Skip to main content

Fight For Your Infrastructure

The 97 Things Every Programmer Should Know book was recently released. Kevlin Henney has gathered together advice from a wide bunch of programmers, many of which are from the Norwegian developer scene, and a good few of which I consider old friends.

They are even arranging a release party in Oslo next Monday at XP-meetup. So far, over 250 people have RSVP'ed to attend the event.

Unfortunately, I didn't get my act together to write a submission for the book before after the deadline, but I submitted it anyhow, in case of any 2nd edition of the book.

Anyhow, out of sheer jealously of all the attention the accepted submissions are receiving now, I figured I'd post mine here:

Fight For Your Infrastructure

It is in your role as a programmer to demand proper infrastructure from your organization, simply because nobody else will. If the organization does not provide it for you, you must explain them what you require, and dedicate as much of your own time as necessary until an adequate support level is reached. This is a continuous effort; As new hardware, tools and frameworks appear every year, you must consider which of these can be of benefit for your team, and make sure installations proceed smoothly. Be it the introduction of solid-state-drives for your team, or moving to a new distributed source code management tool, you must push for these changes to happen.

Some would argue that this is a job for IT-administrators, but unfortunately, this is often not the case. Some organizations suffer from having an underskilled or understaffed IT department, and even for experienced technicians, it is difficult to keep up with the portfolio of developer tools available. Some organizations are budget-wise structured in such a way that the IT department is not rewarded for investing in programming infrastructure, and provide programmers with the same hard- and software constraints as any other office worker.

The appropriate suite of tools depend on the size, location and configuration of the team. Starting with the most elementary pieces of infrastructure, a proper monitor setup and a powerful desktop computer is obligatory for almost any programmer, as well as mouse and keyboard of good quality. It is particularly good if the programmer can choose brand and models by personal preference.

Infrastructure is not only about IT. Basic environment requirements should include proper ventilation, and a kitchen-station nearby with free tea, coffee and water. To assist the flow of communication between programmers, there should be rooms freely available equipped with whiteboards, flip-charts and projectors.

Moving further into the infrastructure, programmers should have a solid network connection, allowing them to quickly access needed resources online. The internal network between developers and servers should be lightning fast, making it easy to do remote operations, like deployment and following logs.

Regarding services that should be provided internally, most would put a source code management tool on top of the list. Organizations are inreasingly discovering the use of continuous integration, and this environment should be powerful enough to provide feedback in the matter of minutes after a change in the source code. Knowledge bases such as wiki, issue tracker and pastebin should be standard in any developer environment.

On personal software, there should be room and routines for purchasing commercial licenses, as well as books and documentation. The operating system and application platform for which the programmers are developing should be flexible and practical, allowing scripted builds and automatic deployment, minimizing the amount of tedious repeated routines programmers have to go through.

Finally, there should be a presence of IT personnel that can absorb the infrastructure maintenance from the programmers. At the end of the day, it is our job to develop software, so outsourcing upgrades and monitoring to support staff should be allowed.

This work is licensed under a [http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/us/ Creative Commons Attribution 3]

Comments

  1. This is a good point. Many developers assume that the state of the infrastructure is unchangeable.

    At my previous site, I discovered that forum.java.sun.com was blocked by the firewall. Initially, I got pretty angry and resigned. Then I sent an email to the firewall administrator. The response I got was illuminating:

    * The blocking was part of a preinstalled filter blocking forum.*
    * The firewall administrator opened access right away.
    * The firewall administrator got happy that he got direct feedback, and not the usual grumbling in the hallways.
    * He also remarked that people almost never request filter changes.

    Sometimes, a fight isn't necessary. Problems that you think may be due to difficult people, like the network admin, might just be the way they are because nobody pointed them out.

    BTW: Thomas: You're more than welcome on Monday if you wanna make the trip!

    ReplyDelete
  2. I'd love to come, Johannes, but it's a bit too much travel-hassle-money for me, I'm afraid :)

    Thanks for your comment! Good story.

