Continuous integration and buildserver

September 3, 2008 by
Filed under: Configuration Management, Management, Ubuntu 

So, I finally got around to trying out continuous integration and got a buildserver at home. Ok, not much use on any 1-man projects, but should be good enough for some testing at least. I’m currently using cruisecontrol for it, and so far so good. I’ve got a few points I sincerely react against, but I’ll get back to that a bit later.

For those not knowing what continuous integration is, I suggest reading the above link. Basically, when you run a project, you always run into some “final” integration problems. People have coded each on their own side, and you wind up having to “integrating” the code so that it all works as supposed. In the one extreme, you have everyone coding on their own tree from start to end, and then you finally have an integration session. In this shitty situation, you have no clue how long it will take. On the other extreme, you have “perfect” continuous integration, where every single line of code is tested and checked that it doesnt screw things up.

A buildserver such as cruisecontrol is an excellent tool for doing “good” continuous integration. What it does is as follows, it connects to your central code repository, checks for any changes. If there was changes, it downloads them, and then rebuilds the project(s). If you have done it properly, you also have a ton of tests that you can run on the project. This is then reported or output in several different ways. Did it fail, did it succeed, and so forth.

I might be able to convince my new project manager to use a cruisecontrol server for the project I am working on at the moment, and he sounds like he likes the idea. We just need to consider everything for this project, and I need to figure out just how it works and how to configure it etc etc etc =) . Either way, I think it will be interesting to find out more about this type of development, and to see if it actually changes the development in any large way.

Oh, yes, I currently got two things I need to figure out with cruisecontrol. If I got it right, it doesn’t support GNU Make. Not supporting make seems… well, to be honest, totally stupid. It’s been one of the biggest make systems for 20 years or more, so there’s bound to be like 500000+ projects out there already running Make. I know it’s an old system, but it works, and it’s there already.

The second thing, I’m not totally certain of this, but subversion support seems to be abysmal. I need to look more at it however to find out the lay of the land or something.

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