Make Your Continuous Integration Server STRIKE FIRST and STRIKE HARD.

If automated testing is a part

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of your process, you know how much it hurts when tests fail on your master branch. Every red test on master makes it more likely that further breakages will sneak in, for several reasons:

  1. If master has failures, when you’re starting to review a feature branch, rather then relying on color recognition (red versus green), you need to use brainpower to separate “new failures” from “old failures”. Whenever you need to use your brain, there’s the chance that you might not end up with the right idea.
  2. Even if you never make mistakes, if the first in a series of assertions fails, this can prevent the rest from even running! In other words, because tests are failing, you’re now testing less than you were.
  3. Most importantly, good people have a powerful psychological need to preserve beautiful things. A pristine test suite is beautiful, and tends to motivate developers to keep it that way.

How best to keep the master branch green? You could attempt to foster an organizational appreciation that breaking master is a Very Bad Thing, in the hopes that this will make it happen less often. Some folks take this to interesting extremes, including ritual humiliation (however tongue in cheek). – Make Your Continuous Integration Server STRIKE FIRST and STRIKE HARD. – by Matthew Forsyth