    ReplyDelete

Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Open source CMS evaluations

I have now seen three more or less serious open source CMS reviews. First guy to hit the field was Matt Raible ( 1 2 3 4 ), ending up with Drupal , Joomla , Magnolia , OpenCms and MeshCMS being runner-ups. Then there is OpenAdvantage that tries out a handful ( Drupal , Exponent CMS , Lenya , Mambo , and Silva ), including Plone which they use for their own site (funny/annoying that the entire site has no RSS-feeds, nor is it possible to comment on the articles), following Matt's approach by exluding many CMS that seem not to fit the criteria. It is somewhat strange that OpenAdvantage cuts away Magnolia because it "Requires J2EE server; difficult to install and configure; more of a framework than CMS", and proceed to include Apache Lenya in the full evaluation. Magnolia does not require a J2EE server. It runs on Tomcat just like Lenya does (maybe it's an idea to bundle Magnolia with Jetty to make it seem more lightweight). I'm still sure that OpenAdvant

Git Stash Blooper (Could not restore untracked files from stash)

The other day I accidentally did a git stash -a , which means it stashes *everything*, including ignored output files (target, build, classes, etc). Ooooops.. What I meant to do was git stash -u , meaning stash modifications plus untracked new files. Anyhows, I ended up with a big fat stash I couldn't get back out. Each time I tried, I got something like this: .../target/temp/dozer.jar already exists, no checkout .../target/temp/core.jar already exists, no checkout .../target/temp/joda-time.jar already exists, no checkout .../target/foo.war already exists, no checkout Could not restore untracked files from stash No matter how I tried checking out different revisions (like the one where I actually made the stash), or using --force, I got the same error. Now these were one of those "keep cool for a second, there's a git way to fix this"situation. I figured: A stash is basically a commit. If we look at my recent commits using   git log --graph --

Leaving eyeo

Thirteen blog posts later, this one notes my departure from eyeo after 4 years and 3 months. I joined eyeo around the headcount of 80 employees, and now I think there's just over 250 people there. My role coming in was as operations manager, doing a mix of infrastructure engineering and technical project management. I later on took on organizational development to help the company deal with its growing pains . We introduced cross-functional teams, departments (kind of like guilds), new leadership structures, goal-setting frameworks, onboarding processes and career frameworks.  And all of this in a rapidly growing distributed company. I'm proud and happy that for a long time I knew every employee by name and got to meet every single new-hire through training them on company structure and processes.  At some point, we had enough experienced leaders and organizational developers that I could zoom back in on working in one team, consulting them on  Git and continuous integration

Managing dot-files with vcsh and myrepos

Say I want to get my dot-files out on a new computer. Here's what I do: # install vcsh & myrepos via apt/brew/etc vcsh clone https://github.com/tfnico/config-mr.git mr mr update Done! All dot-files are ready to use and in place. No deploy command, no linking up symlinks to the files . No checking/out in my entire home directory as a Git repository. Yet, all my dot-files are neatly kept in fine-grained repositories, and any changes I make are immediately ready to be committed: config-atom.git     -> ~/.atom/* config-mr.git     -> ~/.mrconfig     -> ~/.config/mr/* config-tmuxinator.git       -> ~/.tmuxinator/* config-vim.git     -> ~/.vimrc     -> ~/.vim/* config-bin.git        -> ~/bin/* config-git.git               -> ~/.gitconfig config-tmux.git       -> ~/.tmux.conf     config-zsh.git     -> ~/.zshrc How can this be? The key here is to use vcsh to keep track of your dot-files, and its partner myrepos/mr for o

Considerations for JavaScript in Modern (2013) Java/Maven Projects

Disclaimer: I'm a Java developer, not a JavaScript developer. This is just what I've picked up the last years plus a little research the last days. It's just a snapshot of my current knowledge and opinions on the day of writing, apt to change over the next weeks/months. We've gone all modern in our web applications, doing MVC on the client side with AngularJS or Ember , building single-page webapps with REST backends. But how are we managing the growing amount of JavaScript in our application? Yeoman 's logo (not necessarily the conclusion of this blog post) You ain't in Kansas anymore So far we've just been doing half-random stuff. We download some version of a library and throw it into our src/main/webapp/js/lib , or we use it from a CDN , which may be down or unreachable when we want to use the application.. Some times the JS is minified, other times it's not. Some times we name the file with version number, other times without. Some