Tugboat is a SaaS app that builds ephemeral environments for every git pull request or merge request, which we call Previews. These environments can be created automatically when a new pull request or merge request is made to GitHub, GitLab, or Bitbucket, or users can build them manually from branches or tags. When the PR or MR is merged, Tugboat automatically deletes the temporary environments, cleaning up after itself. Tugboat is available in cloud-hosted options, or on-premise for organizations where security is the top consideration.
Our customers use Tugboat for lots of tasks in the development process; from temporary staging environments, to QA environments, to code review environments; and for more complex DevOps tasks like interoperability testing or experimenting with infrastructure changes. The microservices model that Tugboat uses makes it ideal for replicating production infrastructure and building complex environments. Under the hood, Tugboat uses Docker images to create containers that provide working previews of your production websites and web apps.
Tugboat was developed in its current incarnation by Lullabot, a Drupal development, design, and strategy agency, in 2016, as a tool to facilitate collaboration with client development teams and stakeholders. The ability to build working staging environments where client developers and stakeholders could review work before merging it into production was a game-changer for a busy web development agency; it solved common development bottleneck problems, as well as a host of agency-related issues such as difficulties gaining access to client infrastructure.
In time, it became apparent that Tugboat was well-positioned to solve a broad range of use cases for a wide variety of stakeholders, so Lullabot decided to give it a public-facing website and share it with other developers within the Drupal community. In 2018, the Tugboat we know today was launched as a modern SaaS app, with a variety of pricing tiers, as well as cloud hosting and on-premise options, to provide a Tugboat for everyone from indie developers to large enterprise organizations.
Tugboat remains a Lullabot company, and still provides git pull request preview environments for many of Lullabot’s clients.