I don’t want to get into the whys and wherefores just yet; I’d like to start with the assumption that branches exist in your TFS ALM implementation.
You may not be comfortable with those branches though.
You may feel that too much cost is involved in ‘using’ those branches! The cost of merging, the cost of creating new branches, the cost of updating build definitions and the cost of increased complexity.
Any two branches have a relationship and this relationship has a cost.
The simple reason is that branches split up code. Code that represents a single product. Code that is the product.
Your live service and website is at any point in time derived from a particular singular unique set of code. Same goes for the DVD that has your latest product on it or the product download site.
However, no two ways about this; split code is a copy of code that can then be changed and will then be different from where it was copied from. That difference should only exist for a particular clearly defined purpose. So a purposeful change would be to check in code related to a Task. Hopefully that Task would be related to a Product Backlog Item which has been added to a Sprint. These workitems are in the MS Scrum 2.0/2.1 which is is the default process template in TFS 2012.
Branches serve a purpose; but they need to be thought about very carefully.
A set of code will exist that represents a live product and this live code is usually separated from any changes that will be taking place; such as a piece of development work or a spike of R&D. It seems sensible to keep a copy of that live code safe so that it can be used for any patches that need to be made to the live product to keep it going before the next release.
We could get into the detail of what a main branch is and if a live branch exists or not. But rather than dwell on that too much I’d rather have us say for the moment that there are branches involved and you are merging code between them.
I’m going to list a few topics as points that I think can improve branch quality and throughput efficiency, in future editions of this blog I’ll try take these topics a step further.
Not sure yet which would be a good topic to start on, but I’m open to suggestions!
Some topics are related and so will get bundled together.
Branching topics (In no particular order):
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