Private Developer Workspaces: Where the Development Process Meets SCM Process


Another common argument is that it's just too hard to set up multiple databases. Like any other aspects of your application, you should be able to create a database in a reproducible manner. If it is costly in terms of time and resources to create a new database at a certain version, you need to fix your database deployment process. Having these private workspaces give you many opportunities to debug the database deployment process through practices.

I know a fair amount about database design, but I am by no means an expert, and I should let the experts have the last word for database changes. But I can do a fair amount to make the database developer's lives easier. For example, I can define test data sets that reproduce a problem in my private schema. If a new feature requires a minor table change, I can write the DDL to create new columns (or new tables). I certainly want the people with database expertise to review my work (that's how we can learn), but I don't need them to spend time on all of my dead-ends. A key aspect of agile approaches is that there is a team with common of goals, but while a certain amount of division of labor is inevitable, there are may valid reasons for the team to cross boundaries.

When your team has good Private workspace environments, you need to be sure that team members keep their workspaces in synch with the state of the codeline. The goal of Private Workspaces is to give team members small windows of time (and space) to work on tasks, not to isolate themselves for the long term.

Private Workspaces are a simple way to increase productivity. Setting up workspaces for your team may require a bit up-front work, but the increased rate of progress will more than compensate for the initial outlay of work. References & Further Reading

  • The Illusion of Control in Software Configuration Management
  • [SCM Patterns], Berczuk, S.P. and B. Appleton, Software Configuration Management Patterns: Effective Teamwork, Practical Integration. 2003, Boston, MA: Addison- Wesley.
  • [Flow] Csikszentmihalyi, M., Flow : The Psychology of Optimal Experience. 1st ed. 1990, New York: Harper & Row. xii, 303 p.

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 or visit and follow his blog at

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,  and a former section editor for The C++ Report. You can read Brad's blog at

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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