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Jenkins User Conference 2016 – Impressions

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Today I attended the Jenkins User Conference, held in Israel, hosted by JFrog.

First off I have to say the event was very well organized. Great location, everything on schedule, no technical issues, some nice swag, and excellent food and drinks throughout the day (including afternoon beer!). Considering there were about 450 people there, that is no small task…

The guest of honor was Kohsuke Kawaguchi (KK), the creator of Jenkins, who gave an interesting keynote, with overview about the concepts behind Jenkins 2.0, and some anecdotes from the history of Jenkins.

The main theme of the conference was that Speed is Everything, as you can figure from JFrog’s motto, “Release fast or die”. Their view is that software today is about continuous update – you basically deploy your products once, and from there onward you struggle to update them as often as possible, as seamlessly as possible, without negative effects on the user experience. This raises numerous challenges which various vendors and open source projects are striving to solve.

There conference was packed with sessions related to the DevOps world, mostly about making things faster without losing control on the process. Liveperson, for example, discussed how they manage 6000 releases a year, with over 10K builds per week.

Read more…

Code reviews are not just for catching bugs

An interesting post by FullStory.

 

Git in Visual Studio: Prevent Fast-Forward Merge

A useful feature of git merge is the –no-ff flag. What it does is always generate a merge commit, even if it was a fast-forward (trivial) merge.

The main point of using this feature is avoid losing information about the historical existence of a certain branch, and (to some degree) being able to associate commits with the branches they were created on.

Turns out, this feature existed in Team Explorer for quite some time, but you would never guessed it if you didn’t stumble upon this User Voice entry.

By unchecking the “commit changes after merging” option, you’ll prevent a fast-forward merge and have the ability supply a custom commit message.

Why not just call it ‘prevent fast-forward merge’? 🙂

 

Python in Visual Studio 2015

When I first heard that Visual Studio 2015 is going to support developing with Python, I wasn’t sure how to react. Microsoft? Python? it just doesn’t seem related. I was very skeptical about working in Python within Visual Studio.

Recently I started a new pet project in GitHub to play around with VS integration to GitHub. So I figured, let’s include some Python code just to see how it feels working with Python in VS.

And it feels great, actually! Visual Studio users would feel right at home with IntelliSense-like auto completion and tooltips, debugging capabilities, unit testing with Test Explorer, advanced searching and editing, and more. I would dare comparing it to some of the best Python IDEs out there like PyCharm. GitHub integration also work seamlessly.

This Python support (a.k.a Python Tools for Visual Studio) is included in the free Visual Studio 2015 Community edition, and even available as open source on GitHub.

Microsoft! on GitHub! Times are changing, indeed.

Netflix build process

Netflix are well known for their excellent deployment capabilities.

In this article they go over their build process and tools, from compiling code all the way to production, and presenting their current challenges and future plans.

A highly recommend read for anyone who is interested in doing DevOps the right way.

Branch in Code (a.k.a. Config Flags)

Inspired by an article on CM Crossroads I stumbled upon lately, I’d like to give a high-level overview on this concept, commonly use in web site developments and can also be applied to cloud applications. But most people (like me) who work with ‘installable’ software never heard of it, and if they did, they regard it as an alien concept that just can’t work.

The short version is this:

  • Your software is a service. There is only a single deployment of that software, which means a single relevant codebase.
  • Hence there is no point of doing branching and merging in your source control. Everyone commits to the mainline
  • Instead of branching, developers wrap every piece of new code with some condition that can be controlled externally (e.g. a flag in a config file, user properties, server environment, etc.)

This way you can “switch versions in runtime”. Which lets you do things like:

  • Get rid of feature branches and merges – just deploy the “dark code” (partial/untested code) for a new feature ahead of time and, when the feature is ready, you can easily turn it on (and off if problems appear)
  • Roll out an update gradually and selectively
  • Rollback an update in a matter of seconds
  • Offer different UI experience to different users
  • Test new code on production servers (by conditioning based on e.g. user id or IP range)
  • And more…

Challenges:

  • The code can become somewhat “ugly”. Although many of those flags eventually get removed from the code once they don’t have a use in production.
  • ‘config file explosion’ – there are several different approaches regarding controlling the amount and lifespan of configuration flags
  • ‘mysterious flags’ – here too, there are some ideas about maintaining proper documentation as well as performing cleanup/refactoring as needed.

 

Executive summary of msi upgrade

After having to do that a few times recently, I decided to put down a short summary on how msi upgrades work. It’s may not be 100% accurate and doesn’t go into much details, but if you want to explain it to colleagues or managers who know very little of msi, it should satisfy them.

So here it goes:

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