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Definition

canary (canary test, canary deployment)

In software testing, a canary is a push of programming code changes to a small group of end users who are unaware that they are receiving new code. Because the canary is only distributed to a small number of users, its impact is relatively small and changes can be reversed quickly should the new code prove to be buggy. Canary tests, which are often automated, are run after testing in a sandbox environment has been completed.

For incremental code changes, a canary approach to delivering functionality allows the development team to quickly evaluate whether or not the code release provides the desired outcome. The word canary was selected to describe the code push to a subset of users because canaries were once used in coal mining to alert miners when toxic gases reached dangerous levels. Like the canary in a coal mine, the end user who is selected to receive new code in a canary test is unaware he is being used to provide an early warning.

In canary testing, a small subset of traffic serves as a test for updates. If anything in the update causes problems, it alerts the IT team before a large group of users feel the effects. In canary testing, a small subset of end users serves as a test group for updates. If anything in the update causes problems, it alerts the IT team before a large group of users feel the effects.

This was last updated in November 2016

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I think there might be a typo here.
Users "not volunteering" seems like a seriously dubious business practice.
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seems dubious, skindeep. but consider this. you go to your local mcdonalds. 
you order a milkshake. you notice somethings different. they ask you after how you like it. (or maybe just dubiously monitor your consumption and enjoyment level)
they are trying this only at the mcdonalds you went to.
there's 3 ways this plays out. 
1. you and nearly all others spit it out, dont drink it all, complain to the manager. next week, milkshake back to normal, and no other stores rolled it out.
2. you wonder whats different, slurp it down, and give the manager your enchanted feedback. now every mcdonalds carries this. perhaps they'll still even be nice enough to carry "milkshake classic" (until further burn in of the "new milkshake" roll out phase.
3. you and about half of everyone hate it, but a good half loves it. mcdonalds CEO makes a risky decision to roll it out in other restaurants.

its not that dubious. and perhaps common. it just seems dubious because code is a lot less tangible than something one puts in one's mouth. but its not. its as common as Cheesy Gordita Crunches, Bacon Smokehouse McDoubles and all the other wonderful things we don't necessarily volunteer to have added to our menus, but gleefully, and usually, enjoy. And the reason we keep going back to the same restaurants, is often, because they are willing to try new things.
Cheers!
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There's a bit of confusion here.
Users' reaction and experience might be tested with this "canary code" but those users do not perform any testing.

Testing includes investigation, isolation, and reporting of the problem. "It sucks" is not very actionable report but one can't hope to get any better with this so called "canary testing".
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Does Amazon Web Services allow canary release?
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