The Importance of Software Builds: Building Earnestly

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Reproducible Builds
A good build process is reproducible. In 1999 Brad, Steve, and Ralph Carbrera documented some of the patterns that allow for a reproducible build [BuildPatterns]. In this article we’ll try to justify this statement. In future articles we’ll say more about how to attain that goal.

The build (and tests) determine the health of the project. And the frequency that you execute the build/test cycle determine the rate of change. Also, manual processes, no matter how well documented (and they are never documented well enough!) are not as repeatable as automated processes. This is mostly human nature; Supporting activities are often neglected in favor of more pressing concerns.

What we need is a repeatable process that allows developers to build and deploy applications in the test environment. We can make the process configurable to address local system issues, but the process should be as much like the Integration build as possible so that we can identify problems before they appear in the QA environment, and also so that a developer can reproduce problems that happen to slip through.

The key to effective build lies in the relationship between these patterns:

    • Private Workspace (A Workspace-side pattern)
    • Repository (A Codeline pattern)
    • Private System Build (A Workspace pattern)
    • Integration Build (A Workspace Pattern)
    • Third Party Codeline

We’ll discuss these patterns in more detail shortly. First, let’s examine the roles that they play in enabling an agile software team. 

To build a Private Workspace you need to:

  • Get the source code from the application. This should be a simple process and the Repository pattern describes how to do this. Since some of the components of the application are from external sources, the Repository used the Third Party Codeline pattern.
  • Build the application. There are two kinds of builds that matter:
    • The Private System Build, which you will use to build in the workspace
    • The Integration Build, which happens in an Integration Workspace. This build provides a definitive state of the codeline, since a Private System Build may not have integrated everything that is current

Once you build the application you will want to be able to execute the application and any tests. This may include a deploy step.

About the author

Steve Berczuk's picture Steve Berczuk

Steve Berczuk is a Principal Engineer and Scrum Master at Fitbit. The author of Software Configuration Management Patterns: Effective Teamwork, Practical Integration, he is a recognized expert in software configuration management and agile software development. Steve is passionate about helping teams work effectively to produce quality software. He has an M.S. in operations research from Stanford University and an S.B. in Electrical Engineering from MIT, and is a certified, practicing ScrumMaster. Contact Steve at steve@berczuk.com or visit berczuk.com and follow his blog at blog.berczuk.com.

About the author

Brad Appleton's picture Brad Appleton

Brad Appleton is a software CM/ALM solution architect and lean/agile development champion at a large telecommunications company. Currently he helps projects and teams adopt and apply lean/agile development and CM/ALM practices and tools. He is coauthor of the book Software Configuration Management Patterns, a columnist for the CMCrossroads and AgileConnection communities at Techwell.com,  and a former section editor for The C++ Report. You can read Brad's blog at blog.bradapp.net.

About the author

Robert Cowham's picture Robert Cowham

Robert Cowham has long been interested in software configuration management while retaining the attitude of a generalist with experience and skills in many aspects of software development. A regular presenter at conferences, he authored the Agile SCM column within the CM Journal together with Brad Appleton and Steve Berczuk. His day job is as Services Director for Square Mile Systems whose main focus is on skills and techniques for infrastructure configuration management and DCIM (Data Center Infrastructure Management) - applying configuration management principles to hardware documentation and implementation as well as mapping ITIL services to the underlying layers.

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