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A Few More Observations

  • Earlier we talked about configuration management as taking a "snapshot" or backing up the system, but source-control systems optimize this facet in such a way that they don't need to archive unchanged files. This makes the system faster, but doesn't change the point: You want to be able to restore the system to a previous state.

  • Some configuration systems provide a branch for each sandbox (and most allow them for other purposes as well), so mainline is really in contrast to the branches. Some systems even capture each edit made in the sandbox, making it very easy to do things like undo an unsuccessful refactoring.

  • How often does integration occur? I encourage each pair to integrate at least twice a day, and preferably every hour or so.

  • Be sure to "go home clean"; don't leave code checked out (and not integrated) overnight. If a change is bigger than a day's work, take it as a sign that you should try to find a simpler way to tackle that change.

  • Some teams use an integration machine: a separate machine used only for integration (and not for development). At one level, this doesn't seem like it should make a difference, but it has some advantages:

  • Technically, it provides a relatively clean environment; if files weren't copied from the sandbox to the mainline, the integration won't succeed. (In most environments, this means that it wasn't added to source control.)

  • Psychologically, the act of moving to a new machine provides a mini-break and a sense of closure.

  • Socially, seeing people move to the integration machine several times when you haven't integrated in a while serves as a mini-jolt to remind you to integrate.

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