At the Atlassian Atlas Camp in Barcelona today, the company has announced an extension to its cloud-based Bitbucket code repository. Called the Bitbucket Pipelines platform its aim is: “…to provide teams with entire continuous delivery workflows from source to deployment in the cloud”
In the keynote Jens Schumacher, Group Product Manager Software Teams, Atlassian told the audience: “..it’s about making things simpler. Teams don’t often work well together. They are in different locations and there are walls between them. We need to break down those walls to achieve continuous delivery.”
Schumacher went on to say: “Continuous development is not easy to do. It can be complex to set up, there is generally a poor developer experience, a need to integrate multiple tools and the feedback loop is slow.” The cause for all of this, according to Schumacher is the walls between the various people and roles in the teams.
Bitbucket Pipelines platform to bring the tools together
This is where the announcement of Bitbucket Pipelines platform comes in. Schumacher describes it as: “One tool, one platform.” The idea is that all the tools and users sit inside the same platform. Schumacher continued: “This means a faster feedback loop so that changes and test results are visible to everyone immediately.”
So what makes this different from the work that Microsoft has done with Visual Studio, Team Foundation and Skype? According to Schumacher Atlassian doesn’t care what platform you want to deploy on. To some degree Microsoft is getting there but Schumacher thinks it has a long way to go if it wants to be seen as an open platform rather than a “deploy to Windows first” platform.
There are other players with a stake in this game as well. Serena and IBM for example. Like Atlassian they talk a lot about continuous processes and have a wider portfolio of tools. What they don’t have is a social media and collaboration tools that are as well integrated as Atlassian.
Improving the configuration for test teams
A new feature announced on stage by Schumacher was ‘Configuration as Code’. At first sight this sounds as if the developers are closing the DevOps loop. Schumacher was quick to tell us that this isn’t the case. He says: “Configuration as a code, the part we focus on, defines the pipeline not the environment. It’s about configuring the image that will be used for testing and the branches that are going to be tested.”
This is important and actually moves Atlassian closer to some of the bigger players than you might think. While everyone has focused on continuous integration and continuous delivery, few companies have really addressed continuous testing. Those that do tend to look at it from the perspective of providing test routines that are designed before the coding begins and submitting code for automated testing.
By focusing on the right configuration for the test environment developers are able to speed up the test process. As we move towards containers this has another benefit. Schumacher says that testing is done using Docker images. Delivering the code in a Docker image is only one step from delivering it to production in the same image if it passes testing. It is simply a workflow process and it will be interesting to see when Atlassian decides that it can take that next step.
Open API Initiative and RADAR
One of the interesting announcements in the keynote and one that was understated was the news that Atlassian intends to join the Open API Initiative. This is good news for its existing customers as it will add a greater level of integration with other APIs and widen its potential customer base. In order to do that it needs to change the way it documents it products.
In order to bring its documentation in line with the Open API Initiative Atlassian is changing the way it deals with its own documentation. It is releasing a custom site generator called RADAR. This is intended to automatically document APIs and if successful it will be interesting to see how quickly it can drive it into a wider audience.
In a Q&A session with Sri Viswanath, CTO, Atlassian, he said: “We are already using RADAR to document our own APIs. We will be open sourcing the product so that it is available to other companies to use as they want.”
There are a lot of companies at the moment who are looking to release their internal code as APIs. More importantly they want to make those APIs available to both their partners and their ecosystem so that they can develop new apps using those APIs. One of the challenges is not just cleaning up the code and ensuring that it is safe and reliable but documenting that code. Documentation is always the poor relation in any development environment so a tool to document APIs will unquestionably get attention.
These are just two of the announcements from this first day keynote which were well received by the audience. There is no question that Atlassian are very bullish about the future and are keen to extend the reach of their development platform.
The one question that customers will have about the Bitbucket Pipelines platform is that while Atlassian has said it will be free during the beta phase they have not said what customers can expect to pay when it finally ships. Many will no doubt be hoping that it will come initially as a free upgrade but everyone was stopping short of that promise.
The move to support the Open API Initiative (OAI) is a key step going forward. Atlassian is opening up its tools API by API. By committing to the OAI it is reassuring customers and partners that it is in this for the long haul. It also sends a message that the future is about integration not proprietary solutions.