Friday, August 17, 2012

Flurfunk

A bit over a year ago, me and my colleague Felix started working on a little experimental project during our 20% time. As far as I can remember, we wanted to do some Clojure, and we wanted to make something that looked like a company-internal Twitter.



We called it Flurfunk, which is the German word for "office talk" or something along those lines.

After a few days of development, we set it up on an internal server, and it was already quite useful, as it was a nice way to group-chat with the whole team. We are co-located, so we don't really IM so much, but it's still nice for pasting URLs and unix one-liners, etc.

We then proceeded to integrate it with our Jenkins build notification mails, and commit mails, so there's a nice timeline of what's going on. A bit like our team's heartbeat.

A nice bonus is that if either of us are doing home-office, it's a nice way to interact with what the rest of the team is doing.

We actually open-sourced it back in April, but Felix wanted to wait with broadcasting too much until he was done with the really cool channel feature. And a few days ago he also managed to work in a PostgreSQL HStore backend, as an alternative to the old FleetDB persistence.

Here's the official announcement on the company blog, and here is Felix' mention on his own blog.

I imagine if you're working in a team where you are sitting spread across different offices, and you don't have any virtual room where you are permanently hanging out, you should try it out.

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Monday, August 06, 2012

Gitblit: Stories from the Field

Continuing my little tribute to the Gitblit 1.0 release, I asked some old colleagues of mine, Leif and Trygve, about their experiences with using Gitblit in practice.

Q: How do you use Gitblit?  

Leif:
Webstep is a consultancy company, and we needed a Git repository for a specific client project that is being run in-house.

At the moment the Gitblit server hosts three different projects, but only one is in active development.

Trygve:
I was working as a consultant in a team that was currently using Subversion, but wanted to switch to Git. IT were working on an installation of Gitorious, but the project didn't have a very high priority.

As an intermediate solution I looked around for small, simple solutions for hosting a low number of repositories (around 10). As it was only our team that was going to use it, we didn't have any need for complicated security setups, just plain hosting. Having a web interface was a big plus as I wanted to show it was easy to create lots of small projects, instead of those big lumps we ended up with in Subversion. The team was also going to split their one big web app into two smaller apps.

We use Gitblit as a central Git server for our team. Later on other teams that wanted to try out Git started to use it as well.


Q: Any other products you were considering? Why did you pick Gitblit over them?

Leif:
Our server infrastructure is Microsoft based,  and we needed a solution that was easy to install and maintain.  

Keeping costs low is important to us and our clients, so a for-pay solution was really never in the picture.

Off-site hosting like Github, Bitbucket and Assembla is problematic for most client projects in a number of ways, so that was really not an option either.

I had a look at the managed server and local install option of Gitorious, but they were too expensive for our simple needs.

So I tried a "manual" install of a barebones Git server, but found it non-trivial on the Windows server.  Gitblit took care of that in a matter of minutes, and I haven't looked back ever since.  

Trygve:
- Gitorious (too complicated to set up)
- Just use an account at Github - not allowed by IT
- Custom scripts + gitweb - too much work, at least when Gitblit was so easy


Q: Anything you particularly like or dislike about Gitblit?

Leif:
I like the simplicity of it.  The webpage is nice and clean.  Functionality is sufficient for our needs.
At the moment we are just two developers rebasing off each other, so we do not need more advanced functionality like pull requests.  

When I first installed Gitblit Go, the windows service would die immediately after starting up. It turned out that one needs the 32-bit version, even if the server OS is 64 bit. Thats the only problem we've had so far.

Trygve:
Ease of use, definitely. Just click click and you're done. Sending links to diffs and stuff is also very useful. Having the dashboard to show an overview over what's happening is nice.

No dislikes in particular. I didn't try the advanced features, but as a small Git server, it's the shit.

I had to implement security integration with Crowd but that was easy enough. Took about 3-4 hours from start to end.



Q: Any final notes or comments about Gitblit you want to share?

Leif:
Gitblit has served us nicely so far, and I won't hesitate to recommend it if you need a no-fuss Windows-based Git server.


Big thanks to Trygve and Leif for doing the interviews!