Jenkins CI Build Monitor

Jenkins CI is a popular open source continuous integration server. I encourage teams to use continuous integration, however many teams setup the server, configure the automated e-mail blasts and think that’s all there is to it. Many teams don’t make the results of their builds part of an informative workspace. The team I’m currently working with fell into this trap and started having issues with failing builds going unnoticed. I looked around for some plugins and projects to help with this goal, but nothing quite met our needs.

Introducing Jenkins Radiator

I built Jenkins Radiator with a few things in mind:
  • We only care about passing jobs when all the jobs are passing
  • If a job is failing, it should be very obvious
  • If a job was failing and is being built again, we want to know
  • You shouldn’t be able to hide a job or otherwise ignore it, if it’s not important, get it off CI
  • A quick glance at the radiator from across the room should let you know if the build is green or not
Start Using Jenkins Radiator

Screenshots

Jenkins Radiator Failing Jobs

Jenkins Radiator Passing Jobs

Add Some Fun to Your Scrum Board

Physical Boards Please

I recently started working with a team who had been introduced to scrum as part of their organization’s adoption of agile. Their only experience with scrum was through the lens of a popular agile project management tool that rhymes with alley, as in “After using this software I want to vomit in an alley”. When they had the chance to use a physical board, they jumped on it. I setup a very simple scrum board on the outside of a cubicle near the team. We used index cards and colored pushpins, the normal stuff. After a few days, the team was loving it. They enjoyed moving tasks around, pushing green pins into completed cards and keeping an eye on which tasks were in-progress.

Accidental WIP

That’s when I noticed something strange. When I setup the board, out of sheer laziness on my part (I kept pricking my finger reaching into the bag of push pins) I only provided them with three yellow pins and three red pins, one for each member of the team. In doing so, I had created this artificial WIP limit. The team treated the yellow and red pins as their “own” as in, “this is my yellow pin”. At first I just though this was a neat little side effect of the circumstances, but then I realized I could capitalize on the situation by adding some personality to the board.

The last time you played Monopoly™, the board game, did anyone make a big deal about choosing their token? I bet they did, that seems to happen every time I play. There’s always the guy who has to be the race car or the top hat or whatever. People are serious about their monopoly pieces.

So back to the scrum board. I wondered to myself, could I somehow affix monopoly pieces to these push pins? With a quick trip to eBay for a bag of random monopoly pieces and some super glue, I had the answer. Yes, it can be done.

I presented the idea to the team and let them know that if they wanted to use a special push pin they could, or if they’d like to use a regular one that was fine too. The initial reaction was all smiles, quickly followed by, “I’m gonna go first before anyone else picks the race car!”

Agile Principles: Tear Down These Cubes

The most efficient and effective method of conveying information to and within a development team is face-to-face conversation.
– Agile Principles

Manager, Tear Down These Walls

If you were tasked with designing a system that made spontaneous collaboration difficult, you couldn’t go wrong with the modern cube farm. Members of a “team” dispersed over an area of the office, isolated in their drab tchotchke ridden cubicles. Instant message, e-mail and chat might be great for passive communication, but when it comes to real collaboration, being physically present is essential.

But We’re Distributed!

Co-located teams are better than distributed teams. However, sometimes we cannot be co-located. That does not mean we resort to passive forms of communication and digital tools to convey our progress and ask questions. Skype is better than a phone call which is better than e-mail. Don’t underestimate your brain’s ability to gather important insight from the facial and body language of the person on the other end of that video chat.

Agile Principles: Self-Organizing Teams are Motivated Teams

Build projects around motivated individuals. Give them the environment and support they need, and trust them to get the job done.
– Agile Principles

Self-Organizing

Allow the people doing the work to self-organize and discover the best implementation they can given what they know right now. Protect them from organizational politics and outside distractions, enable them to focus on the work at hand.

Self-Directing

While we encourage self-organization, we remember the need for direction. While the team does not self-direct, they need a clear vision and an understanding of success in order to attain the autonomy and purpose required to feel motivated.