Release Wednesday

I’m glad that someone else is adopting Release Wednesdays. I was surprised to see the post from Red Gate, though I shouldn’t have been. I knew we were releasing regularly and some groups were aiming for weekly releases. There was easily a 1 in 7 chance of them choosing Wednesdays, which has a special meaning for me.

I worked at a startup company where we released every Wednesday. We worked in one week increments and developed an application across a couple years that evolved and morphed to meet differing business needs in the education market. We went from working with digital sales, to including physical products, to subscriptions. Our customers went from individuals to corporations, to departments in corporations, and all along the way we managed front end and database changes in one (or sometimes two) week increments.

We didn’t practice Agile or Scrum or anything formal. We worked as closely as 10 people could, coordinating and communicating to get features implemented every week. We started releasing on Wednesday nights with the lead developer and myself staying late at the office Wednesday nights (usually with another developer or two for company) for an hour. That was reduced to phone calls where we deployed from home (and fixed problems) in real time. Eventually we built such a well engineered process, with thorough testing, that our deployments were completed in minutes with a few chat messages to verify we’d both finished our tasks.

We did that for over 18 months with only one or two rollbacks, and without the all night frantic coding sessions to fix issues that I’d experienced elsewhere. It wasn’t simple, but it wasn’t hard. It required preparation, planning, a strong culture of professionalism, and support from our CTO.

I see the same types of culture at Red Gate, and I’m not surprised by the rapid releases, nor the success we’re having in evolving, updating, and patching our products over time. I’m excited to see how much quicker we can move and how we will continue to build better software, faster. 

One Wednesday at a time.

Steve Jones

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