Welcome!

Web 2.0 Authors: AppDynamics Blog, Noel Wurst, David H Deans, Aria Blog, Gilad Parann-Nissany

Related Topics: Adobe Flex, Java, AJAX & REA

Adobe Flex: Article

Agile Chronicles #3: Branch Workflow

Pre-schedule a time where the team knows their code will be merged with everyone else’s code

This entry is about utilizing branches for each developer in Subversion, Merge Day, and how while cool, it’s an ivory tower process.

Note: This isn’t a tenet of the Agile methodology itself, it’s just something that works well when you have a bunch of developers collaborating together rapidly, and a specific workflow our client requested we follow.

Branch Workflow

We’re utilizing a Branch Workflow on my current project.  What this means is that each developer creates their own branch in Subversion.  If you’re utilizing Tortoise SVN on PC or Versions on Mac, this is effectively a folder.  As you may know, Subversion has 3 default folders that you typically utilize in a repository, and hopefully each project gets its own repository.  These are branches, tags, and trunk.

Some people choose to ignore these.  Some put multiple projects into the same repo.  Both are fine because the mere fact people are utilizing source control in the first place, even if its just for disaster recovery, is great.

These folders, however, really do have a few reasons for their existence that have been well thought out.  Each source control system tries to out-do the next.  In Subversions case, the simple definitions are trunk is for the current version of your project, tags are for multiple older versions of your project, and branches are for experimental features or code that will possibly be merged back into trunk later.

Those are EXTREMELY simple definitions.  If you read the SVN book as well as other people who incorporate SVN into their workflow, the definitions and purposes can get quite complex.  For the project I’m currently on, branches take on a new meaning.  Not only are they where experimental code goes, but they each represent a user story.  Meaning, if I’m working on completing the user story where the user can modify their hardware device settings via a Flex form, that’ll go in it’s own branch.  Using source control to do this is pretty straight forward.  Instead of checking in here:

https://svn.server.com/repos/project/trunk/

You instead check-in here:

https://svn.server.com/repos/project/branches/sprint2/deviceform/

And the other developer with me would be working from:

https://svn.server.com/repos/project/branches/sprint2/registration/

Pretty easy right?  It gets even easier to check in.  No more, “Dude, have you checked your shiz in?” to another developer, or the cardinal rule of doing an update before checking in.  Now you can check in to your hearts content knowing it’s your own repo to abuse how you wish.

This has the side benefit of NOT breaking trunk… usually.  Again, the point of having frozen code you KNOW for a fact works is to use a tag, or a series of tagged builds.  A lot of developers get seriously bent out of shape if you break the trunk.  At one job, whoever broke the trunk had to use this monkey icon for their IM icon for one week.  It was funny until the 50th person asked why I had a silly monkey icon, and by that point, I was swearing I’d never break ANY trunk ever again.  This can possibly have the effect of keeping ‘em happy.  At the very least, this reduces the possibility of it happening because no one is working from trunk.

Instead, you check into trunk at the end of every sprint, or for my team, from Merge Day onwards.

Merge Day

Part of Agile is to have a day a few days before your UAT where everyone merges their working user stories into the same code base and “works out the kinks”.  Since everyone was coding in a different direction, this can be good and bad.  Good because they are working on completely unrelated things, but in GUI coding, we all know some things are extremely related.  Specifically, these are your data model in the form of ValueObjects, calls to a framework such as the use of Event classes in Cairngorm and PureMVC Mediators, and modifying settings in higher level view’s or CSS.

Since this can potentially have major consequences for some portions of a user story, or set of stories, it’s important to devote a pre-scheduled time where the team knows their code will be merged with everyone else’s code.  This is called Merge Day on my project and it happens every other Wednesday.  I take my branch and my co-workers, and merge his code into mine.  Then, I fix things that explode.  This could be as simple as just merging code over, or a complex verbal discussion to work towards resolving 2 different implementations.  No code is trivial.  If another developer added a style to MXML for example, setting the background color may seem small to you, but could be the difference between working or non-working code for the other developer’s code, so its important you do these merges together.

Once that is done, I merge into trunk, test again, fix explosions, and finally check in the working build.  I then upload a new build, or in the case of my current project, deploy a new build in a new sandbox utilizing Django’s web interface.  It can deploy to the web the latest bin-release that’s checked into SVN by merely clicking a button.  I’ll send an email to all members of the team identifying what’s new in the build.  This includes user stories, fixed bugs, and other things of note that are different from previous builds.

