The Cure for Chaos: Is DIY Worth the Time, Effort, & Risk?

Now more than ever, the marketplace is flooded with tools that can support, automate, and/or analyze practically any aspect your application lifecycle. Many of these tools are widely adopted and open source (read: common and free). Does common mean best-of-breed? Is stringing together free (often unsupported) open source solutions a prudent strategy for managing enterprise applications?

In this blog, Randall K. Harp, Roundtable Software Engineer, and Jaclyn Barnard, Roundtable Director of Business Development, highlight a number of key considerations that can help you decide if a do-it-yourself strategy is the best bet for your team.

The Cure for Chaos Daisy Chain Technology Image

As they say in IT, “The nice thing about standards is that there are so many to choose from.” Therein lies the problem. The number of choices – what they are, how they work, how they are to be implemented, integrated, managed, controlled – can be overwhelming.

When it comes to managing the development of your Progress OpenEdge application, there are a number of choices available, each offering a specialized (often very specific) contribution to the larger effort as a whole. Finding the best-of-breed for each part/function can be challenging enough. Stitching them together into a complete system is another challenge altogether.

For decades, Progress has been providing a comprehensive toolset for creating world-class enterprise applications, beginning with a programming language and relational database and expanding to adapt to new industry trends and standards. Today’s OpenEdge toolset includes a variety of components that play well together for developing modern and robust distributed applications. While the toolset for creating applications is well established, how teams define their development process and the tool(s) they use to support them is left to their own discretion.

A focused approach not only includes moving changes through defined stages of a software development lifecycle – such as unit testing, system validation, and production – but also the management of the digital assets themselves with version control and deployment packaging of both code and database schema changes to the end users. One might consider acquiring these functionalities through various third-party offerings.

This Software Configuration Management (SCM) introduction presented by Aneesh VenkataKirshnan on YouTube in 2014 highlights some of the many considerations involved in a SCM effort.  More demands have emerged since then, such as Continuous Integration and Continuous Deployment (CI/CD). 

Version control tools such as Git, Subversion, and Microsoft Team Foundation Server can help identify application assets and even help to allocate changesets to different functional areas and/or lifecycle stages. Such tools, however, know little (if anything at all) of OpenEdge compiling, dependencies, or database schema. With these general version control applications in use, one must look to other tools for those functionalities.

While database design tools are relatively plentiful, very few of them work with OpenEdge databases. For the few tools that do, even fewer have a concept of schema versions – let alone associating a set of schema changes with a set of code changes to deliver a cohesive release of an application. While these database tools may be effective, they require external processes to integrate them into the larger lifecycle management system. Often those processes are a collection of complex DIY scripts and file transfers.

A focused approach to managing a serious software development effort not only requires a clear plan for what processes it should entail but also dedicated time and effort to set them into motion and keep them in motion. In coming to a decision about which tool(s) could best support these material efforts, we ask fairly good questions: is it newer (therefore assuming it’s better), is it widely adopted, is it best-of-breed? These questions tend to be part/function focused.

Perhaps the questions that we should be asking should be more focused ensuring the integrity of the whole? Questions such as these:

  • How many third-party tools will be needed to support our plan?
  • What technologies are required for each one?
  • Are those technologies trusted, secure?
  • Do we have the expertise to implement them, maintain them?
  • Will these parts work effectively together (if at all)?
  • What gaps do we need to anticipate and fill? How will we fill them?
  • What happens if one or more tools in this process changes or goes away?

Just as Progress OpenEdge provides a comprehensive platform for creating world-class enterprise applications, Roundtable Total Software Management System (TSMS) provides a comprehensive solution for managing the ongoing development processes they entail.

Why choose to continually manage an ecosystem of isolated (and often incongruous) third-party tools, DIY scripts, and manual processes when Roundtable TSMS readily delivers full lifecycle management in a single solution? Maybe it’s time to give a total software management solution like Roundtable TSMS a look? … and with a complementary solution like buildable, you can achieve more with Roundtable TSMS than ever before.