Spring cleaning 101: Dusting off DevOps pipelines

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As we gear up for the warmer summer months, spring cleaning season is upon us. While most people are busy clearing out their closets and dusting off furniture, now is also a great time for dev teams to re-evaluate their current organizational structure – with a special emphasis on their technologies and processes.

With more businesses adopting DevOps – and even more experiencing a need for faster development cycles – teams are struggling to transform their current stack to better support an accelerating pipeline.  

As the demand for faster delivery only increases, how can teams boost efficiency this year to ensure only the highest performance?

Tools of the trade: Know how to use the essentials.
Throughout the entire DevOps pipeline, there are a number of responsibilities.  From coding to testing, through to production and everything in between, all of these actions require a diverse toolset that seamlessly integrates within current processes.

There is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ solution that works for every dev team. However, there are four basic tools that everyone maintains in their current stack.

  1. The lab: At the heart of app development is the lab. The lab itself supports the entire continuous integration (CI) process, assuring quality and supporting all platforms across mobile, desktop, web, IoT and more. If the lab is unstable, so is the entire DevOps process. Make sure you have a reliable lab that meeting the requirements of all teams to increase velocity. I’d recommend a scalable cloud-based test environment.  
  2. Test frameworks: Today, there are a number of different test frameworks available. However, there are significant differences between each and how they are used. For example, a developer test framework needs differ from a test engineer’s requirements. Let’s explore the best test frameworks for each:
    1. Developers are mostly concerned with fast feedback for the code they wrote, and as such, frequently execute unit tests locally triggered from their integrated Development Environment (IDE). For this case, utilizing Espresso, XCUITest or headless browsers like Puppeteer, etc. is the best way to go.
    2. On the other side of the coin, test engineers focus on the end to end user experience. This requires frameworks that provide a wider examination of the full solution. In this instance, something like Appium or Protractor may make more sense.  
  3. Quality Visibility: Throughout the DevOps pipeline, teams are responsible for monitoring activity across CI jobs, builds, integrations and large-scale regression suites. Because of this, they’ll need tools that help them understand where everything stands at any given moment. That’s why a quality visibility is necessary to handle all incoming data to give developers, test engineers and the management team an indication of whether or not things are progressing correctly.
  4. Tooling APIs: Very few vendors today offer solutions that address every step throughout the development process. As a result, be sure to develop and constantly look for new APIs or integration points that make it easier to streamline the set of tools you already have, whether it’s with a tool like Android Studio, Jenkins or even Slack.

Improved processes: Ensure all code is created equal.
Throughout the DevOps pipeline, there are any given number of developers writing, editing and testing code at all times. As a result, many different pieces of the puzzle (code) are being created, but not sequentially, which can lead to confusion and bugs.

However, establishing these best practices and basic ground rules can be a simple way to clean your code up:

  1. Implement mandatory code reviews and analysis: Make sure code is well-maintained and that there are no memory leaks or poor practices currently in play.
  2. Continuously test your code: Continuous testing can help assure that separate pieces of code will work correctly once it merges into the entire product.
  3. Refactor test code that slows down velocity: Is your testing code blocking your CI workflow? If so, be sure to identify it early and continuously scan for any other blockages that could be slowing your organization down.
  4. Enable real-time decision making: Use dashboards with built-in analytics and data-driven decision-making tools to help your teams move faster.

Dusting off old and outdated tools and processes are a good first-step to spring cleaning your current development pipeline. Take a closer look at your ‘status quo,’ and freshen things up a bit, whether it’s by adopting a new test framework or throwing away code that doesn’t work. With a little bit of elbow grease, teams will be on their way to accelerating delivery and ensuring quality that improves their business’ bottom line.

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