Deconstruction of a Failure

Something I regularly tell my daughter, who can tend towards perfectionism, is that we all fail. Over the last few years, I’ve seen more and more talks and articles about embracing failure. The key is, of course, to learn from the failure. I’ve written a bit before about what I learned from leading the MozReview project, Mozilla’s experiment with a new approach to code review that lasted from about 2014 to 2018.
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A Tale of Two Commits

I’ve discussed and linked to articles about the advantages of splitting patches into small pieces to the point that I don’t feel the need to reiterate it here. This is a common approach at Mozilla, especially (but not just) in Firefox engineering, something the Engineering Workflow group is always keeping in mind when planning changes and improvements to tools and processes. Many Mozilla engineers have a particular approach to working with small diffs, something, I’ve realized over time, that seems to be pretty uncommon in the industry: the stacking of commits together in a logical series that solves a particular problem or implements a specific feature.
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A Vision for Engineering Workflow at Mozilla (Part Three)

This is the last post in a three-part series on A Vision for Engineering Workflow at Mozilla. The first post in this series provided some background, while the second introduced the first four points of our nine-point vision. The Engineering Workflow Vision (continued) 5. Reviews are straightforward and streamlined The Engineering Workflow team has spent a lot of time over the last few years on review tools, starting with Splinter, moving into MozReview, and now onto Phabricator.
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A Vision for Engineering Workflow at Mozilla (Part Two)

In my last post I touched on the history and mission of the Engineering Workflow team, and I went into some of the challenges the team faces, which informed the creation of the team’s vision. In this post I’ll go into the vision itself. First, a bit of a preamble to set context and expectations. About the Vision Members of the Engineering Workflow team have had many conversations with Firefox engineers, managers, and leaders across many years.
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Phabricator and Lando Launched

The Engineering Workflow team at Mozilla is happy to announce that Phabricator and Lando are now ready for use with mozilla-central! This represents about a year of work integrating Phabricator with our systems and building out Lando. There are more details in my post to the dev.platform list.

A Vision for Engineering Workflow at Mozilla (part one)

The OED’s second definition of “vision” is “the ability to think about or plan the future with imagination or wisdom.” Thus I felt more than a little trepidation when I was tasked with creating a vision for my team. What should this look like? How do I scope it? What should it cover? The Internet was of surprisingly little help; it seems that either no one thinks about tooling and engineering processes at this level, or (perhaps more likely) they keep it a secret when they do.
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Lando demo

Lando is so close now that I can practically smell the tibanna. Israel put together a quick demo of Phabricator/BMO/Lando/hg running on his local system, which is only a few patches away from being a deployed reality. One caveat: this demo uses Phabricator’s web UI to post the patch. We highly recommend using Arcanist, Phabricator’s command-line tool, to submit patches instead, mainly because it preserves all the relevant changeset metadata.
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More lessons from MozReview: Mozilla and Microcommits

There is a strong argument in modern software engineering that a sequence of smaller changes is preferable to a single large change. This approach facilitates development (easier to debug, quicker to land), testing (less functionality to verify at once), reviews (less code to keep in the reviewer’s head), and archaeology (annotations are easier to follow). Recommended limits are in the realm of 300-400 changed lines of code per patch (see, for example, the great article “How to Do Code Reviews Like a Human (Part Two)”).
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Phabricator and Lando November Update

With work on Phabricator–BMO integration wrapping up, the development team’s focus has switched to the new automatic-landing service that will work with Phabricator. The new system is called “Lando” and functions somewhat similarly to MozReview–Autoland, with the biggest difference being that it is a standalone web application, not tightly integrated with Phabricator. This gives us much more flexibility and allows us to develop more quickly, since working within extension systems is often painful for anything nontrivial.
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Decisions, decisions, decisions: Driving change at Mozilla

As the manager responsible for driving the decision and process behind the move to Phabricator at Mozilla, I’ve been asked to write about my recent experiences, including how this decision was implemented, what worked well, and what I might have done differently. I also have a few thoughts about decision making both generally and at Mozilla specifically. Please note that these thoughts reflect only my personal opinions. They are not a pronouncement of how decision making is or will be done at Mozilla, although I hope that my account and ideas will be useful as we continue to define and shape processes, many of which are still raw years after we became an organization with more than a thousand employees, not to mention the vast number of volunteers.
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