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The Build Master

I picked up The Build Master a couple weeks ago, but have just gotten around to reading it. I’m only up to chapter five, but it’s already justified itself as a purchase. What I found most amazing so far is how the author paints an exact picture of what I just had to deal with here at Mimeo which is that most development houses think of builds and SCM as a secondary task that can be performed by developers when the time comes. Nuh-uh. Read the book and the author explains exactly why this isn’t the case and why it’s important to have at least one person in your organization fulfilling this role as his/her primary responsibility.

For example, I was spending about 30-40% of my time performing SCM tasks. I’m the Chief Software Architect of the company… that’s an insane amount of time for me to be dedicating to SCM when I have so many other things to do. That doesn’t even account for the 15-25% time that another developer was spending focusing on build script maintenance, the actual running/monitoring of the builds and all the paperwork that goes along with doing releases. That’s time that resource could be producing more features or fixing bugs. Crazy.

Luckily, we hired a Release Manager recently and his job is now full time doing all that work. We’re in the process of migrating our code base to 2005 and Team Foundation Source Control so his job should become easier from both the SCM and the build point of views, but it’s still going to be a full time job. We still have a lot of trouble communicating build defects, what builds are where and what work items have been completed in a given build. Hopefull Team Build solves a lot of those problems, but there still needs to be someone on top of that stuff communicating status between teams and that’s why I’m happy to have him on board.

Anyway, I highly recommend picking up the book because it’s definitely worth the read and offers a lot of valuable information from someone who has done this work for a long time. Oh and if your management team doesn’t see the value in paying someone to perform those tasks, send them a copy too and encourage force them to read it.

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