For fellow developers, this is a courtesy.  For Project Managers, it’s a necessity for them to set client expectations for Friday’s UAT.  For everyone it’s a Sprint milestone as well as reality check.  You can identify what user stories are done, which ones aren’t, what older ones you may have broken, and which current ones have issues.  You can then plan with your team what to spend the next day and a half on.  This is also where the rules can potentially break down.  What I’ll usually do is check my local copy into a new branch, and either fix partially completed or broken user stories, or just finish what I can.  The temptation here is to abandon branches since you only have a day and a half and it isn’t worth the trouble; just don’t break trunk in the meantime.

…riiiight.  The last thing you want to have happen the day before UAT is get all stressed out because trunk is broken.  To me, it’s worth the extra time in using the process to ensure your UAT prep goes smoothly.  I’m conservative.

I say that all high and mighty like, but on Sprint #2, I did just that.  Did I get lucky or was it just mad skillz?  Luck.

Conclusions

Now, all of the above processes could have been done with just utilizing trunk.  As you can hopefully see utilizing a branch for each developer, or multiple since creating a new folder is really easy, helps things go a lot smoother without surprises.  You can also plan for the chaos on Merge Day, which while extremely stressful for whoever is doing the merging, is at least expected and a concerted team effort.  I really have enjoyed the Branch Workflow so far.

…however, I don’t see it catching on.  Every Flash & Flex developer I’ve ever talked to doesn’t use branches.  Sam Robbins mentioned over Twitter they might start adopting this workflow at their place of work, and that’s great, but again, it seems to me most developers feel trunk is good enough and branches are just an unnecessary complication.

Stay tuned for #4 in the Agile Chronicles series where I talk about the POC (Proof of Concept), business strategy, and design challenges.

More Stories By Jesse Randall Warden

Jesse R. Warden, a member of the Editorial Board of Web Developer's & Designer's Journal, is a Flex, Flash and Flash Lite consultant for Universal Mind. A professional multimedia developer, he maintains a Website at jessewarden.com where he writes about technical topics that relate to Flash and Flex.

Comments (0)

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.


@ThingsExpo Stories
The Internet of Things is not new. Historically, smart businesses have used its basic concept of leveraging data to drive better decision making and have capitalized on those insights to realize additional revenue opportunities. So, what has changed to make the Internet of Things one of the hottest topics in tech? In his session at @ThingsExpo, Chris Gray, Director, Embedded and Internet of Things, discussed the underlying factors that are driving the economics of intelligent systems. Discover how hardware commoditization, the ubiquitous nature of connectivity, and the emergence of Big Data a...
"BSQUARE is in the business of selling software solutions for smart connected devices. It's obvious that IoT has moved from being a technology to being a fundamental part of business, and in the last 18 months people have said let's figure out how to do it and let's put some focus on it, " explained Dave Wagstaff, VP & Chief Architect, at BSQUARE Corporation, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held Nov 4-6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
The major cloud platforms defy a simple, side-by-side analysis. Each of the major IaaS public-cloud platforms offers their own unique strengths and functionality. Options for on-site private cloud are diverse as well, and must be designed and deployed while taking existing legacy architecture and infrastructure into account. Then the reality is that most enterprises are embarking on a hybrid cloud strategy and programs. In this Power Panel at 15th Cloud Expo (http://www.CloudComputingExpo.com), moderated by Ashar Baig, Research Director, Cloud, at Gigaom Research, Nate Gordon, Director of T...
SYS-CON Events announced today that IDenticard will exhibit at SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. IDenticard™ is the security division of Brady Corp (NYSE: BRC), a $1.5 billion manufacturer of identification products. We have small-company values with the strength and stability of a major corporation. IDenticard offers local sales, support and service to our customers across the United States and Canada. Our partner network encompasses some 300 of the world's leading systems integrators and security s...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Windstream, a leading provider of advanced network and cloud communications, has been named “Silver Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 9–11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York, NY. Windstream (Nasdaq: WIN), a FORTUNE 500 and S&P 500 company, is a leading provider of advanced network communications, including cloud computing and managed services, to businesses nationwide. The company also offers broadband, phone and digital TV services to consumers primarily in rural areas.

ARMONK, N.Y., Nov. 20, 2014 /PRNewswire/ --  IBM (NYSE: IBM) today announced that it is bringing a greater level of control, security and flexibility to cloud-based application development and delivery with a single-tenant version of Bluemix, IBM's platform-as-a-service. The new platform enables developers to build ap...

