Continuous Delivery and Innovation

A colleague of mine passed on a link to an interesting article that I thought I would share. The article is called ‘7 Reasons why Continuous Delivery needs to be a BUSINESS initiative’. The article talks about why it is so important to be doing continuous delivery, not just from a technical perspective, but from a business perspective. The 7 reasons summarized are:

7 Reasons why Continuous Delivery needs to be a BUSINESS initiative
7 Reasons why Continuous Delivery needs to be a BUSINESS initiative

Build the right Product – Using a continuous deployment model helps to ensure you develop the right product by ensuring you get rapid feedback from your business partners and stakeholders.

Earlier Benefits – Continuous delivery enables you get benefit out to your business/customers earlier so they can take advantage of features sooner rather than later in a big bang deployment.

Ability to React Quickly and Respond to Change – If you have a continuous delivery system set up and are used to deploying continuously you can respond to changes in requirements more quickly or fix and deploy bugs sooner.

Innovation – The continuous delivery process enables you to work closer with the business. This closer working relationship means you have different kinds of people and skillsets working closer together. This can lead to different perspectives on problems which can lead to innovation.

Reliability and Stability – If you release your projects continuously you are repeatedly exercising your deployment process. This continual deployment and the fact you can react to change quicker leads to more reliability and stability.

More Efficient / Save Time –By automating your deployment process you can make your development team more efficient as they don’t have to deal with deployment issues as often leaving them more time to work on the good stuff, writing code!!!

Strategic Impact – A combination of all of the above gives you a strategic advantage over competitors as you can release more features sooner and fix problems sooner.

I can’t stress the benefits of getting continuous delivery working. If you are working on a new project and don’t have to deal with legacy code/systems then this is easier to achieve. If you have to deal with a huge knotted legacy estate like my developers have had to do, then getting a good continuous delivery pipeline running is harder, but can be achieved in stages.

This is what we did. We got automated builds going, and then had installers being built at the end of the builds. Then we worked on the tools for deploying to different environments. We have continuous delivery working into test environments but our next stage is to get this working for production deployments.

This is made harder for us as being part of an American Financial institution we are subject to the Sarbanes Oxley regulations which mean we have to have clear separation of concerns between development and production system, but we are looking to tackle this.

Continuous Delivery by Jez Humble and David Farley
Continuous Delivery by Jez Humble and David Farley

There is a very good book about this subject that I highly recommend reading. The book is called Continuous Delivery by Jez Humble and David Farley. Currently with the team I work in we are using TFS and its built in tools to manage our continuous delivery process with an auto deployment tool written by some of the guys on my team, but we are considering moving to just using TFS as a source repository and using Team City + Octopus Deploy to manage builds, packaging and deployment.

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Continuous Testing with NCrunch

Disclaimer: I currently do not own or have been given a license to NCrunch. I am forming my opinions of it based on the use of the 30 day evaluation license.

In this article I want to talk about a very useful tool called NCrunch. I have had a few people recommend the tool to me recently, so I thought I would check it out. I am glad I did. So, what is NCrunch? The description on their site explains this nicely.

Continuous Testing with NCrunch
Continuous Testing with NCrunch

NCrunch is an automated concurrent testing tool for Visual Studio .NET. It intelligently runs automated tests so that you don’t have to, and gives you a huge amount of useful information about your tested code, such as code coverage and performance metrics, inline in your IDE while you type.

On reading that I first though, hmm, well doesn’t visual studios test explorer do that, and it does, but this tools goes a step further. In essence NCrunch executes tests in the background whilst you work giving you continuous feedback. Initially I thought that’s not really such a big deal. One of the projects I am working in has 690 unit tests and because they are true unit tests, as in they don’t hit databases or external resources, then they only take 20 seconds or so to run. Even though this is the case you still get into the compile, run the tests, check the results, fix or carry on loop.

Using NDepend to Analyse the Quality of your Code

Disclaimer : My license for NDepend was provided free by Patrick Smacchia at NDepend. This license was not given to me in return for a good review. The article below is based purely on my own observations and use of NDepend.

A while back I published a couple of articles on Structured Code Reviews:

Structured Code Reviews and Code Quality

Unit Test Coverage, Code Metrics, and Static Code Analysis

In these articles I discussed a code reviewing process aimed at sharing knowledge and increasing code quality in your team. In these articles I discussed using the tools already available to you in Visual Studio 2012, like the Unit Test Runner, Code Metrics, and Static Code Analysis.

Using NDepend to Analyse the Quality of your Code
Using NDepend to Analyse the Quality of your Code

In this article I want to expand on the tools available by looking at a 3rd party tool called NDepend. So, what is NDepend? First let’s look at the description from their website.

Make your .NET Code Beautiful with NDepend

NDepend is a Visual Studio tool to manage complex .NET code and achieve high Code Quality. With NDepend, software quality can be measured using Code Metrics, visualized using Graphs and Treemaps, and enforced using standard and custom Rules.

Hence the software design becomes concrete, code reviews are effective, large refactoring are easy and evolution is mastered.

Essentially NDepend is an analysis tool that really allows you to dig deep into the structure and quality of your code. You may want to do this for various reasons. You may want to routinely keep an eye on the quality of your project, or you may have to get under the skins of a large piece of legacy code so that you can refactor it.

Validating Card Numbers with the Luhn Check Algorithm

In this article I want to discuss how to validate debit/credit card numbers. First I will talk about how the algorithm works on a theoretical level, and then I will present a C# implementation that you can use in your own code. Then I will show another implementation that allows you to generate multiple valid test card numbers.

Validating Card Numbers with the Luhn Check Algorithm
Validating Card Numbers with the Luhn Check Algorithm

The algorithm I want to discuss here is called the Luhn Algorithm. It is also known as the mod 10 check. The Luhn algorithm is a simple checksum formula used to validate a variety of identification numbers, but the most common use is credit card numbers. The algorithm was invented by an IBM scientist, Hans Peter Luhn.