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CakeDC Git Workflow - An Introduction

Its been almost a year now since we released, and then later open sourced, the CakeDC Git Workflow at CakeFest 2013 in San Francisco. Since then, we've had loads of feedback, and have also experienced ourselves how it's revolutionized the way we work on projects.

When we first set out to define the workflow we had some issues which we wanted to resolve. The main ones being broken staging servers due to unstable branches, an unorganized planning of QA on a build, repeated efforts when testing code which is constantly changing, and messy repositories with no clear organization.

Having these problems at hand, we wanted to accomplish a couple of goals:

  • Maintain a master branch which is reliable as a stable and versioned code base
  • Provide a staged code base that's stable and best represents the upcoming version
  • Allow new releases to be comprised of multiple milestones (or sprints)
  • Allow developers to create features from the code developed by others
  • Allow the next milestone to start while the QA process is still active on the previous
  • Allow QA to review code on an isolated branch without affecting the stage server
  • Isolate bug fixing on separate branches to avoid active development during QA
  • Provide a process which can be planned around and scheduled for QA and releases

So, we set out to define a process which would allow us to meet these goals, and help us deliver projects, without the pain of the managing that process itself.

Organize and coordinate

When working with a team of managers, developers and testers, it becomes very important to keep your sanity by organizing and coordinating efforts on projects. When these projects are large in size and scope, that can become a difficult task, especially if you don't have a clearly defined process at hand. And that doesn't just mean defining a series of steps to follow, but a process which sets the team's direction, and facilitates the desired results.

The CakeDC Git Workflow does just that, by setting out a clear path to follow, and key points in which members of the team are involved, from managers and developers, through to QA testers and client review. These break down as the following:

  • Development: After gathering requirements and planning out a milestone this is the first phase. During this time the code base is actively worked on, and can be considered unstable, in a bleeding edge state. Each ticket is developed on a feature branched from the develop branch. Peer review would take place on each feature branch before it reaches develop.
  • QA: Once the first phase of development is complete the QA process begins. This is performed on an isolated branch, so the next milestone could commence. The acceptance criteria defined from the requirements would be applied here. Any bugs found by the testers are fixed on an issue branched from the qa branch.
  • Review: Once testing has concluded and the code base is considered stable it's merged to the stage branch, and a milestone is tagged. The client or product manager would now review the results and provide feedback.
  • Release: Once the work completed in milestones constitutes a new version of the application the code from stage is merged to master, and a release is tagged.

Iterating through milestones

At the core of the workflow is the concept of milestone development. A milestone represents a deliverable, and is broken down into 3 phases: development, qa and staging. Each of these has a dedicated branch in the repository, which holds the work completed at each step of the process, and ensures that all work done on the project follows through these phases.

The milestone also helps organize the development team as well as the client (product owner), as the workflow keeps everyone in a cycle, which helps avoid feature creep and sets clear and coherent objectives and responsibilities at each point in the process.

Quality as the driving factor

At CakeDC our ultimate objective is to deliver the highest quality possible. This means that all members involved with a project need to provide the best possible to meet that common goal. We do it because we care about what we're building, and want the result to match our expectations as to what the "best" means in each case.

Our workflow keeps that philosophy in high regard, as its designed to protect the code base at all times from anything which doesn't meet the grade. Each phase acts as a barrier to avoid the master branch from being compromised.

Latest articles

Responsive Websites vs. Native Apps

Do you know what the difference is between responsive websites vs. native apps? With users more and more likely to be browsing your website on their mobiles, have you considered how they see and experience it across devices? A bad mobile experience may be likely to turn potential customers away, so it’s vital to ensuring that all touchpoints match your brand experience and draw customers in. But how do you go about that - what is the best solution for you - responsive website or a native app? Below we look at the differences between the two, however, the best solution for you will be highly dependent on your website and business/consumer needs, be sure to speak with your development team to get the best fit for you! Responsive vs native Responsive Web Design is the methodology that recommends the design and implementation of a website that responds to user behavior and environment based on the screen size, orientation and operating system of their device. While a native/mobile app, once the app has been downloaded, it’s stored directly on their device, so they will be able to access it in every context. Native apps can be used both online and offline. These two mobile solutions do not answer the same needs. In today’s world, all websites should be responsive to mobile devices, but not everyone needs a mobile app. Mobile or native app’s are expensive and time consuming to produce, they also can irritate users who do not see value in downloading them. However, should your product work well or need an app to work well in, you should investigate it. Generally the development time and cost of a native app can make this look like a poor option, however, if your product or need is one of the following, an app is definitely the way to go.

