One of the first questions facing development teams is deciding how to organize their code in a source control system. In this article, I will describe an approach that we have applied successfully at multiple organizations over the last decade. I hope it will help you and your team make your development environment and processes leaner and more efficient.
First, let's understand what capabilities we are looking for from our source control system:
- Support of the domain-driven design philosophy
- Support of a distributed application development
- Support of a structured, repeatable, and traceable release process
Our source control system is organized around release units. Release Unit can be thought of as a collection of folders and files that are released (and thus, reused) together. It is a job of application architecture to break down a large monolithic application into multiple release units so that they can be tackled independently by different development teams.
Pull and Push Release Unit Dependencies
We recognize two types of dependencies between release units: Push and Pull. Let's assume that Release Unit A depends on Release Unit B. Push dependency means that every time B is changed, it is automatically integrated with A. Pull dependency means that B is integrated into A when A's development team decides to pull a new version of B into A.
An example of Pull Dependency: an application that depends on a shared domain. Even though a new version of the shared domain may be released each month, it does not force the application to be integrated, tested, and redeployed on a monthly basis. Instead, the application integrates with the shared domain only when the application development team decides to pull a new version of the shared domain into the application.
An example of Push Dependency: a web application that depends on the portal's header and footer. Every time, the new header and footer are implemented, each web application is automatically integrated with the new header and footer code.
Implementing Release Unit
We recommend to store a release unit in its own source control folder with the following layout:
/trunk - contains the latest version of the release unit code (may be in progress)
/tags - contains read-only copies of the code (e.g., previous releases of the code into production or test environments)
/branches - contains branch copies of the code
Implementing Pull Dependency
Create /lib folder in your release unit's trunk and place all release unit's pull dependencies there. Configure your release unit to automatically integrate with the dependencies placed in the lib folder. Next month, I will demonstrate how to set up a sample .NET solution structure with pull dependencies.
Implementing Push Dependency
Configure your release unit to link and automatically check out or export all its push dependencies. In Subversion, this can be achieved by using the svn-externals property.
Organizing Release Units
Even a medium-sized organization is likely to have hundreds or even thousands release units in their source control repository. In order to keep the repository manageable and easy to navigate, group release units belonging to the same bounded domain contexts together. For example, you may have a set of release units stored in the Accounting folder, another set stored in the HR folder, and another set stored in the Finance folder. You will need to refer to your domain context map in order to learn what bounded contexts exist in your organization.
- Structure source control to represent your domain context map
- Develop your applications using multiple release units
- For each release unit, assign ownership to a dedicated development team
- Integrate release units via Push and Pull dependencies
- Establish standard integration and release processes for all release units
Contact me if you have any questions or comments. Happy coding!