Automate as much as possible

While working at REDACTED, I reported the following issue.

There are so many places where automation can make you save time and mistakes. One, the first I found at REDACTED, was related to how the application architecture was set up.

The application I worked on used a couple of separate modules, also made by us: Core and UI Components.

  • Core collected in one place all the app’s services. (in Angular terms, i.e. classes/methods to access all the endpoints of the Back end)
  • UI Components collected in one place all the app’s UI elements, like easier to use tables and inputs.

While it made sense to separate UI elements (because they changed slowly, there was a special team dedicated to maintaining them, they could be used by other apps, …), it was a mistake to separate the Back end library. (because it changed very frequently, the same programmer making a page had to change it too, they could only be used by the same app, …)

On a daily basis, after adding a new endpoint or changing a previous one in your custom branch, you had to

  1. compile the Core module
  2. remove the currently used Core module from the app
  3. add the just built Core module to the app
  4. compile and run the server of the app

Did I mention you had to do those steps manually? But there was a twist, too. If you wanted to add a new module from the Internet, the standard command $ npm install --save <module> had been hooked into by our team leader to automatically build and install again both the Core and the UI Components modules. Neat, right?

Unfortunately though, his cool thing did build and install the development branch of the Core module, not your custom branch!! In the end, each time the collection of third party modules changed (a change introduced by you or others) you had to run the $ npm install command again to install all the modules of the collection but you also had to remember the twist and manually run the steps above again afterwards. In fact, the command replaced your perfectly good, previously compiled, custom branch of the Core module with its unrequested, freshly compiled, development branch, and you had to undo that.

Why did he program that that way? I guess because that suited his own needs as a team leader. In fact, probably to test if additional internet modules would work fine in the app, he had to be sure to install them into the most up-to-date version of the app, so he needed to install the development branches of the Core and UI Components modules.

There was absolutely no need to keep the steps above manual so, two weeks after being hired and many times after forgetting one of the steps or the twist and wasting time to understand why suddenly the app didn’t work anymore, I wrote a very simple script to run all the right steps for me.

It worked very nicely but it wasn’t cool enough according to the team leader standards. It faced his frontal opposition immediately, and I was forced not to share my improvement with my colleagues.

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