ASP.NET Development SQL Server

Experts:

What's a decent, simple way to reference a separate SQL server when developing, so that none of my testing hits the production server?  I do all my own design, development and testing on my own.  I already have a separate SQL server I can use.

I'm envisioning making a "clone" of all my databases on the soon-to-be development server, and then having to manually tweak connectionstrings in web.config every time I release.  What's the proper way to do this?
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tknudsen-qecAsked:
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zvytasCommented:
Yes, your understanding is correct - DNS setup would have to be done every time code is migrated.

Another commonly used option is web.config transformation. You can find more info about this here:

http://blogs.msdn.com/b/webdevtools/archive/2010/10/26/asp-net-web-projects-web-debug-config-amp-web-release-config.aspx
http://drdobbs.com/visualstudio/224201017

Yet another widely used option is modifying config files in the build process, however you need CI environment for that (CruiseControl, TeamCity or similar).
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zvytasCommented:
I used to use custom DNS for this. Your connection string would look something like this:

"...;Server=SQLServer;..."

You than create custom DNS entries - on your development machine it will point to the DEV SQL server. On Production server it will point to Production SQL server.

In this case you don't need to worry about changing connections strings at all.

Hope that helps.
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tknudsen-qecAuthor Commented:
That's certainly worth an accepted or assisted solution.  Ideally I'd have an alternative to bounce off the boss in case this notion doesn't stick.  If I understand correctly, we'd have to remember to set up the DNS any time we migrated/rebuilt/whatevered the production or development machine.

Is this the commonly held practice?  Is there another common method?

I was thinking maybe when I switch my application from DEBUG to RELEASE it could use a separate list of connection strings.  Is this possible/normal/intelligent?
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tknudsen-qecAuthor Commented:
zvytas

Thanks for all.  Very informative.

tk
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