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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

Simplicity is important - here’s why

When it comes to web design, simplicity is not valued enough. Simplicity is important - but why? Simplicity reduces navigation confusion, makes the website look more sophisticated and can help in increasing site conversions (sign ups, contacts). All too often, web designers tend to miss the point of simplicity and over do the amount of information given on a single page - the need to get everything across at once can seriously hinder how much a website visitor is able take in. Over complicated pages can lead to higher than average bounce rates or lower on-page conversions. We thought we’d share with you some top tips to simplify your website.

  • Keep things along the 80-20 rule
    • Use the Pareto principle which is that 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes. This means taking away as much as you can from your design that will not lead to any type of conversion. Take things back to the bare essentials and make those work properly
  • Embrace few colors in your theme
    • Does a monochrome color scheme work for you? If not, try out as few colors as possible. Work towards a design that requires less effort for your website visitor to process. Fewer colors will also give your site a sleek, classic look
  • Keep copy short and sweet
    • Embrace compelling copy but keep things shorter and to the point. Make your point quickly and keep things easy-to-read by sticking to a few key points. Use shorter sentences, and keep paragraphs to a maximum of 3-4 sentences for easy reading.
  • Fix your navigation
    • Often many sites have over complicated and lengthy navigation options. Remember to include navigation to your list of things to simplify today. Keep important and key pages in your navigation bar. Remove excess clutter and keep all navigation menus visible. Other key things to keep in mind is the use of universal icons as well as ensuring a sitemap in your footer - these are all standard items that visitors look for.

How Much Does it Cost to Design a Site?

If you are in the market for a website or application, it can sometimes be daunting. Being unsure of where to start, which development firm to use or how much the whole process is going to cost you can be truly overwhelming. And then there are those horror stories of others, who selected a developer based solely on cost (the cheapest quote perhaps) and ended up majorly down the hole with their budgets, while owning a unfinished website. Whether you are in the market for a website application with a specific outline and goal, or have a rough idea of what you need your application to do, how do you go about finding the best selection for you? And then how do you know that whoever you select is going to deliver what you want and in the time frame that you need it? And then, not knowing how to code yourself, you can land up frustrated at not understanding the process - especially if your development team gives you the runaround. At CakeDC, we are committed to a transparent workflow - we've created our own git workflow (MIT license) and we've used it successfully with our clients for 3+ years and dozens of projects. We use it to accelerate growth and innovation providing the highest quality application development. What sets CakeDC apart from others is that our experts listen closely to your needs. Second, we formulate a roadmap of milestones based on your specifications. Third, we offer guidance while delivering the highest quality results in a fraction of other developer’s time, by doing things The Right Way™ So how much is it going to cost you? Well this is of course dependent on what you project scope includes, however, we will work with you in determining the best package to suit your requirements. You can check out all of our rates and packages here. Ready to get your project started? Reach out to our experts today to see how easy it can be to get your application up and running.

What your website users are trying to tell you

Every visitor to your website has a goal in mind - this may not be a conscious goal, but they are visiting your site for a reason. So listening to your users feedback is key to meeting their expectations! As a business owner, be sure to keep these in consideration and as a developer, be sure to pass these recommendations through to your clients. What are some things that users are trying to tell you and how do you find out? What and why is it Often people forget about the basics and fail to include what their product, service or business is. By excluding this vital information there will be users who will not know what the purpose of the page that they have stumbled upon is, but what to do next - and therefor bounce quickly off of your site. Where is your pricing information? If you are trying to sell something - a product or a service - be sure to include the price information as this is used by your visitor to determine their next action. Even if you are providing resources in return for their details, it is important to be clear. Where are those testimonials or reviews? Have others tried it People like to know that whatever they are investing money into is worth it - reviews or customer testimonials help to show your visitors what you can do. Be sure to add this information in a way that is easy for you visitors to find. Where can I sign up or contact you Another vital piece of information that many often forget is to let your visitors know how to signup and contact you. Perhaps you have chosen to hide your contact information due to spam bots or other issues faced, however, if you are in the business of recruiting clients, then be sure to have some form of contact information easily available to your visitors.
Not sure if you are missing anything? CakeDC, the experts behind CakePHP, offer a range of services including consulting, guiding you through the best practices with your CakePHP application.

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