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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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lcdweb

Having taken advantage of a Black Friday sale at BuyaPi.ca and picked up a Raspberry Pi 3 Model B, I then needed something to do with it. I’m not sure how it popped into my head, but at some point I realized my bar absolutely needed a Times Square zipper-type LED display. I mean, it seems so obvious in retrospect. At first I thought about making one but then I thought “hahah yeah right no”.
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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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Phabricator Update

tl;dr Development Phabricator instance is up at https://mozphab.dev.mozaws.net/, authenticated via bugzilla-dev.allizom.org. Development, read-only UI for Lando (the new automatic-landing service) has been deployed. Work is proceeding on matching viewing restrictions on Phabricator revisions (review requests) to associated confidential bugs. Work is proceeding on the internals of Lando to land Phabricator revisions to the autoland Mercurial branch. Pre-release of Phabricator, without Lando, targeted for mid-August. General release of Phabricator and Lando targeted for late September or early October.
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