When I deploy an application, which is almost invariably a PHP application, I like to put a whole new version of the code alongside the existing one that is in use, and when everything is in place, simply switch between the two. As an added bonus, if the sky falls in when the new version goes live, the previous version is uploaded and ready to be put back into service. In order to be able to do this, I have my document root pointing at a symlink, let's say it is called "current". (disclaimer: I have no knowledge of non-linux operating systems, this post is linux-specific)
When it is time to deploy, I place the new code onto the server, and create two new symlinks, one called "previous" which points to the same location as the "current" symlink does (bear with me) and one called "next" which points to the location of the new code. To deploy, all I need is this:
mv -fT next current
The f forces mv to overwrite the target if needs be, and the T directs mv to consider the second argument as a normal file, rather than as a directory to copy in to. The neat thing about doing it this way is that it happens in a single move, no weird results for people who manage to hit your site while you are typing the new symlink command or during the code updating. It is also just as simple to roll back from this, since you have a symlink pointing to the previously used code version.
I thought I'd share this snippet as it is a handy inclusion in deployment scripts/strategies. What are your tips for managing code deployment?