This article is a high-level view of the purpose of the Terra Dotta sandbox, the difference between Terra Dotta sandbox and production, and between SEVIS Beta and Production.
What the Terra Dotta Sandbox Is:
- A great place to practice building process elements.
- A place to work on your advanced layout and custom style sheet (CSS file).
- A safe SEVIS beta environment for batch testing with anonymized data.
- The best place to test the data integrity of the integration between Terra Dotta using a small subset of your Student Information System (SIS) datafile.
- A place where you can identify possible batching pitfalls and make corrections.
- Included with your license.
What the Terra Dotta Sandbox Is NOT:
- An exact replica of your institution’s information in SEVIS Production.
- A staging area to design all aspects of your production site - built processes cannot be migrated from sandbox to production.
- A compliance tool.
- Only beneficial during integration and implementation.
Client sandboxes, including SEVIS Beta, are separate from Terra Dotta and SEVIS production sites, and need not contain anything related to SEVIS Production.
SEVIS Beta links to the Terra Dotta sandbox. This is to support batch testing.
The only information that must be valid is the email addresses used for the school officials so that they can receive password reset and approval notifications for their SEVIS Beta sites. Actual student data should be avoided in the test environment; all records created should be fictitious and for testing purposes only.
The assignment of school officials in SEVIS Beta can be different than in SEVIS Production, and they are best assigned to those responsible for performing the actual testing of batch software for the school. When adding officials to SEVIS Beta, schools should enter profile information associated with those individuals who will be testing for the school. The school officials assigned to the test school may be technical personnel who are not assigned as officials on the Form I-17 in SEVIS Production.
The SEVIS Beta environments still mirror production in their functionality; for example, accounts will still lock due to inactivity, certain updates to Forms I-17 and DS-3036 still require approval (send email to email@example.com for processing), the rules regarding SEVIS are still enforced. The system will still generate the actual emails used in production depending on the event. To mimic OPT requests or change of status requests (for example), send email to firstname.lastname@example.org to request adjudication. A few things are not required - notably, program fees and recertifications/redesignations are waived.
The batch certificate can be used in any environment and by as many people as needed. Think of the certificate as a key: you give SEVIS a public copy of it so that SEVP knows when you use it, but nothing prevents you from “keying” all your other locks with it. The batch certificate is also provided to Terra Dotta to be installed on our SEVISLink servers, facilitating our cloud processing of SEVIS batches. The expectation is that schools won’t provide the “key” to anyone who is not authorized to use it. Of course, if deemed necessary, a separate digital batch certificate can be used for SEVIS Beta, and some schools and programs follow this practice. It doesn't matter who buys the digital batch certificate, or the email associated with the digital batch certificate, as long as the same certificate is installed on the Terra Dotta server and SEVIS. See our SEVIS Admin: Batch Certificate Purchase, Conversion, and Uploading for more information.