Saturday, June 11, 2011

How I improved my company's build system - build automation

Last 2 weeks I haven't check twitter, did not go to infoQ, all my spare time is focused on one thing: improve the build system, the goal - one button click triggered the build and deploy automation.
This goal is finally achieved last week. Now the build system is scheduled deployment once a day, the automation jobs include following:
  1. check out source code from CVS;
  2. build client and server artifacts;
  3. generate the change log
  4. update the wiki and download page
  5. upload the artifact into server and downloading repository
  6. execute the server deploy script
  7. send new release email 
Before only step 1) and 2) are automatic using the ANT script. All other steps are manual, I found this kind of job is boring,painful and quit easy to make mistakes.

I have the idea for build automation for a long time, especially I was inspired by the book "Continuous Delivery" and "Pragmatic Project automation".  My plan to implement the build automation is pretty simple: simulate the human deployment behaviour, implement an ANT target for each manual step. It sound easy, but when I actually did it, it was harder than imagined. But I finally I made it.
Right now everyday we will automatically release a new build, this is a milestone and a great improvement. I feel so happy and so proud of it.

The tools I used
- ANT,  I used scp, filterset, filterchain, sshexec, cvschangelog, I found Ant has lots of gem.
- Groovy, I used AntBuilder to integrate with the existing ANT task, parsing XML, generating text file, quite neat.
- Jenkins,  everyone recommend Hudson/Jenkins CI server, when I used it, it is so easy to use, and has lots of useful plugins. I use Jenkins to schedule and trigger the build.
- ViewVC, a very good tool to browse CVS source code from web, I configure the ViewVC in Jenkins, Jenkins will provide the actually source code link in the changes page.

What I learned
  • Pay more attention to your feeling. If you feel boring and painful, don't just complain, try to find a way to improve it. This is a good chance to improve your self, my previous blog describe this.
  • A good developer must be able to delegate the dirty jobs to the computers, it would be shame for a good developer to do the repetitive manual jobs over and over.
  • I implemented the automatic build script based on the manual process, so I learned: if you can define a repeatable step by step manual process, then you can automate it by program.
  • I finished this job usually in down time, I finished one small piece each time, so the improvement for the legacy system has to be emergent.
Next Actions
This is only the first step, there are way more things needs to be done, my next steps will be:
- Add Unit Test and Regression test automation
- Add the code quality analysis report
- Use Ivy for dependency management
- Use Puppet to manage the configuration

No comments:

Post a Comment