Category Archives: Project Management

Have your IT systems joined Social Media?

No, your servers should (probably) not have a facebook profile, nor should your servicebus have a twitter profile, but as the work tools change and evolve, you should probably consider updating the stream of status mails to more modern “social media” used at work.

When you’re in DevOps you probably get a steady stream of emails from various systems checking in. It may be alert emails, health checks or backup completed emails. It’s been more “fun” getting these mails with the rise of unlimited mail storage and powerful email-search tools should you ever need to find something in the endless stream of server-generated mails.

As we’ve adopted new tools, the automatic messaging from the servers has more or less stayed the same – until recently. We’ve been drinking the Kool-Aid with Slack, Jira and other fancy tools, and recently we considered moving the IT systems along… and so we did.

Slack has a very nice API and even with free tier, you can enable a “robot” (a robot.sh shell script that is) to emit messages on the various slack channels. We’ve integrated the slackbot into our various (automated)workflows in our Continuous integration / Continuous Deployment  pipeline, so that releases which move from environment to the next – and finally into production, emits a message to a #devops channel . We’ve also made a #operations channel, and when our monitoring registers “alert events”, it emits messages onto this channel. Using this setup anyone on the team can effectively and easily subscribe to push messages.

As a sanity measure and not to have “yet another mailbox”, we’ve tried to preach that everything on Slack should be considered ephemeral (that is short lived), and if anything worth remembering is said, it must be captured elsewhere.
releasetrain
As many other companies we use Jira to manage our software development. A task is tracked from idea to delivery and then closed and archived. As a Jira task is long-lived we’ve also integrated the same CI/CD pipeline into Jira. Once the release train starts rolling – a ticket in Jira is created (by the scripting tools through the Jira API) and updated as it pass through the environments – and closed automatically when the solution has been deployed to production.

The ticket created in Jira contains a changelog generated from pulling the contained commits from Git included in the pull request and if possible (assuming the commit comments are formatted correctly) linked to the Jira issues contained in the release (build from the pull request).

The jira tickets created by the release train is collected in a kanban board where each environment/stage have a separate column giving a quick overview of the complete state of releases (what is where right now).

A future move we’ve considered was if we should have blogging by servers. Assuming agile developers is able to create reasonable commit comments which may be readable (and comprehensible) by non-developers, it might me interesting utilizing a blogging tool such as wordpress to provide a historical log of releases.

As you adopt new tools for communication, remember to also think of automated communication, which may have a useful place in the new tools. Often new platforms have readily available APIs which allows your IT platforms to provide – or receive -information much more efficiently than pagers, email or whatever was available once you set it up in times gone by.

(This post originally appeared on Linked)

Why DevOps works…

I’m digging through a backlog of podcasts and the gem of the day goes to SE-Radio podcast. In episode #247 they talk about DevOps and while I’ve preached and practiced DevOps for years, as mainly as common sense, the podcast did present a more reasonable argument why it works.

Developers are praised and appreciated for short time to market; the number of new features they introduce and changes they make to the running system.

Operations are praised for stability and up time, and thus change is bad; many changes is really bad.

A DevOps fuse the two roles and responsibilities, the developers need to balance the business value new development may cause with the risks it introduce and balance what and when things are released into production.

If you’re into Software Engineering and DevOps curious give it a listen at SE-Radio #247.

(This post originally appeared on Linked)

Roaming todo-lists

I’ve been exploring todo lists for a while, but so far not found the ideal solution. I did however get a mighty step closer after Schack told me about a firefox plugin called Quickfox Notes.

Before introducing Quickfox notes, let me spend a second on my daily workflow in broad terms. I usually have Firefox running 8+ hours a day. Either browsing the web, doing web development or just by habit. I work on several machines – A few Linux laptops and an iMac at home. As I use several machines, I’ve been a huge fan of bookmark synchronization. I tried Mozilla Weave for a while, but their lack of PowerPC support (on an other Mac), eventually made me switch to FoxMarks – which is now called Xmarks. Xmarks has worked flawless since day one, and it’s one of the very first plugins I always install along with firefox on any machine I use.

Quickfox Notes is a way to store notes in the Bookmark-engine in firefox. It sounds odd, but it works really well. There aren’t any fancy formatting options – think notepad – but to keep a basic todo-list, code samples and other short texts, it works quite well. The killer feature of Quickfox is the combination with roaming (or syncing) bookmarks – If Quickfox Notes is installed along with Xmarks (, Weave or any other bookmark syncing dervice), it provides you with note-syncing too.

Better but Broken

Working with application development – either on the web, on the desktop or any other place – is often quite interesting. When making new releases features are added, changed – or in rare cases removed.

As a developer – or “software product manager” – it must be an interesting challenge to keep up with the users and the market to capture the features and changes to a product, which will make it better from release to release.

There are probably many ways to try to keep up – by doing research and by listening to user feedback seems to be two obvious choices, but I’m sure, there are many others. Some, I’m sure is also just a gut feeling of what might be cool new features. If you’re good – and now the users, the market and the competitors, you’re making steady progress.

Yet sometimes you miss. The slow adoption rate of Microsoft Vista might be a sign of a very public miss.

It doesn’t have to be a big miss, to chase a user away.

picture-1This weekend it happened to one of my favorite iPod Touch games – Tap Defense was upgraded to version 2.0 – and while most of the updates probably are great, there’s one little detail, which probably ensured I’ll rarely play it again (unless I find a way to fix it).

I used to play Tap Defense a lot while listening to Audiobooks and Podcasts. The new version has been updated with sound effects and music – and now the podcast or audiobook goes away (pauses) when the game is launched.

I’m sure TapJoy, developers of the Tap Defense game, are proud of their new sounds, but if I need to choose between the game and my listening to podcasts, the game looses. Please bring the ability to keep listening to what every the iPod plays, back in version 2.1.