Welcome to Vanilla!
One of the coolest things about Vanilla is that the platform is super customizable; different communities will have very different feature sets based on community type, moderation style, and of course, community manager preferences.
Let's get started!
Trial & Production Sites
When you were evaluating Vanilla as a platform, you were probably given access to a trial instance, which hopefully allowed you to experiment with the product. That trial site will eventually become your production site once you join the Vanilla community -- eventually this will be the live site where your community starts to grow.
It will typically have its own custom domain.
A Staging site is a sandbox environment where you can test things out before giving the "OK" to those changes or features to make their way to Production.
If your subscription qualifies for a staging site, you'll always have access to it and it will remain even after your Community has launched. Admins and moderators can learn, try out new features, and do testing on the staging site.
What's the difference between staging and production?
Your production and staging sites are two separate instances of your community.
All changes made on staging will need to be manually copied to production: there is currently no way to automatically move settings from staging to production. Typically, staging is used for testing, learning & training, and most often for theme development.
How does that affect my migration to Vanilla?
Test and Final Migrations will go on the Trial/Production site, which will wipe the database on production - Staging will not be affected.