Peer Programming and Code Review Q&A

CollabNet kicked off the new year with a 3 part series called Go Agile with Git on January 15, 2013. (Tweet This!) This series is designed as a crash-course on managing Git workflows and continuous branching and merging in Agile software development, then explores the power of code review with Gerrit and Jenkins. The second installment of the series was a look into utilizing Gerrit Code Review to achieve a faster, more efficient code delivery similar to peer programming. Thank you to everyone that attended, but if we missed you please register for the on-demand replay. The first installment of this series on Git workflows, branching, and merging is also available!

Because of the large audience and limited time constraints, not all of the audiences’ questions were able to be answered during the live presentation, until now…

Our guest presenter, Luca Milanesio, is pleased to elaborate on all questions and comments from the webinar. Luca is Director and cofounder of GerritForge LLP, key technology partner of CollabNet, and has over 20 years of experience in development management, software configuration management and software development lifecycle management in large enterprises worldwide.

Here is the complete log of questions and answers by Luca:

Q: What were the three branches mentioned?

A: You typically have at least three branches on your Git repositories: 1. Main development branch (master), 2. Stabilization and release branch, 3. Production and maintenance branch. The level of access control and code-review workflow you may want to apply to different branches is potentially different: Gerrit Code Review allows the definition of ACLs on a per-branch basis, allowing to easily manage a more fine-grained access to contributors on development branch whilst putting more strict control and validation on stabilization and production branches.

Q: I tried to POC Gerrit but fell at the 1st hurdle – the login to website was insisting on an OpenID logon – we run behind a strict firewall so OpenID did not work – is there a way to allow a simple logon process at least for the QA

A: Gerrit Code Review set-up typically requires to have an existing user registry for authenticating users: I suggest to use a simple plain LDAP configuration rather than OpenID (i.e. you could download ApacheDS to set-up a sample registry) or download the CollabNet TeamForge 6.2 VMware appliance that includes Gerrit 2.1.8 integrated with CollabNet user registry. For a more recent Gerrit 2.5.1 binary distribution, you could download the GerritForge 2.5.1 binary distribution that includes a step-by-step setup procedure that provides: 1. creation of an initial administrative account without the need of any external user registries or LDAP, 2. initial configuration of groups and roles, 3. sample repositories ready to be used as templates.

Q: Can Gerrit be used in Linux and Microsoft OSes? A: Gerrit is a Java EE based application; can be hosted in any OSes that supports Java JDK 1.6 or later. There is still a binary dependency on Git executable in the Gerrit wrapper start-up shell: this can be simply resolved by porting the gerrit.sh to the target Operating System you want Gerrit to be hosted. GerritForge 2.5.1 for instance is available for all major UNIX platforms, Mac OSX and Microsoft Windows Servers and is integrated as automatic native system service. Q: How is Gerrit different from Sonar and Hudson integrated to SVN?

A: Sonar and Hudson are excellent tools for executing of a number of quality checks every time that a commit is created. However they do not include the ability to provide change-promotion based on voting plus collaboration tracking in terms of ideas and comments to the code. They remain however excellent tools that can be used as complement to the Code Review process, for providing additional automated score on change-sets uploaded to Gerrit.

Q: Is there any good web based code review tools like Gerrit for Subversion?

A: There are definitely other tools on the market, for instance CollabNet TeamForge includes ReviewBoard. This can be used on top of other SCMs including Subversion. ReviewBoard is not comparable to Gerrit though when managing code-reviews you do need the ability to amend your code history and merge changes back to the target branch when review is completed. Subversion and other SCMs do not provide that flexibility, as a consequence the code-review on top of it cannot provide all the functionalities provided out-of-the-box by Gerrit.

Q: Can we integrate Bugzilla and / or HP QC (Quality Center) with Team Forge? A: CollabNet provides integration to HP QC with his connector architecture; and CollabNet Connect would allow integration with other tools such as Bugzilla. CollabNetConnect1 Peer Programming and Code Review Q&A

If you would like to just integrate change-sets to issues, Gerrit includes a generic Issue-Tracker Connector framework that allows you to connect to potentially any external Issue-Tracker. Bugzilla has been recently supported by WikiMedia and HP QC is currently in the GerritForge 2.6 pipeline: those plugins allow Gerrit to talk directly to QC and Bugzilla for associating code commits and code reviews to existing issues and linking their respective workflows together. GerritCodeReview Peer Programming and Code Review Q&A

Q: What are the major differences between Gerrit/Jenkins and existing enterprise application testing tools such as Junit/ANT or Oracle Application testing framework? Can they be integrated with Eclipse IDE for code reviewing and testing purposes?