The BPM world is going through some evolution or changes where traditional business process management solutions really have nowhere to go in terms of development of the road map. In this demo at 15th Cloud Expo, Kyle Hansen, Director of Professional Services at AgilePoint, shows AgilePoint’s unique approach to dealing with this market circumstance by developing a rapid application composition or development framework.
“In the past year we've seen a lot of stabilization of WebRTC. You can now use it in production with a far greater degree of certainty. A lot of the real developments in the past year have been in things like the data channel, which will enable a whole new type of application," explained Peter Dunkley, Technical Director at Acision, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held Nov 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
DevOps Summit 2015 New York, co-located with the 16th International Cloud Expo - to be held June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY - announces that it is now accepting Keynote Proposals. The widespread success of cloud computing is driving the DevOps revolution in enterprise IT. Now as never before, development teams must communicate and collaborate in a dynamic, 24/7/365 environment. There is no time to wait for long development cycles that produce software that is obsolete at launch. DevOps may be disruptive, but it is essential.
"People are a lot more knowledgeable about APIs now. There are two types of people who work with APIs - IT people who want to use APIs for something internal and the product managers who want to do something outside APIs for people to connect to them," explained Roberto Medrano, Executive Vice President at SOA Software, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at Cloud Expo, held Nov 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Nigeria has the largest economy in Africa, at more than US$500 billion, and ranks 23rd in the world. A recent re-evaluation of Nigeria's true economic size doubled the previous estimate, and brought it well ahead of South Africa, which is a member (unlike Nigeria) of the G20 club for political as well as economic reasons. Nigeria's economy can be said to be quite diverse from one point of view, but heavily dependent on oil and gas at the same time. Oil and natural gas account for about 15% of Nigera's overall economy, but traditionally represent more than 90% of the country's exports and as...
The Internet of Things is a misnomer. That implies that everything is on the Internet, and that simply should not be - especially for things that are blurring the line between medical devices that stimulate like a pacemaker and quantified self-sensors like a pedometer or pulse tracker. The mesh of things that we manage must be segmented into zones of trust for sensing data, transmitting data, receiving command and control administrative changes, and peer-to-peer mesh messaging. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Ryan Bagnulo, Solution Architect / Software Engineer at SOA Software, focused on desi...
"At our booth we are showing how to provide trust in the Internet of Things. Trust is where everything starts to become secure and trustworthy. Now with the scaling of the Internet of Things it becomes an interesting question – I've heard numbers from 200 billion devices next year up to a trillion in the next 10 to 15 years," explained Johannes Lintzen, Vice President of Sales at Utimaco, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held Nov 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
"For over 25 years we have been working with a lot of enterprise customers and we have seen how companies create applications. And now that we have moved to cloud computing, mobile, social and the Internet of Things, we see that the market needs a new way of creating applications," stated Jesse Shiah, CEO, President and Co-Founder of AgilePoint Inc., in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 15th Cloud Expo, held Nov 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Gridstore™, the leader in hyper-converged infrastructure purpose-built to optimize Microsoft workloads, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Gridstore™ is the leader in hyper-converged infrastructure purpose-built for Microsoft workloads and designed to accelerate applications in virtualized environments. Gridstore’s hyper-converged infrastructure is the industry’s first all flash version of HyperConverged Appliances that include both compute and storag...
Today’s enterprise is being driven by disruptive competitive and human capital requirements to provide enterprise application access through not only desktops, but also mobile devices. To retrofit existing programs across all these devices using traditional programming methods is very costly and time consuming – often prohibitively so. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Jesse Shiah, CEO, President, and Co-Founder of AgilePoint Inc., discussed how you can create applications that run on all mobile devices as well as laptops and desktops using a visual drag-and-drop application – and eForms-buildi...
We certainly live in interesting technological times. And no more interesting than the current competing IoT standards for connectivity. Various standards bodies, approaches, and ecosystems are vying for mindshare and positioning for a competitive edge. It is clear that when the dust settles, we will have new protocols, evolved protocols, that will change the way we interact with devices and infrastructure. We will also have evolved web protocols, like HTTP/2, that will be changing the very core of our infrastructures. At the same time, we have old approaches made new again like micro-services...
Code Halos - aka "digital fingerprints" - are the key organizing principle to understand a) how dumb things become smart and b) how to monetize this dynamic. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Robert Brown, AVP, Center for the Future of Work at Cognizant Technology Solutions, outlined research, analysis and recommendations from his recently published book on this phenomena on the way leading edge organizations like GE and Disney are unlocking the Internet of Things opportunity and what steps your organization should be taking to position itself for the next platform of digital competition.
The 3rd International Internet of @ThingsExpo, co-located with the 16th International Cloud Expo - to be held June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY - announces that its Call for Papers is now open. The Internet of Things (IoT) is the biggest idea since the creation of the Worldwide Web more than 20 years ago.
As the Internet of Things unfolds, mobile and wearable devices are blurring the line between physical and digital, integrating ever more closely with our interests, our routines, our daily lives. Contextual computing and smart, sensor-equipped spaces bring the potential to walk through a world that recognizes us and responds accordingly. We become continuous transmitters and receivers of data. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Andrew Bolwell, Director of Innovation for HP's Printing and Personal Systems Group, discussed how key attributes of mobile technology – touch input, sensors, social, and ...