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VMblog Expert Interview: Rollbar Talks Continuous Code Improvement - A new way to think about your software development life cycle (SDLC) and code health

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Over time, the software industry has come up with several ways to deliver code faster, safer, and with better quality.  Many of these efforts center on ideas such as continuous integration, continuous delivery, agile development, DevOps, and test-driven development.  All these methodologies have one common goal: to enable developers to get their code out quickly to the people who use it.  Continuous Code Improvement is an approach that allows organizations to release code faster and more safely.

To learn more, VMblog spoke with Michael Davis, CRO at Rollbar.

VMblog:  What does Continuous Code Improvement mean?

Michael Davis:  Continuous Code Improvement (CCI) is both a methodology and a solution. CCI helps organizations release code in faster and faster cycles while also improving code quality.

CCI is an approach to software development that acknowledges that code isn't perfect and it never will be. Code is either being written, running, or breaking. During that cycle, code issues are found, bugs filed, users surveyed, tests performed and all of these reveal ways that the code can be made better. CCI means detecting, understanding and making these improvements as part of that cycle.

A Continuous Code Improvement solution gives companies a quick feedback loop to know when there's a code change that needs to happen, detailed information to improve the code, and tools to automate remediation of code issues. Code is monitored, errors detected, code improved and then re-released to continue the cycle. CCI enables developers to focus on continually improving their code and constantly innovating rather than spending time monitoring, investigating, and debugging.

VMblog:  Why is continuous code improvement important?

Davis:  It's reasonable to say that the pace of iteration is only going to get faster and faster and the time between releases will shrink. For companies to keep up the pace, it's a prerequisite to be able to fix code issues quickly and cost-efficiently. But it's a challenge for developers to maintain quality and manage the risk of many, rapid releases - there is less time to test and potentially more frequent incidents that can affect customers and users.

Continuous Code Improvement acknowledges the need for organizations to release code in faster and faster cycles and takes the approach that this can lead to better code quality, not worse. Software development teams that think about their releases in this way can succeed at their goal of releasing code faster without compromising on code quality. 

What CCI gives you is a drastically reduced time to fix and cost to fix for code issues. When you know you can fix things really quickly and at lower costs, this enables you to make decisions to increase the velocity and frequency of releases. Being able to release early and often is essential to the success of any company today to provide value to the customer faster and iterate rapidly to stay ahead on the innovation curve. 

VMblog:  How does CCI interact with the SDLC?

Davis:  Continuous Code Improvement is both a philosophy and solution that gets embedded in the SDLC. It adds more information to the feedback loop at all stages, informing improvements to the next release without slowing releases down. CCI improves error detection during QA and testing. Releases and deployments are less risky and CCI provides a safety net with automated remediation for any new or reactivated error. During production, problems are identified quickly and dealt with quickly, when they are discovered, rather than being added to a long term technical debt. Once CCI is included as part of the approach to the SDLC it adds an additional layer that improves code quality steadily without adding friction to the SDLC.

VMblog:  Developer efficiency and experience is a growing field.  How does CCI relate to that?

Davis:  Continuous Code Improvement was developed as part of Rollbar's mission to help improve the coding experience for all developers. So CCI is a direct result of a desire to improve developer experience and efficiency. Rollbar's continuous code improvement platform helps development teams deploy better software, faster, and quickly recover from critical errors in their code. Rollbar enables developers to focus on continually improving their code and constantly innovating rather than spending time monitoring, investigating, and debugging. Continuous Code Improvement is the process of automating code health to enable developers to deploy better software, faster, and constantly innovate.

VMblog:  Who should care about continuous code improvement?

Davis:  Everybody involved with the SDLC as part of their work should care about Continuous Code Improvement. Developers care because CCI gives them full visibility into code issues and enables them to deal with problems quickly with detailed information and data. That in turn allows them to get back to being productive on creating new features and writing better code. Developer managers care because CCI and Rollbar's tools allow their teams to be more effective and work on more productive things. This also means that there are fewer 2AM urgent alerts to fix errors and the experience and satisfaction of their development teams improves. DevOps engineers care about CCI because it removes friction from the SDLC and helps more portions of their SDLC and tools be better integrated and operate more effectively. And the people in charge of developer experience care about CCI because it directly impacts the experience of their developers and helps them to be more effective.

VMblog:  What will continuous code improvement do for my organization (both at a software team level and a business level)?

Davis:  Continuous Code Improvement will help your software teams be more effective and more productive. More bugs will get fixed rather than pushed to technical debt. Bugs will get fixed faster and your software teams can spend more time on creative and productive work.

On a business level CCI means that software releases can happen faster with higher quality. Mean time to resolution of errors will go down. That also means that customer complaints and issues will be dealt with faster, often before they have a business impact. 

VMblog:  How does someone get started integrating CCI into their organization?

Davis:  The best way to begin implementing CCI into your organization is to think carefully about your SDLC and how you want to go about speeding it up and increasing quality. Look at tools like Rollbar and how functionality like real-time error monitoring, automated and intelligent grouping, and intelligent workflow can help you speed up your release cycles and simultaneously improve code quality.


Published Thursday, August 19, 2021 7:32 AM by David Marshall
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