16 Jul 07

Screeching Animatronic Monkeys

Suppose you’ve just launched a new web application. Being a savvy automator, you decide to set up monitors for significant system events like, say, new users signing up. Now it’s always good to pick a physical device that gives visual or audible feedback that in some way matches the logical event you’re monitoring. So what kind of feedback goes along with a new user signing up?

Ian Bishrey couldn’t exactly wire up a human, so he went with the next best thing: a screeching Wowwee Alive! Monkey.

You know you want one of these on your project, and Ian has instructions and code for how he hacked the remote controller and wrote a Java-based serial interface (with tests) to send commands to the animatronic monkeys.

In the email he sent, Ian concluded by stating matter of factly "Using the remote means we can control an army of chimps simultaneously." I had to read that sentence a couple times, and each time the mental images got progressively more frightening. Added to which, Ian mentioned in passing that they also use the monkeys to give feedback on "low NLP linguistic classification confidence score events". So to summarize, we have a web 2.0 application that’s taking on new users and in some way processing natural languages, all being monitored by a potential army of monkeys.

You know, when I challenged readers of the automation book to find creative ways to monitor their software projects, I never imagined it could come to this…

29 Mar 07

Gleaning Project Feedback

You know you want to extract useful information from your project in an automated way, but which tools should you use and how much configuration will they take?

John Brugge has taken a number of popular open-source tools and knitted them together for you. He’s calling it Glean, and his goal is to help your project get quick and easy feedback by simply dropping Glean into your build system. It’s analogous to Maven plugins, but aimed at projects using Ant, and less ambitious.

Currently Glean includes scripts to drive the following tools:

  • CPD (copy/paste detector)
  • Emma (code coverage)
  • JavaNCSS (source code metrics)
  • PMD (static analysis)
  • StatSVN (Subversion repository activity analysis)
  • UMLGraph (generates UML class diagrams from code)
  • … and about a dozen more

The download includes basic documentation on how to set up Glean to run against a source tree, as well as sample configurations for a handful of open-source projects.

John packaged up Glean to scratch an itch for his clients, and he’s offering it back to the community as a token of appreciation for all the open-source tools. Glean is distributed under an MIT license.


29 Aug 06


Chumby looks to be an ideal device for monitoring automation in and around projects.

22 Aug 06

Adding an RSS Feed to Subversion

Bill Bumgarner expertly steps you through how to hook in an RSS feed to a local Subversion server.

20 Aug 06

More CVS Monitoring

cvslog2web lets you monitor CVS activity through RSS and web output.

30 Jul 06

CruiseControl Yahoo Widget

The CruiseControl Yahoo Widget lets you monitor multiple projects with an animated lava lamp.

29 Nov 05

SwitchTower as an Automated Deployment Archetype

SwitchTower is an archetype of automated deployment. Check it out before rolling your own solution.

28 Oct 05

When Build Silence Is Golden

Yet another build frequency chart, this time with good news.

10 Oct 05

CruiseControl 2.3.1 Released

CruiseControl 2.3.1 was released today with an enviable display of nips and tucks.

02 Sep 05

Another Build Frequency Inkblot

Here’s another build frequency chart with an interesting story to tell.

31 Aug 05

What's Your Build Frequency, Kenneth?

Use this chart in the CruiseControl metrics tab to monitor the frequency of scheduled builds.

30 Aug 05

Visualizing Commit Trends

What do these charts of source code repository activity imply? I have no idea, but I find them fascinating.

28 Aug 05

CruiseControl 2.3 Released

CruiseControl 2.3 has a goodly amount of new features and plugins.

20 Aug 05

Rake: Not Your Father's Build Language

Martin Fowler has written an excellent article describing the strengths of using Rake as a build language, and how it compares to our old friends make and Ant.

18 Aug 05

Is Your Build Agile?

SD Times just posted a new article concerning lengthy builds siphoning energy off agile processes.