Thursday, August 02, 2007

Continous Integration Book is Out

The first book dedicated solely to continuous integration has just come out. I've been poring over it and have learned several things. The great dearth of useful documentation for CI implementations made me very hopeful that this book would give me a wealth of new insights.

Unfortunately, I was a bit disappointed. The book does a good job of explaining what CI is and why you should use it; and it's the text I'd rely on to sway a manager who needed convincing. But after these explanations, the book wanders around. I understand the problem: it's hard to talk about CI without giving examples for a specific CI server--of which there are so many. So the authors chose to talk about other topics: specifically, build and test issues. This is a good book for best practices for build and test cycles; but alas these are treated as disjoint topics from CI.

What more disappointed me was the lack of information on choosing a CI server. Many (but not all) CI packages are given very cursory discussions in Appendix B, where they share space with discussions of Ant and Maven. The book definitely punted here when it should have done right by its readers and really explained the differences and offered guidelines on choosing properly.

Finally, a personal grouse point. This book follows a fad in computer books of putting an epigraph at the start of every chapter. Properly chosen epigraphs should be 1) witty 2) incisive or 3) unexpected. Most of those in this book are prosaic. Do we gain anything from this quotation from Larry Bird "First, master the fundamentals." or from Henry Ford intoning "Quality means doing it right when no one is looking."?

Overall, I feel this could have been a great book. The thirst for this information is deep and the authors are knowledgeable. However, it didn't quite come together in this edition.

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