Posts Tagged ‘install’

Keep Your Project Files in the WAR

July 13, 2010

Have you ever created a project and had someone say (maybe that person was yourself) “we better put that file in an external place so I can be changed at runtime just in case”? Chances are if you did and followed through on it without a specific requirement for it then I would be willing to bet you ended up never changing the file at runtime (presuming you have a relatively strict change process at your shop). I have put myself in the same situation many times creating overly complex software which involved many random file system structures external to the central package (in JEE the WAR file) because of the “in case we need it” rationale. I want to convince people that we should stop unless its required.

When you start creating file system dependencies or other dependencies on your code outside the package you are basically trading increased complexity for flexibility. In most cases I have seen this trade off made (outside of requirements) because people are trying to anticipate issues with the code but it actually just heightens the probability for issues in the future because of the increased complexity. It’s not that you won’t code it right the first time but in the future it can and probably will cause confusion and problems with new developers without a lot of extra work. The extra work being creating hooks in the build process, handling potential environment differences, and deployment issues beyond the initial build.

In the end if you have the belief you can code it write in the first place then just code the simplest solution right, don’t over shot the mark. Unless you have a compelling need avoid creating external dependencies on your application.

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Web Project Install Wrecks

June 11, 2010

Working in custom software on web applications for a few years now and one thing which is a continual issue is project installs. Its interesting when your developing non-packaged software, the actual install process is an after thought. Projects have sprawling parts spread across the file system, install step on a application server or web server, and some set of database tables/procedures which many custom shops decide to try to enumerate out into implementation steps. This puts great pressure on the team producing the install documentation to not forget anything and someone to faithfully reproduce the steps, which means that even with a test run it can still be error prone. I think there is a thought that because the software doesn’t ship its not worth while to create automated install code to allow someone to simply install the app and the application take care of additional steps. For simple applications it certainly maybe overkill but if your moving into multiple environments for a single release which many larger projects are going to have to do, its worth the investment.