Branching strategies are a feature in code review tools and software that enable the development team to reduce and subdivide review work and refactor the code making the development process flow fast. It is important to know when and to use the branching strategies since they provide services such as working simultaneously on tasks as a team and a quick feedback process. GitHub is known to have a variety of strategies to select as elaborated by gitential.com.
The branching strategy models ensure the logical, consistent, and proper understanding of the code base as it develops. Advanced projects with big teams require an organized developed parallel strategy that ensures the merging of all developer’s ideas hence preventing conflicts at the final process in software development. Team members are provided with the opportunity of working at the same time without their input affecting each other’s progress hence achievement of better products and a stable codebase. Every branching strategy model provides instructions on how, when, and why branches are developed and named. Selection of the right branching strategy is key to ensure that it well fits the teams working requirements otherwise it may result in burdens and slow workflow.
Work coordination, easy integration, and delegation of changes and commits are essential for quality software development. A good branching strategy ensures software development workflow and is needed to ease branching and merging of large teams’ activities. To reduce the amount of effort required in managing big teams of developers a branching strategy should.
- Enable parallel development.
- Elaborate and provide a clear path for inclusion of changes into the development process.
- Optimize productivity.
- Support all the multiple versions of software and patches.
- Allow an organized, planned, and structured release of changes.
- Have the ability to accommodate all possible changes made frequently.
- Below are some of the branching strategies that help in the efficient management of code changes.
Feature branching strategies
This allows developers to create a branch for a specific task or feature allowing them to work separately. The developers can take part in different tasks at the same time such that one can be working on fixing bugs while the other creates a new workflow for clients. The different teams involved are enabled to complete their assigned tasks separately and merge then finally at the end of the process. However, before merging various tasks each of them is tested and finished.
Features branching pros
Creating a stable codebase depends on the core products from various developers. Allowing developers to work independently and do experiments on each development ensures a quality outcome. The team members are provided with the opportunity to be creative and the freedom of being innovative before selecting what to implement in the development process. Feature branches also help developers to divide the work into small manageable batches and working on each segment separately. This branching strategy also provides the option of segmenting work to different sub-teams and finally integrating the work after testing is done.
Feature branching cons
Merging long-lasted feature branches is difficult and yet branching strategies are meant to enable durability of the feature for as long as it is being developed. When developers work separately for long periods while making changed it leads to more issues. This can be solved by ensuring frequent merging into the main branch. Creating an environment that provides for regular feature testing can also help to solve this issue.
Feature flag branching
Branching strategies ensure continuous delivery since the Develops team require regular testing of the development process. Frequent integration, testing, and code delivery help to quicken solving of issues during the development process. This feature employs the use of toggles and flags in substitute of separate feature branches. The codes can be turned on and off during the software development process.
Release branching strategy
This branching strategy is recommended for cases that involve multiple versions in parallel or those that require specific client customization. This allows developers to concentrate on a particular issue for every patch or release. However, it may be challenging to maintain when a lot of contributions and changes are being uploaded frequently. It has advantages in propagating bug fixes, merging, and testing across branches minimizing regression.
Merging of strategies is always done at the end of every feature or task. For both centralized and distributed systems, the final step includes merging of the entities to the main server. This helps the DevOps team to develop the software easily by putting everything that contributes to the building process in one accessible location. To avoid merging problems the following branching practices should be implemented.
- Ensure documentation of the branching strategy selected and communicate it to the team members.
- Minimize the time allocated for a code review process to avoid merge issues at the end of the process.
- Determine the dependencies i.e. the versions and teams that are likely to be affected by the branching strategy.
- Regular reviewing of merging and integration to help during identification of a problem source and fixing.
- Before settling for a branching strategy, select the right version control system that can handle various demands, several files, and contributors.
Finally, the involvement of perforce streams helps to make the development process easy for developers. A stream is a feature that provides support for complex branching strategies and releases. It helps in the setting up of a workspace whenever a developer creates a branch. It also gives a record of what files are available and which ones are being worked on and by which developer in specific. Streams reduce the number of complications resulting due to branching issues.
Branching strategies is a good way of ensuring strategic, sequential, organized, and parallel execution of development changes and releases in a software development process. Selecting the right and favourable branching strategy to employ is important to avoid complications at the final step of merging. An excellent branching strategy is created with consideration of concepts such as using branch features for all new changes and bug fixes, merging of all branch features into one central branch, and providing a high quality continuous and up to date delivery system.