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· 5 min read
Alvaro Jose

Why are messages important?

Commit messages are part of the collaboration we do day to day inside a team, it works as a record of what has happened.

Every time you perform a commit, you’re recording a snapshot of your project that you can revert to or compare to later.

— Pro Git Book

Commit messages are used in many ways, including:

  • To help a future reader quickly understand what changed and why it changed
  • To assist with easily undoing specific changes
  • To prepare change notes or bump versions for a release

All three of these use cases require a clean and consistent commit message style.

Easy Commit messages with Commitizen

This tool purpose is to define a standard way of committing rules and communicating it. The reasoning behind it is that it is easier to read, and enforces writing descriptive commits. Removing the ambiguity of options and the mental load of following the standard manually.

Commitizen will prompt you a series of questions that will generate the final commit message. It has multiple adapters, in my case I prefer to be controlling the questions, so I use cz-format-extension.

You can add commitizen to your project with the next command line

npm install commitizen --save-dev # npm
yarn add commitizen -D # Yarn

Add any of the available adapters, in my case cz-format-extension:

    npm install cz-format-extension --save-dev # npm
yarn add cz-format-extension -D # Yarn

In your package.json you will need to add the next section:

  ...
"config": {
...
"commitizen": {
"path": "cz-format-extension"
}
}
...

The Adapter cz-format-extension allows a massive flexibility as the questions can be defined in a .czfrec.js file. An example is:

const { contributors } = require('./package.json')

module.exports = {
questions({inquirer}) {
return [
{
type: "list",
name: "type",
message: "'What is the type of this change:",
choices: [
{
type: "list",
name: "type",
message: "'What is the type of this change:",
choices: [
{
"name": "feat: A new feature",
"value": "feat"
},
{
"name": "fix: A bug fix",
"value": "fix"
},
{
"name": "docs: Documentation only changes",
"value": "docs"
},
...
]
},
{
type: 'list',
name: 'scope',
message: 'What is the scope of this change:',
choices: [
{
"name": "core: base system of the application",
"value": "core"
},
{
"name": "extensions: systems that are observed",
"value": "extensions"
},
{
"name": "tools: other things in the project",
"value": "tools"
},
]
},
{
type: 'input',
name: 'message',
message: "Write a short, imperative tense description of the change\n",
validate: (message) => message.length === 0 ? 'message is required' : true
},
{
type: 'input',
name: 'body',
message: 'Provide a longer description of the change: (press enter to skip)\n',
},
{
type: 'confirm',
name: 'isBreaking',
message: 'Are there any breaking changes?',
default: false
},
{
type: 'input',
name: 'breaking',
message: 'Describe the breaking changes:\n',
when: answers => answers.isBreaking
},
{
type: 'confirm',
name: 'isIssueAffected',
message: 'Does this change affect any open issues?',
default: false
},
{
type: 'input',
name: 'issues',
message: 'Add issue references:\n',
when: answers => answers.isIssueAffected,
default: undefined,
validate: (issues) => issues.length === 0 ? 'issues is required' : true
},
{
type: 'checkbox',
name: 'coauthors',
message: 'Select Co-Authors if any:',
choices: contributors.map(contributor => ({
name: contributor.name,
value: `Co-authored-by: ${contributor.name} <${contributor.email}>`,
}))
},
]
},
commitMessage({answers}) {
const scope = answers.scope ? `(${answers.scope})` : '';
const head = `${answers.type}${scope}: ${answers.message}`;
const body = answers.body ? answers.body : '';
const breaking = answers.breaking ? `BREAKING CHANGE: ${answers.breaking}` : '';
const issues = answers.issues ? answers.issues : '';
const coauthors = answers.coauthors.join('\n');

return [head, body, breaking, issues, coauthors].join('\n\n').trim()
}
}

The file creates a process of questions for:

  • type: align with semantic release message specification
  • scope: affected part of the application
  • message: the imperative written message
  • body: longer description
  • breaking: to determine if it's a breaking change for semantic release
  • Issue: related issue of our ticketing system
  • Co-Authors: people working in the tasks while pair programming

All these questions are asked interactively and not by the brain power of doing manual work.

And you can then add some nice npm scripts in your package.json file pointing to the local version of Commitizen:

  ...
"scripts": {
"commit": "cz"
}

This will be more convenient for your users because then if they want to do a commit, all they need to do is run npm run commit and they will get the prompts needed to start a commit!

NOTE: If you are using precommit hooks thanks to something like husky, you will need to name your script something other than "commit" (e.g. "cm": "cz"). The reason is because npm scripts has a "feature" where it automatically runs scripts with the name prexxx where xxx is the name of another script. In essence, npm and husky will run "precommit" scripts twice if you name the script "commit", and the workaround is to prevent the npm-triggered precommit script.

That is all :) . I will do a special mention to commitlint that is a very useful tool to lint commit messages. I do not use it anymore as it has some overlap with commitizen.

