Important Configuration Definitions

  • Source code— Files written in high-level languages such as C# that need to be compiled (for example, foo.cs).
  • Source(s)— All the files involved in building a product (for example, C, CPP, VB, DOC, HTM, H, and CS). This term is used mostly as a catch-all phrase that is specific not only to source code files but to all the files that are stored in version tracking systems.
  • Codeline— A tree or branch of code that has a specific purpose, such as the mainline, release line, or hotfix line that grows collectively.
  • Mainline or trunk (“The Golden Tree”)— The main codeline of the product that contains the entire source code, document files, and anything else necessary to build and release the complete product.
  • Snapshot— A specific point in time in which the sources and build are captured and stored, usually on a release or build machine.
  • Milestone— A measurement of work items that includes a specified number of deliverables for a given project scheduled for a specified amount of time that are delivered, reviewed, and fixed to meet a high quality bar. The purpose of a milestone is to understand what is done, what is left to do, and how that fits with the given schedule and resources. To do this, the team must complete a portion of the project and review it to understand where the project is in the schedule and to reconcile what is not done with the rest of the schedule. A milestone is the best way to know how much time a portion of the project will take.
  • Code freeze— A period when the automatic updates and build processes are stopped to take the final check-ins at a milestone.
  • Public build— A build using the sources from the mainline or trunk.
  • Private build (also referred to as a sandbox build)— A build using a project component tree to build more specific pieces of the product. This is usually done prior to checking in the code to the mainline.
  • Branching— A superset of files off the mainline taken at a certain time (snapshot) that contains new developments for hotfixes or new versions. Each branch continues to grow independently or dependently on the mainline.
  • Forking— Cloning a source tree to allow controlled changes on one tree while allowing the other tree to grow at its own rate. The difference between forking and branching is that forking involves two trees, whereas branching involves just one. It is also important to note that forking or cloning makes a copy (snapshot) of the tree and does not share the history between the two trees, whereas branching does share the history.
  • Virtual Build Labs (VBLs)— A Virtual Build Lab is a build lab that is owned by a specific component or project team. The owner is responsible for propagating and integrating his code into the mainline or public build. Each VBL performs full builds and installable releases from the code in its source lines and the mainline. Although the term virtual is used in the name of the labs, don’t confuse it with Virtual PC or Virtual Machines because the labs are real physical rooms and computer boxes. It is not recommended that you use Virtual software for build machines except possibly for an occasional one-off or hotfix build. , “The Build Lab and Personnel.” There is usually a hierarchy of VBLs so that code “rolls up” to the mainline or trunk. For example, let’s say that you have a mainline, Project A is a branch off of the mainline, and Developer 1 has a branch off the project branch. Developer 1 has several branches off his branch, with each branch representing a different component of the product. If he wants to integrate one of his branches into main, he should first merge his changes with all the levels above the branch to make sure he gets all the changes. Alternatively, he can just roll the changes into main, which sits higher in the hierarchy. This will become clearer in the next couple of pages.
  • Reverse integration (RI)— The process of moving sources from one branch or tree to another that is higher in the VBL hierarchy.
  • Forward integration (FI)— The process of moving sources from one branch or tree to another that is lower in the VBL hierarchy.
  • Buddy build— A build performed on a machine other than the machine that the developer originally made changes on. This is done to validate the list of changed files so that there are no unintended consequences to the change in the mainline build.