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Someone recently asked me if I knew of any good configuration management books. I have to confess I that I don't often buy books these days (I have a bookshelf full of books I've never gotten around to reading!) but one book I did buy recently and have been reading is :

Software Configuration Management Patterns - Effective Teamwork, Practial Integration - by Stephen P. Berczuk & Brad Appleton.

The book deals with (as you would expect from the title) patterns for configuration management. It has certainly made me stop and take a look at my development environment and practices. The book covers a lot of ground, with a heavy emphisis on version control best practices, but also topics such as automated builds, unit testing etc.

Chapter 9 - “Integration Build“ talks about the need to do centralised builds, as often as possible. Interestingly, the authors suggest that the centralised builds be “as close as possible to the final product build“ - which is something I'm always saying and is where I got the name FinalBuilder from!

One of the topics that comes up on the FinalBuilder newsgroups quite often is how to manage third party components, managing different versions etc. Chapter 10 - “Third Party Codeline” has some nice ideas I'm starting to put in to practice here. I use a lot of third party components as well as some of my own, and managing the different versions etc can be a bit a of a nightmare.

Another thing the authors focus on in Chapter 6 is the use of “Private Workspaces” for individual developers (and is a pattern that gets coverage throughout the rest of the book). In essence, a Private Workspace is a private branch in your version control. I like this idea a lot, unfortunately branching is still (imho) an area that is still too difficult to use in most version control systems (something I'll post about on another day).

I'd have to give this book a “Highly Recommended” rating.

Another book I have on order is “Coder to Developer: Tools and Strategies for Delivering Your Software“ - by Mike Gunderloy. Mike's an avid FinalBuilder user and has written about it a few times before for MCP magazine and ADTMag.com, so it will be an interesting book to read. I'll post some comments here when I finally get it in my hands (incredibly, it takes 2 weeks for amazon to ship to Australia, a message in a bottle wouldn't take that long!).


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