Monday, August 6, 2012

New job!

I started a new job last month! I'm managing my department's just-formed test engineering group. The group has eight people in both Burnaby and Montreal and we're responsible for developing and maintaining our build farm, performing integration testing, developing/implementing new (for the department) testing processes, and auditing current test coverage. Basically if it's related to testing, and it's something more complicated than running the unit tests, this group will be involved.

I'm really excited about the opportunities that are on the horizon. I started at EA over 10 years ago as a game tester and started as a developer in this group's long dead predecessor doing clear box software testing, so it's in a way like coming home. Since it's removed from the secret squirrel work that I was working on before I will also be a lot more free to talk about what I'm doing.

The first couple weeks on the job were spent getting to know the people, getting to know the work, and setting up a plan where I want the group to go over the next 12 months. As the people on the team aren't new, just repurposed from other groups, most of the work they do in the short term isn't going to change. Longer term the goal is to have detach from their old teams so that they can focus more on the work our department does as a whole.

I'm not going to give up coding quite yet. I've currently got my sights set on our build farm and its reporting infrastructure. It's been cobbled together out of a number of shell/build scripts and it's creaking. One of the more recent additions to the group, Dave, is tackling both this and the database back end to make the system more reliable and easier to report on.

I hate SharePoint.

The web dashboard is built on SharePoint. I suppose there's some sort of redeeming quality I haven't yet seen because apparently a lot of people pay a lot of money for the product but deep down I sincerely doubt it. Anyways, the rationale of our build web dashboard using SharePoint is that there is a need to keep some platforms hidden from the world while they are covered by NDAs -- but the rest of the baggage SharePoint has brought means it takes 20 seconds to retrieve the "current status" web page. If you want to filter this information -- which is pretty common for most people as our group supports 150+ libraries built in 40+ configurations, making a status table pretty useless to get your desired information -- it hits the server again, which means waiting another 20 seconds.

I despise SharePoint.

I've started the process of removing Sharepoint completely and instead use some simple scripts to pull the information from the database and authenticate it via LDAP. I moved the rendering client-side, using jQuery and Bootstrap for a little style. Page load is now down to ~2 seconds with most of it being spent in database queries, and that should remedy itself when Dave's finished his schema rework.

The site is much easier to work on now. Deploying the new pages is handled by syncing them from Perforce. Since all the UI code is in Javascript most of it can be tweaked locally on the desktop without having to setup a local server. Or find the one machine that we have a SharePoint developer environment installed on and without colliding with someone else who also needs to use it, and then package+deploy your changes to the production servers hoping that the servers don't barf on your changes leading you to get a nastygram from IT.

Have I mentioned that I hate SharePoint?

I hope to finish the web page updates this week. Once that's done I have to work on a metrics solution for our console unit tests and dig back into valgrind.

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