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Feature Branching - Taking the ‘Continuous’ Out Of Continuous Integration

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Feature branch workflows appear to be the flavour of the month for software development right now. At its simplest, features are developed in isolation on their own branch, then merged back to the trunk. More complicated variants exist, most notably Git Flow.
Git is undoubtedly a powerful versioning tool. It makes branching easy and reliable, and it is truly distributed. These capabilities open up a whole range of possibilities and workflows to support different ways of working. But, as usual, the sharper the tool, the easier it is to cut yourself if you don't understand what you are doing.

My problem is this. Feature branching is a very effective way of working when you have a large, distributed team. Code is not integrated with the rest of the codebase without a lot of checking. Pull requests ensure changes - often done by developers who are in other countries, and often part of a loose-knit open source development team - are reviewed by a core team before being integrated, ke…

The Importance of Being Able to Build Locally

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A little while back I wrote an article describing how to do continuous integration. But I left out one important step that happens before any code even enters the CI pipeline. A step so important, so fundamental, so obvious that you don’t realise it is there until it is missing.
You must be able to build and test your software locally, on your developer machine. And by “test” I don’t just mean unit test level, but acceptance tests as well.
I said it was obvious. But once in a while I do stumble across a project where this rule has been missed, and it leads to a world of unnecessary pain and discomfort for the team. So what happens when you cannot easily build and test anywhere apart from the pipeline?
Without being able to run tests locally, the development team is effectively coding blind. They cannot know whether the code they are writing is correct. Depending on where the dysfunction is - compile, unit test or acceptance test stage - the code checked in may or may not break the pip…

Twitter

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I don’t know if anyone’s noticed, but I’m not very active on Twitter any more.
No, it’s not the annoying “While you were away” pseudo-window that is keeping me away.
Nor is it the Facebook-esque ‘heart’ button (WTF?).
Nor is it the endless supply of advertising bots and idiots that seem to frequent the service (I have most of them filtered out)  
It’s not even the regular misaddressed tweets meant for the Thirsty Bear Brewing Co in San Fransisco (fine fellows, and purveyors of fine beery comestibles that they are!)
Nope. None of the above. It’s the distraction.
On 5th November 2008, at 0525 (allegedly - I suspect there’s some sort of timezone shenanigans going on there…those who know me realise I am not a morning person) I wrote my first Tweet: "Trying out this Twitter thing….”)
Since that date I’ve got involved in all kinds of interesting discussions, mostly around software development, and often with the Great and the Good of the agile community - for which I am extremely grat…