Funding Gates

Deploying at Funding Gates

by Matt Rogish (@MattRogish)

Deploying, it seems, is hard. Folks have written very complex mechanisms to maintain different releases and branches:

Wow! That seems like a lot of work. You need to keep track of releases, hotfixes, and make sure that any last-minute work is propogated to all the relevant branches.

This feels very un-agile and not very lean. Moreover, it requires a gatekeeper (or more!) who decide if/when a release is to go out, appropriate documentation (here’s version 1.x release notes), and individual developers scrambling to get feature X or bug Y into the current release.

That’s a lot of headaches! Luckily, we’re working on web application software so we don’t have to worry about cutting releases and delivering them to end-users. Press a button and everyone gets the new feature!

As we’re optimizing for cycle time (how long it takes for a feature to hit production after starting) any hand-offs or waiting introduces costly delays. Code that has been written that is not deployed to users is wasteful undelivered inventory.

Process

  1. Developer works on feature
  2. Developer commits and pushes to master
  3. The system automatically deploys to production

There is no next step. That’s too simple, right? Right. There are some pre-requisites that make this possible:

  • We require high unit and functional test coverage to ensure nothing gets broken.
  • At every push to a remote branch, a Continous Integration server runs and rejects a build if a test fails, notifying the entire team of the failure.
  • Instead of working on long-running feature branches, we prefer to work with short running local branches or directly on master (up to each developer to decide)
  • All features that aren’t “ready” (either not finished yet or not ready for “marketing” purposes) are disabled via feature flags on staging/production.
  • Features we’re currently working on are enabled in development and QA/test
  • Any server errors are immediately delivered to the team chat/email and we have other monitoring systems in place that would identify “something bad” happening in production

Benefits

This gives us the ability to work on master, have master always deployable, and be confident that code that isn’t ready for public consumption won’t appear. Someone identifies a bug? I can add a test to catch it, fix it, and have it deployed to production within minutes - all without needing to get permission from anyone or perform git gymnastics.

Deployment is now a non-issue. No one needs to be “taught” how to do it. There isn’t even a button that needs pressed.

Continuous deployment isn’t crazy, and it absolutely scales with larger teams. Plenty of big companies like Github, Etsy, and the poster-child, IMVU are probably delivering as you read this.

You can add Funding Gates to that list!

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