Archive for May, 2007
Since I have previously stated my admiration for UnitTest++ as a unit testing framework for C++, I guess it was high time I added direct support for it in Pulse. Well, as of Pulse 1.2.24, there is now a UnitTest++ post-processor that will slurp your UnitTest++ test results directly into Pulse. If you’re looking to do continuous integration for C++, then Pulse + UnitTest++ is a killer combo .
Paul Duvall’s post The Future of Continuous Integration points out a weakness in how continuous integration is typically implemented: code must be checked in before it is tested by the continuous integration server. Although problems are picked up fast, there is still a time window where developers may be affected by broken code. This is exactly why we added personal builds to Pulse in version 1.2. Personal builds allow individual developers to submit their changes to Pulse for testing before committing to version control. Pulse does a build and test of the latest version with the developer’s changes applied, allowing to developer to check the full impact of their changes prior to affecting the shared code base. Apart from closing the time window, personal builds also allow other powerful usage patterns, such as using the distributed building features of Pulse to test across multiple platforms before checking in.
Paul also touches on a couple of different solutions to the weakness. Naturally, before implementing personal builds as we did, we considered a few options. One option that Paul mentions that we had considered was leveraging the branching functionality of the SCM. Developers (perhaps with the assistance of the CI server) could check their code into private or temporary branches for testing, and the changes could then be merged down to the shared branch if the build passed. The main attraction of this method is that it reuses functionality available already in the SCM. However, we decided not to go down this route as it can have an impact on the way developers need to work and/or the structure and history in the SCM. Our method of taking a patch from the developer’s working copy and applying it directly with Pulse is about as unobtrusive as you can get. This is important for us, as the ability to adapt to existing environments has always been a key design goal for Pulse.
For more about these and related issues, you might want to also check out an article I posted a while ago to zutubi.com. Reducing the Impact of Broken Builds talks about the affects of a broken code base and how best to avoid or alleviate them.
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