Team Workflow with bzr and Launchpad

I was trying to explain how our team did workflow to a former colleague last week and I so I started thinking about all the different workflows I’ve dealt with in my career. This one is by far my favorite, although I know it’s not git which everyone loves, I’m curious what workflows other groups use with launchpad. Take a look at this one and let me know, can our team do anything better, can yours?

First a brief note about our team at Canonical. We work on “premium” customer-facing projects, typically on ARM based hardware. We are downstream from Ubuntu for the most part, and although we do send fixes upstream when it makes sense, often we make customizations to packages that cannot go upstream. I’ll use a real-world example for this workflow explanation, we have a platform where we want to remove the user list, help menu entry, and the logout menu enty from the session indicator, so we needed to modify indicator-session to do so.

The tl;dr version of our workflow is Decentralized with shared mainline, with parts of Decentralized with automatic gatekeeper added.

Setup a Shared Master (mainline)

Grab the source for indicator-session for the distroseries we’re based on, precise in this case. We usually grab it from launchpad or apt-get source if launchpad’s precise copy is out of date. This code gets pushed to lp:~project-team/project/indicator-session. This is now the master/mainline version. Everyone on the team has write access to this, provided they follow team rules.

Setting Up My Local Branch

I have a pbuilder already setup for our project usually, so my first step is to setup my local tree. I like to use a two level hierarchy here so that builds don’t “pollute” my main project area where I have dozens of different branches checked out. So I setup a subdirectory and checkout a copy to master.

cd ~/Projects/project-precise-amd64
mkdir indicator-session
cd indicator-session
bzr branch lp:~project-team/project/indicator-session master

Now I branch master, if this wasn’t a fresh checkout, I would bzr pull in master first.

bzr branch master remove-buttons

Make Changes

At this point we make fixes or whatever changes are needed. The package is built, changes are tested, and lintian is run (this one gets forgotten many times).

We have a few goals to meet for changes, we don’t always succeed, but here they are:

  1. No new lintian errors, if it’s a new package that we made, 0 is better.
  2. If the package has unit tests, add a new test case to cover what we just fixed/changed.
  3. Patches should have minimal DEP3 headers.
  4. Coding style should follow upstream.
  5. No new compiler warnings without explanation.
  6. Good changelog entries with bug numbers if applicable. Entries should list what files were modified. Distroseries set to UNRELEASED still (more on why later).

A note on lintian, Jenkins is capable of rejecting packages with lintian errors. We have this disabled because we need to fix the errors that crept in first when we didn’t follow this rule.

Push to a Remote Branch for Review

We code review everything we do, so the next step is to make the branch public for a review.

bzr commit -m "good message, usually we just use the changelog entry" --fixes lp:BUGNUM
bzr push lp:~project-team/project/indicator-session-remove-buttons

Setup a Code Review

Everything is reviewed and all reviews are sent to the team, though the onus is on the submitter to ping appropriate people if they don’t get a timely review. For code reviews, everyone is expected to provide a good explanation of what they’re doing and what testing was done.

We also have one of the “enhancements” here as we have a Jenkins instance (similar to this one) setup for some projects and Jenkins gets to “vote” on the review. Packages that fail to build or fail unit tests are marked as “Rejected” in the review by Jenkins.

Merge Back to Master

After the review is approved, the code submitter merges the code and commits it up to the mainline. I’m paranoid about master changing, although the push will fail if it did, so I always update it first.

We have to also fix the distroseries back. We do this on our team because it reduces the chance that someone will dput a package that is built from a local or non-master branch. If somone were to try and dput the changes file built from the remove-buttons branch, it would fail.¬†We really want the archive to only have packages built from master, it’s more repeatable and easier to track changes.

cd ~/Projects/project-precise-amd64/indicator-session
cd master
bzr pull
bzr merge ../remove-buttons
dch -e (modify distroseries from UNRELEASED to precise)
debcommit -r
bzr push :parent

Jenkins Does dput

Our team is slowly moving into the world of Jenkins and build/test automation, so we have Jenkins watching the master branch for interesting projects and it will manage the dput for us. This also provides a final round of build testing before we dput.

Some teams have autolanding setup, that is when the review is approved, the Jenkins instance will do the merge. For now, we’ve kept a human in the loop.

Update the Bug

It is annoying to look at a bug 3 months after you fixed it and wonder what version it’s fixed in. Although the debian/changelog tracks this, we generally always add a bug comment saying when a bug was fixed. For the most part people usually just paste the relevant changelog entry into the bug and make sure it’s marked as Fix Committed.

Tagged , , ,

3 thoughts on “Team Workflow with bzr and Launchpad

  1. Ted Gould says:

    If you throw an “bzr init-repo” in there the branching can be a lot faster, especially if you continue to use that branch. Also, typically you can use the symbolic names for PS projects, so something like lp:indicator-session/13.04 works great.

    • Matt Fischer says:

      What does bzr init-repo help? Also, we usually use those long paths since we’re typically working on private projects, pre-release.

      • Ted Gould says:

        It creates a shared directory of revisions so that you only have to download them once. So if you do another merge or branch, even from LP, it will realize you already have them. On a big projects it can make the whole thing much more responsive.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>