  • interactivity /Gaming is required: an App is the best choice if you require an immersive and interactive user experience.
  • Regular usage and personalization: Are you planning that your users use the app on a regular basis?
  • Complex calculations or reporting: Think banking or financial calculators.
  • Offline accessibility: Is your concept something that you want users to be able to use offline?
A key point to take into consideration when deciding what is the best fit for your business concept, is to keep your goals in  mind. If your goal is purely from a marketing and content distribution consideration, to ensure usability on mobile platforms, then a responsive website is what you need. However, if you are requiring a more immersive brand experience, a native app is required.

Importance of backing up data for small businesses - tips and tricks for you

Data is essential to any business - regardless of the size. And with the recent ransomware attacks, it is important to keep backups regularly. A loss of your business’s data, from a down server or a ransomware attack, can cost a company a lot of money. Types of backups You can either back up online to an out of network cloud server, to a physical storage location or to an offline drive. Either should have you secured from a network attack and will enable you to be up and running after-the-fact. Having a backup strategy cannot be stressed enough, here are some strategies that you could follow:

  1. Cloud backups - keeping data offsite is helpful should you experience a natural disaster.
  2. Encryption of data in transit.
  3. Multiple backups offsite - ensuring 2 or 3 backups are kept.
  4. Testing of backups - ensuring that all backups taken are viable for use should the need arise.
Regular backups can be a life saver - ransomware attacks, natural disasters, corrupt hardware can strike at any moment. Being prepared can save your business money in the long run. Some other tips that you can consider following include
  • Having a file organization standard. Develop a standard way of organizing your files so that you or your users will always know where data belongs.
  • Determine critical files or data. Organize and sort through the files to ensure critical data or files are kept secure and regularly backed-up.
  • Create a local backup solution.
  • Create an offsite backup.
  • Automate your backup procedures.
How do you get started? Its key to create a backup routine, which includes the following information
  • A checklist for the file or data that you need to backup;
  • A backup schedule for times that your backup system will run;
  • Verify the backup to ensure the data is intact.
Also remember, for your website and hosted applications, to check with your local hosting provider as they usually offer backups. For local development work, always use a repository for code and documents, like git, while for binaries, use cloud storage so all you lose, if your hard drive was to crash, is the work of the current day.

With the latest ransomware attack, here’s what you need to know

With the latest attack, Petya, fresh in our minds, we thought it would be a good time to discuss what exactly a ransomware attack is and how you, as a business, can protect yourselves from such. These cybersecurity attacks not only attack individuals and small to medium sized business, but also large multinational enterprises from around the world. What is clear is that the attack from the past week, Petya/GoldenEye while similar, is a lot more serious than the attack of the previous month - the WannaCry worm attack that struck hundreds of thousands of computers.   Have we gotten your attention? Good! The first real way to protect yourself, and your business, is to know what the attacks are and what they look like. And then to move onto how to set yourself up so that you are secured against such an attack. With the latest ransomware worm, the ransomware infects computers and locks down their hard drives. Then demanding $300 ransom in digital currency Bitcoin.
The email account associated with the ransomware will have been blocked, so even if victims pay, they won't get their files back. Many experts are calling for people to not pay the ransom. The virus or worm is spread by infecting multiple computers on a network, and is initially contracted via an outside source, commonly an email. Many companies were hit severely this time round, as they did not update their Microsoft packages, leaving them vulnerable to the attack.  Am I at risk you may be asking yourself? Well potentially. The great news is that if you have a Windows machine, and it is up to date with security updates, then you are fine. The bad news is that if you are on a network with a machine that is not up to date, then this will cause a problem for you should they get the virus. Top tips for keeping you and your network secure:

  1. Keep all servers and network connections up to date with the latest security updates;
  2. Be sure to backup your computer regularly and keeping a recent backup copy off-site.
  3. Brief all network users on what phishing emails look like, the importance of not on links;
  4. Make sure your antivirus software is up to date.

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