A: Gerrit/Jenkins are not integrated out-of-the-box with Junit/ANT or Oracle Application Testing tools: main purpose of Gerrit is not to execute tests against the code but enforcing maximum visibility of changes in the Development Team and beyond. Gerrit itself does not enforce the numbers and nature of checks against your code; however Gerrit can be potentially integrated with Junit/Ant and Oracle Application Testing tools to collect their feedback and track as score into a change-set review. From Gerrit 2.6 the code-review functions will be available even via RESTFul API: automation through Ant will be possible via scripting or custom tasks. Gerrit is already integrated with Eclipse IDE via Mylyn and its native Gerrit plugin: it allows to receive feedback in realtime on incoming code-reviews and display comments as annotations inside Eclipse standard code editor.

JerritIntegration Peer Programming and Code Review Q&A

Q: Can we Integrate Maven and / or Ant with Team Forge?

A: TeamForge provides a SOAP Interface (in addition to REST) and both Java and Python interface to access via external tools or scripting. This means that potentially both Maven and Ant can be used for accessing TeamForge artifacts.

Q: Can we block commits to the master branch and only use ref/for/master and force commits to gerrit code review?

A: Yes, by using Gerrit fine-grained ACLs to refs/heads/master and allowing push for review to refs/for/refs/heads/master.

Q: Slide #28 (Gerrit workflow): What happens if master contains code conflicting the check-in of A2* (because this check-in was done prior to change A2*)? Can Gerrit auto-resolve this conflict?

A: No, as Gerrit does not know how to resolve automatically a conflict: Gerrit can try to merge the code anyway, depending on the Gerrit project settings, but if a conflict is detected, change-sets cannot merged back into the branch. GerritandJenkins Peer Programming and Code Review Q&A

Q: That overview graph (CI + CR with traffic lights, branches) you showed was very helpful, to see what you are talking about. Which tools were you saying that covered? Gerrit and Git? TeamForge?

A: Workflow shows the usage of Git, Gerrit Code review and Jenkins CI together to validate a Change-Set and merging it to master branch. Master branch is always with a “green” street light (Build is healthy) whilst the “red” and “amber” lights are only on the refs/for/master (code-review branch) and do not impact the rest of project team development. TeamForge is the ALM to connect everything together (Git, Gerrit and Jenkins) in a unique environment.

Q: Is there integrations between other CI tools and TeamForge?

A: TeamForge provides integration with Cruise Control and Maven as well. Potentially other Continuous Integration tools can be integrated with TeamForge by using the SOAP/REST or Java and Python API.

Q: How would you recommend a small distributed group (4 devs, 2 testers) to sort of “try out” this complex approach you are promoting here, while continuing to maintain our daily work via Subversion?

A: Git allows to pull and push back to Subversion, using the “git svn” commands. You can dedicate a branch (i.e. trunk-review) to experiment Gerrit code-review workflow, whilst keeping the rest of the development on the standard trunk branch. Once code-review is completed and merged to trunk-review, branch can be pushed back to Subversion and tracked as a normal regular commit. Bear in mind that Subversion does not have all the power of Git on merging code together, you may need extra manual work then to bring the changes back into the main trunk.

Q: How does Teamforge run Gerrit? Can Gerrit run as a Windows service?

A: TeamForge runs Gerrit into a separate JVM, activated and managed in the same way as any other TeamForge daemons. Gerrit itself can be activated either via gerrit.sh wrapper script or as standard Java WAR application into a standalone Servlet Container (i.e. Tomcat). In this second form it can be technically executed into a Windows service, such as Apache Tomcat running into a Java Service Wrapper.

Q: We’re using TeamCity as CI, can it be used and integrated with Gerrit?

A: In theory they can be integrated, using Gerrit SSH or RESTFul (from Gerrit 2.6) scripting. See this example from Timothy Basanov BLOG. Unfortunately TeamCity is not OpenSource and thus has a more limited community of plugin developers providing integrations for Git and Gerrit. Jenkins CI has the world’s largest community of plugin developers for a Continuous Integration engine and already provides support for Gerrit Code Review workflow.

Q: Can Gerrit or Team Forge help migrate code from IBM Rational ClearCase to GIT?

A: CollabNet offers professional services to support migration from ClearCase to Git. Thanks, again for everyone who joined in on the webinar and for all of the great questions for Luca.

If you enjoyed this webinar, please register for the last installment of this complimentary series: Go Agile with Git Part 3 of 3: Hands-On Lab with Gerrit & Jenkins

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Posted in Git, TeamForge
3 comments on “Peer Programming and Code Review Q&A
  1. mmcgowan says:

    Great stuff! Looking forward to the next webinar

  2. bwalsh says:

    Bring on the new webinar.

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