Dec 6, 2014

DIY Build Light Indicator

This post will differ from my typical posts. It's not about processes or methods. But actually it's related to the practice of Continuous Integration. That's one of the key engineering practices most Agile teams use. Originally proposed by Grady Booch, but later popularized as one of the eXtreme Programming practices. For many Continuous Integration is simply "that build system".

There are many free and commercial tools available for CI. I have actually played around with CruiseControl (not much and I've never actually configured any builds in CC. It was more or less fading away when I joined my company), TeamCity (this one I like a lot), Jenkins and lately Bamboo.

The problem with all these CI tools, and all other online tools, is that you need to navigate to a specific place to find out if the build is passing or not. Similar thing for a Scrum wall or Burndown chart if you use for example JIRA. For us physical humans the physical things just work well...

The build light is a remedy for this. It converts the status of the build in our CI tool to a physical form: colored light. If the light is green, the build is passing. If the light is red, someone needs to fix the build ASAP! This kind of information radiator can easily spark action and foster self-organization.

Making yourself a build light isn't that difficult nowadays. In our case the most difficult thing was to get a Phillips hue Starter kit. With that you get a light that you can control with your computer. Then you will need a CI tool. In our case we connected our build light to a Bamboo build.

Then maybe the most difficult part: you need the glue code between your CI and your lamp. But today that's not too difficult either. Node-RED has made the task of connecting our physical devices to internet lot easier. (I'm not sure if it was difficult before. I'm just assuming it was.) Instructions for connecting your hue to Node red can be found from this blog post. (Actually before you get to use Node-RED, you will need node.js installed.)

But skipping ahead a few steps you get this: voila! Now we can diminish the "is the build passing?" questions. Simply check the lighting. If it's pleasant green you have nothing to worry. :)

Our buildlight. Who broke the build!?

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