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Re: Branching strategy - Feature vs Release

From: Duncan Murdoch <murdoch_at_stats.uwo.ca>
Date: 2006-11-08 12:59:38 CET

On 11/8/2006 5:06 AM, Gundersen, Richard wrote:
> Hi All
>
>
>
> We're having a big debate where I work over whether or not to use the
> "release" based branching strategy, or the "feature" based way.
>
>
>
> I've always worked with the latter. These are the reasons why:
>
>
>
> 1) Trunk is always stable. This always mimics exactly what's in
> production.
>
> 2) I do all new work on a branch (whether it's a small
> experimental change or a new release which is essentially a collection
> of new features). This to me has the following additional advantages
>
> a. My new changes don't affect the production codebase
>
> b. When the customer who requested change X wants it to go live, I
> can merge it in to the trunk (because its own isolated branch), and
> release only that change (plus whatever was in trunk originally). I then
> commit it, tag it, and hey presto, trunk still mimics production
> exactly. With the release based approach, with everyone committing
> different changes to the trunk, when a customer wants change X to go
> live, I have to tell him that it can go live, but I have to tell another
> customer that because I have to release X, his change Y must also go
> live too. This situation might never occur with systems that have a
> simple release lifecycle, but when you're dealing with large systems
> with different sets of customers (especially if they have different
> legal requirements, or they are in different countries) I think this is
> really important.
>
>
>
> The arguments against this approach are often:
>
>
>
> 1) Merging is hard. I don't like it
>
> a. Well, in my experience with Subversion and CVS, merging is
> actually quite easy. I might have a few conflicts to resolve every now
> and again, but they are usually pretty easy to iron out, especially if I
> keep my branch up to date with the trunk (which might have had some bug
> fixes done to it over time)
>
> 2) Keeping track of lots of branches is hard.
>
> a. Not really. If I use a good naming convention, a handful of
> branches are easy enough to keep track of. It's not as if I'm going to
> have hundreds of branches to worry about, in reality
>
> 3) We have release branches so you know exactly whats on a
> production server
>
> a. So does this approach - whatever is on the trunk is in
> production. And, a release branch by definition changes over time (until
> it's tagged as final after which there will still be an element of
> merging involved to get it in sync with the development branch (trunk in
> this case)).
>
>
>
> I can see why people would favour the release branch strategy, because
> it 'sounds' much simpler, but I think the benefits of the feature based
> approach far outweigh the negatives. I expect a lot of people to
> disagree with me, but it's a good debate and I'd welcome any comments.

One other argument in favour of doing development on the trunk and
release from branches: If you look at the log for a file, you see the
history of changes, not a series of "lots of changes merged from foo
branch" messages.

Duncan Murdoch

>
>
>
> Thanks
>
>
>
> Richard
>
>
>
>
>
>
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Received on Wed Nov 8 13:00:34 2006

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