Improving the release of software is about more than better programming. It’s about improving the systems and methodologies used to get to the release in the first place. No release will be perfect out the gate, but it is possible to consistently achieve stable releases.
Stable releases are achieved by adopting the following methodologies:
The Agile Admin defines DevOps as “the practice of operations and development engineers participating together in the entire service lifecycle, from design through the development process to production support.”
“Dev” refers to anyone involved in developing the process, not just the software developers. “Ops” refers to everyone from systems engineers and administrators to network engineers and security professionals.
The DevOps methodology creates faster collaboration, better integration, and smoother communication during the software development process. DevOps doesn’t differentiate between teams that create the software and teams that deal with it once it’s been created. That thinking has done more harm than good. DevOps seeks to foster close collaboration between customers, developers, product managers, and even QA to produce a better product.
DevOps places service delivery as a fundamental value proposition that requires placement as a top priority. While there isn’t any official list of DevOps principles, it’s founded on continuous delivery which also requires continuous testing.
- Continuous testing
Continuous testing is imperative for stable software releases. Development teams are often pressed to release a product to market before it’s ready. Testing takes up a significant amount of time, and it’s often put off until the end as a separate task. The result is software releases with major flaws that are unacceptable to the client and/or end user.
According to ContinuousTesting.com, “Continuous testing is fundamentally about transforming testing from being a time-boxed event in a linear process to embedding it as a fundamental and ongoing aspect of every activity through the software delivery cycle.” When done correctly, tests should be designed before the first line of code is written.
Rather than consider testing an inconvenient bottleneck for getting your product to market, work it into the development process from the start. Run all tests for every sprint, no matter how short it is, so that each release is tested.
According to QAsymphony.com, the Agile methodology is “rooted in adaptive planning, early delivery, and continuous improvement, all with an eye toward being able to respond to change quickly and easily.” The ability to adapt to change is the most attractive aspect of this methodology.
Although agile is a wonderful methodology, it needs to be used in combination with continuous testing. An unfortunate aspect of Agile is the added pressure to release software faster, which forces testing to occur less frequently.
The collaboration benefits of the Agile methodology are profound. It helps teams collaborate by adapting to what is needed for success. Frequent feedback and collaboration is encouraged so that changes can be made before big problems arise. Agile also automates tests to increase efficiency. However, testing is seen as a component of the process to be performed at the end of certain cycles. If you’re going to use Agile, be sure to incorporate continuous testing to achieve stable releases.
Scrum is a project management methodology that encourages delivering new software releases every 2-4 weeks. It’s the most popular Agile methodology in the software development world.
Scrum lays a foundational structure for daily interactions and tasks for software development teams. It places a priority on making information transparent to the whole team so each person can adapt their process based on current conditions. Scrum follows Agile principles, and expands on other areas of development.
According to Collabnet, organizations that use Scrum experience the following benefits:
- Higher productivity
- Better-quality products
- Reduced time to market
- Improved stakeholder satisfaction
- Better team dynamics
- Happier employees
It all depends on testing
Regardless of your preferred project management methodology, the ability to consistently produce stable releases depends on your ability to test your product throughout the entire development process.
People want value even from a first release. When a software release isn’t properly tested, serious flaws can obscure the value. Continuous testing makes it possible to put out stable releases that provide value to the client or end user.