Lava Lamp with CruiseControl

As we are getting Phoenix project under way, I am trying to get it started right by introducing more XP practices. The first three things that we are trying to do are Paired-Programming, Test-Driven Development, Continuous Integration.  This blog, is about Continuous Integration.

Actually, Guidewire has already built an internal tool, ToolsHarness, to handle continuous integration, as I have written in “Managing Tests with ToolsHarness, Individually“. The only difference that I want to introduce for Phoenix project is to fix broken tests AS SOON AS POSSIBLE.

What this means is that I want the testing status of our branch to show right in out faces, without us having to launch a browser, so that we know to take action the moment a test is broken.

I talked to the developer who manages ToolsHarness, and he wrote a servlet that serves information about broken tests and test status like this picture, except in one HTTP GET. Then I set up CruiseControl(version 2.8.2) with X10 publisher, following the setup described on this blog post “Bubble, Bubble, Build’s In Trouble“.

One thing about the normal lava lamp setup has always bugged me in the past, which is when the continuous integration server is in the “testing” state. When you have test broken, the red lava lamp will be on, and you just have to remind yourself that the fix is in and test is running. In some projects, I have used “project soundscape“, so that when tests finishe but are still broken, you will know about it. But if you happen to step outside, you will miss it. Or if you just came in, you have to check the browser or ask others.

So this time, I have done it a little differently, taking advantage of the fact that CruiseControl is not the process running the tests. I bought two lava lamp, one kind of in the red color and the other in blue. I set it up so that when there are two independent lava lamps:

  • Red Lava Lamp for broken tests: When there are broken tests, it will be on, otherwise, it will be off
  • Blue Lava Lamp for testing status: When there are tests running, it will be on, otherwise it will be off

In this way, you have four state to display:

  • Neither is on: All tests pass and the tests are up-to-date
  • Blue is on and red is off: All tests pass so far, but there are tests running against newer changes
  • Blue is off and red is on (see below): You have broken tests, and no code checked in to fix it
  • Both blue and red are on (see below): You have broken tests and someone has cheked in new code (hopefully to fix it)


The setup is pretty straightforward, except CruiseControl 2.8.2 release is missing two crucial files, “lib/win32com.dll” and “lib/javax.comm.properties”, for X10 publisher to work. That, and me missing a tiny but also crucial detail in the documentation, caused my three-hour-hair-pulling experience, and that was with Jeffrey coming to rescue through GTalk. I am going to submit the patch for the release script to include those two files, and documentation with the following checklist:

  • You should provide all FOUR attributes related to X10 for the element, so that you are aware of them and make sure they are correct. These four attributes are as following:
    • “houseCode” and “deviceCode” are for X10 module configuration.
    • “port”, with the value of COM1, COM2, etc., to match the place you plugin the COM module.
    • The last one is “interfaceModel”, which you should really double check with the COM module that you have.
  • Make sure “javax.comm.properties” is in your CruiseControl lib directory (should be there after 2.8.3)
  • Make sure you copy “win32com.dll” from CruiseControl lib directory (should be there after 2.8.3) to your Java bin directory

In the end, I would like to say that I am a satisfied ci-guys customer!


Pair-programming

Pair-programming is not a common practice at Guidewire right now.  I hope one day more people at Guidewire can agree with this post.

http://www.nomachetejuggling.com/2009/02/21/i-love-pair-programming/

Right now, we are trying it out at Phoenix project.


JIRA Story Wall

With the “shared dashboard” feature of JIRA, we have been experimenting a shared dashboard that can be served as a virtual story wall that can be useful to us. And here is one version.

AF stories are in the form of JIRA items, in this way, JIRAs created by other teams for bug fixese or support can be rolled into one backlog. Creating stories in the form of JIRA is not nearly as trivial and easy as creating stories on the index cards. But once you pass that phase and get yourself used to it, it does bring a lot of benefits of a digital media.

(Note, I had to take the image down because of its detailed information about the development status on items.)

On the left, the first section shows the stories for the current Sprint with status and the person who is working on them. Each person is to finish the JIRAs assigned to him or her, before picking the ones assigned to the general bucket (AF General).

The section section shows the stories allocated for the next Sprint, grouped by assignees and components. The third section shows the full current backlog by component and priority. We used it a lot when trying to figure out what to work on next or what to push to next release. The last one is the backlog for the next milestone.

During the Sprint, some issues will come up. The most urgent ones will be pulled into the current Sprint to be dealt with right away. The others will either be added to the next Sprint, or add to the appropriate backlog. At the beginning of the Sprint, after counting the JIRAs already added to the Sprint, carrying over the ones from the past Sprint, we will select more JIRAs from the backlog by looking through the components.

On the right, the first section is the list of the JIRAs that the current user is working on (In Progress). It has been pretty useful to me to come in and get started right away by looking at this short list. However, I just learned today that everybody else is just looking at the JIRAs assigned to him or her in the current Sprint.

The JIRAs in the next list are the ones that have been marked as resolved by developers but not verified by QA. They are sorted based on the order that QAs would like to process them. QA team uses this to pick the JIRAs to verify during the Sprint.

The last section on the right contains the JIRAs that have not been added to any backlog. In this way, all the JIRAs will be looked at before adding to the backlog. One thing about using JIRA as story is that anyone can create a JIRA and assign it to your team, which mean your backlog can grow without you knowing it. With this extra step of adding newly created JIRA to the appropriate backlog, we are always aware of any new work coming our way.


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