· 3 min read
Alvaro Jose

What & Why Git hooks?

Git hooks are scripts that Git executes locally before or after events such as commit, push, and receive.

These hooks are completely programmable trough bash scripting. Examples of what can be done:

  • pre-commit: Enforce project coding standards.
  • pre-push: Run tests.

This allows us to make sure we are committing the correct things at the correct time. Not breaking our code just because of the mental load of doing things as a manual process that can be forgotten.

How to Start

Add Husky

Husky is a tool that allows Git hooks using JavaScript configured using individual files for hooks in a .husky/ directory.

The fastest way to install husky is by using husky-init, a one-time command to quickly initialize a project with husky:

npx husky-init && npm install       # npm
npx husky-init && yarn # Yarn 1
yarn dlx husky-init --yarn2 && yarn # Yarn 2+
pnpm dlx husky-init && pnpm install # pnpm

It will set up husky, modify package.json and create a sample pre-commit hook that you can edit. By default, it will run test when you commit.

To add another hook, use husky add.

If you are not comfortable using husky-init you can find other options here.

Add lint-staged

Husky is very useful, but it will run natively to git and not focus the commands in our bash scripts for all the files, not only the ones we want to commit.

Lint Staged appear to resolve this problem. It allows you to run the process against staged git files that match a pattern.

asciicast

Install lint-staged by adding it to your local project.

npm install lint-staged --save-dev
yarn add lint-staged -D

In your package.json add it as a script("lint-staged": "lint-staged",) and refer it through a pre-commit hook. If using Husky, this can be found in .husky/pre-commit with the next content:

#!/bin/sh
. "$(dirname "$0")/_/husky.sh"

yarn lint-staged

There are multiple ways to configure lint-staged. One of them is having a lint-staged.config.js file in your project root folder. In this file, you can express what process you want to run for what types of files. For example:

module.exports = {
'*.{ts,tsx}': [() => 'yarn tsc:check', 'yarn format', 'yarn lint:fix', 'yarn test', 'git add .'],
};

The previous snipped runs the compiler check, formatting, linting and test before adding the fixed staged files to the current commit.

Conclusion

With this two tools, we will now be pushing code that will pass similar checks than our CI/CD system.

· 4 min read
Alvaro Jose

Over the last few years, some practices appear to be more a dogma than a value adding practice. One of this is Pull Requests.

Why PR's exist

  • Malicious Code Prevention: Pull requests exist mostly as a practice accepted for zero trust environments (ex. Open Source). An attack vector on this type of environment is the ability of anyone to contribute, meaning you could inject code that could create known vulnerabilities that packages will inherit. That is why maintainers validate code from unknown users.

Malicious actors

  • Highly Distributed Teams: PR's can be use for highly distributed teams (around the clock) as a way to do knowledge sharing. If someone in side A of the world can follow and understand the changes for a feature that is being developed in side B of the world.

Distributed Teams

The issue

IS there any value of doing PRs when people work collocated? What is the cost of PRs in trust environments?

The value that normally people give to PRs is the one of having a peer review process. Nevertheless, we will see later in this article that there are less invasive ways to do this.

Some costs of PRs are:

  • Slow Delivery: PRs are a start and stop strategy where there is a gateway to merge code. This is time that needs to be taken by developers (writting & preparing a PR) and reviewers (reviewing, commenting, etc) to go through the process. At the same time is more time the code takes to get to production (merging, re-testing, etc). This is significant for features but also for fixes, meaning you can go from a response time of minutes to hours.
  • Isolation work: When working on branches, devs work on code that works isolated but needs to be merged with a continuous stream of changes. This means that any test isolated will probably be invalidated upon merging.
  • Lack of ownership: As work is done isolated, the developer who creates a PR delegates part or the responsibility to the reviewer. Humans don't have compilers or containers to run the code in our brain, meaning catching errors tends to be out of our realm.
  • Egos: As catching errors tends to be out of our human realm, PRs tend to become a thing related to preferences (Style, patterns, etc). This hardly provides any value to the code as either tools like linters can do this automatically or it brings premature optimizations.
  • Late feedback: Any valid recommendation is actually provided quite late in the process, when the code has already been written and validated. Causing rework that takes time.

The Alternatives

Pull requests are just one of the asynchronous peer code reviews styles. Is not the only way of doing peer reviews.

Some other types of peer reviews that I, personally, like are:

  • Over-the-shoulder: The bases of this is to have a conversation over what has been or is being implemented. This creates a synchronous feedback loop on an async process. It does not fix all the shortcomings of a PR, but it creates a faster feedback loop.
  • Pair Programming / Mob Programming: The idea is that multiple developers work in the same code base in the same computer, creating a synchronous feedback loop in a synchronous process. This with Trunk-based development allows very fast feedback loops at product level, and with the correct tools generates resilience and ownership among developers.

The disclaimer here is I have worked doing pair programming, TDD and trunk-based development for more than 5 years in multiple size companies, and it has always been a bliss.