, inefficient and frustrating review workflow.

And that’s where Livecycle comes in. Because Livecycle turns these “read-only” preview environments into collaborative playgrounds where teams can collaborate in the context of the product itself.

After Livecycle’s SDK is installed, each preview environment includes Livecycle’s built-in collaboration tools enabling stakeholders to leave review comments and collaborate with teammates right there on the product UI.

Livecycle also supports integrations that make sure review comments are relayed to other communication, SCM and task management platforms like Slack, Linear, Jira, Github and Gitlab.

By adding Livecycle to their preview environment pipeline, teams can exploit the full potential of their preview environments to shorten feedback loops, limit unnecessary meetings, resolve issues faster and push code to production sooner.

Native Vercel & Netlify Features

The Livecycle SDK is compatible with virtually any preview environment, regardless of which CI pipeline is used to build it. And indeed, there are many platforms out there offering the deploy previews capability. Of this growing collection of PaaS services, Vercel and Netlify have emerged as perhaps the most popular and well-known.

So it’s no surprise that people ask us how we compare to the native annotation features advertised by Vercel and Netlify. If these platforms offer something similar, what is the advantage of installing Livecycle on a Vercel or Netlify preview environment?

Why Livecycle is different

Livecycle is a collaboration product. Vercel & Netlify are not.

Vercel and Netlify are deployment platforms by design. So while they do offer some baked-in annotation capabilities, these features are limited and offer a shallow collaboration experience. Livecycle on the other hand is focused on providing rich collaboration to optimize workflows and tighten feedback loops.

Here are a few specific examples of Livecycle’s unique features:

  • One click screenshots - Livecycle lets you take capture screenshots out of the box, with no additional extensions needed
  • CSS editing tool - Livecycle lets reviewers modify the CSS and HTML elements on the page and submit them as suggested changes. This makes it much easier to instantly propose and review changes to texts, margins, fonts, colors and more
  • Session recordings - Livecycle maintains sessions recording and logging so that developers can understand the full context of the feedback coming their way
  • Threads and messaging - While Netlify and Vercel support isolated comments (when enabled), Livecycle supports active communucation threads for every comment and feedback item. Teams can use Livecycle to have the necessary dialogue on a specific issue, understand the full context, and bring it quickly to resolution.
  • Collaboration via Github - Livecycle allows developers to view, respond and resolve comments that are left in Livecycle

Livecycle is built for multidisciplinary teams. Not just for developers.

Vercel and Netlify are dev-centric deployment platforms. It is not easy for other critical stakeholder (such as UI designers, PMs, QA, marketing and management) to access or use their native collaboration tools. Livecycle on the other hand is designed to “level the playing field” of the pull request. Livecycle enables all relevant stakeholders to access the deploy preview, and collaborate so that the whole team has a single collaborative context to work with.

Here are a few specific examples of how Livecycle achieves this:

  • Easily invite reviewers that are not in GitHub - Using Livecycle, non-technical stakeholders without GitHub access can be invited to view, collaborate and sign off on a PR deploy preview
  • Dashboard with clear context - Livecycle makes all playgrounds accessible with a dashboard that gives everyone clear context for what’s been changed and what needs to be reviewed in each playground


Because Vercel and Netlify are deployment platforms, their pricing follows a usage-based/per-deployment model. Because Livecycle is a collaboration tool, our pricing model is per-user that uses the collaboration functionality, and not based on bulk usage or number of deployments.

Bottom line

Vercel and Netlify are great as deployment platforms. Their deploy preview functionality is potentially a great way to initiate a collaborative review process within your organization. And by adding a true collaboration tool such as Livecycle to your Netlify and Vercel previews, you can fully actualize this potential in the context of your deploy previews.

Get the Livecycle SDK today



December 20, 2022

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