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Intro

Intro

When building and deploying artifacts on our CI infrastructure, we build the “master” branch, but also feature branches like “FRESH-123”.

The master builds are what we potentially roll out for our users, so they need to be unimpaired by ongoing work.

Feature builds are important to validate contributions before they are integrated into the main line of development. We might, for example, want to deploy them to a dedicated server for integration testing.

Finally, when developing locally, we need our local changes to take precedence, but also want to fall back to the “standard” version of those artifacts we need, but don’t really care for.

Some side notes

The metasfresh-dependency.version build property

The property metasfresh-dependency.version plays an important role when resolving metasfresh dependencies. It is specified in the pom.xml of our metasfresh-parent, and there it is set to [1-master-SNAPSHOT],[${project.version}], which is our default value, but can be overidden from outside. ${project.version} in turn resolves to 3-development-SNAPSHOT.

Note 1: as we further elaborate on this elsewhere, 1-master-SNAPSHOT is a “master” build version, created and deployed by our CI infrastructure. So, for all artifacts that you did not build locally by yourself, maven can fall back to the “1-master-SNAPSHOT” version.

Note 2: in case you wonder why it’s actually [1-master-SNAPSHOT],[3-development-SNAPSHOT] and where the 2-... went, see the section about “feature” builds.

So, when building locally, maven tries to get the 3-development-SNAPSHOT version for each metasfresh dependency, but is ready to fall back to 1-master-SNAPSHOT.

However, when projects are built on our CI infrastructure, this property will be set to different values.

On the CI side, we distinguish between “master” builds and “feature” builds.

Note that there are dedicated “master” and “feature” build jobs, to make it easier to e.g. provide a dedicated build agent for each kind of job, or to be able to prefer master builds to feature builds if needed.

“master” build

When doing a “master” build, all metasfresh dependencies are built from their respective git repositories’ master branches. Also, the build artifacts’ versions are each set to 1-master-SNAPSHOT, as well as the value of the metasfresh-dependency.version property, and then the actual build starts.

Therefore, in a “master” build, only artifacts from the master branch are considered as dependencies.

This scenario is comparatively boring and not the reason why we need the metasfresh-dependency.version property and all build jobs & documentation.

“feature” build

When doing a “feature” build, it means that the respective build itself or at least one of its metasfresh dependencies are built from their respective repositories’ “not-master” branches. Typically, this is a branch like “FRESH-123”, but it might also be some other branch. So, calling it a “feature” build is usually correct and seems to be relatively clear to me, but calling it “not-master” build would actually be more correct.

A concrete example

In this section, we describe a concrete example, from a high-level view.

Note that in order to support feature builds in the described way, we need different types of jobs which end with _feature_webhook and _feature_downstream. The difference is described in another section. I think that in order to follow the example, it’s not requred to userstand the difference.

Three repositories are playing a role in this example:

To follow this example, it is not required to understand what those repositories are actually about functionally.

As of now, metasfresh-procurement-webui depends on both metasfresh-commons-cxf and metasfresh. Further, metasfresh and metasfresh-commons-cxf don’t depend on each other. On a sidenote, this is about to change, but for the sake of this documentation, it’s pretty convenient this way.

Assume that metasfresh-commons-cxf has a feature branch FRESH-276 while metasfresh and metasfresh-procurement-webui both do not have that branch.

Now we push a change on metasfresh-commons-cxf, branch FRESH-276.

The push causes the git repository to notify our CI server (which is Jenkins), which in turn starts the build job metasfresh-commons-cxf_feature_webhook.

This build job now does a number of things:

  1. check out the latest of branch origin/FRESH-276 from the git repository
  2. get the branch name (i.e. “FRESH-276”)
  3. call the versions-maven-plugin to set the pom’s version to 2-FRESH-276-SNAPSHOT
  4. run the maven build with metasfresh-dependency.version=[1-master-SNAPSHOT],[2-FRESH-276-SNAPSHOT] and deploy the artifacts
  5. invoke the downstream build jobs - which by the way have all their names end with “_feature_downstream” - one of which is metasfresh-procurement-webui_feature_downstream. When invoking the downstream jobs, it also passes the maven version (i.e. 2-FRESH-276-SNAPSHOT) on to them.

So, now the build job metasfresh-procurement-webui_feature_downstream is invoked with a version parameter 2-FRESH-276-SNAPSHOT. It does the following:

  1. attempt to check out the branch origin/FRESH-276, but as there is no such branch, it falls back to the origin/master branch
  2. call the versions-maven-plugin to set the pom’s version also to 2-FRESH-276-SNAPSHOT. So, note that when dedicing on the maven version to go with, the parameter we got from the upstream build job takes precedence over the actual branch which the job is building!
  3. run the maven build, again with metasfresh-dependency.version=[1-master-SNAPSHOT],[2-FRESH-276-SNAPSHOT]. Note that as maven versioning goes, everything starting with “2” is greater than everything starting with “1”, so when resolving artifacts, maven will prefer 2-FRESH-276-SNAPSHOT. This means that maven will resolve metasfresh to the latest 1-master-SNAPSHOT version and metasfresh-commons-cxf to the latest 2-FRESH-276-SNAPSHOT version.

So, to summarize: in this example

_feature_webhook vs _feature_downstream build jobs

In the previous section, we described how a _feature_webhook build job was notified by github and later, how a _feature_downstream job was invoked to check for the feature-branch and fall back to the master-branch if there wasn’t a feature branch.

Why do we need two different build jobs?

Unfortunately, we need two differnt jobs for the two different scenarios, because yours truly is not capable of making one job do both things. Instead we have:

The two kinds of job differ in their git plugin configuration. For the _feature_webhook we pretty much leave the jenkins git plugin alone, and let it do it’s job of figuring out which recents changes were not yet build.

But for the fallback ability of the _feature_downstream scenario, we need to use the Git Chooser Alternative Plugin. And it turned out, that with this plugin being active for a build job, the git plugin is not able any more to idendfiy the changes is has to build.

Thus the two different jobs. As usual, be would be grateful for help and improvements.


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