Mark Stephens

Mark Stephens has been working with Java and PDF since 1999 and has diversified into HTML5, SVG and JavaFX.

He also enjoys speaking at conferences and has been a Speaker at user groups, Business of Software, Seybold and JavaOne conferences. He has a very dry sense of humor and an MA in Medieval History for which he has not yet found a practical use.

FogBugz and Kiln World tour 2011 hits London

2 min read

Fogbugz World tour made its second stop at London today, in the conference room at the Oval Cricket ground (clever move to book a venue in a Sport at which the British are currently doing well and has a strong feel-good factor but best avoided when you get to Australia).

After coffee/biscuits and the chance to chat with other fogcreek customers Joel launched straight into his presentation. Shaking off his jetlag (or was that one too many pints of Guiness in Dublin yesterday), he gave a brilliant demonstration of the latest fogbugz and Kiln releases, mixed with his humour and anocdotes.

The talk began with software countdown clock which crashed in a bluescreen of death. Joel showed how he could use Fogbugz to raise the bug for his developers. His developer responded he was too busy with other tasks, so Joel used fogbugz to check the workload, and yes he was swamped.

So Joel used Kiln to checkout and fix the code himself which he resubmitted. The seemless integration of the 2 products was clear with the code changes linked to the case and totally integrated. An especially cool feature was that code reviews effectively become cases to be done when convenient and not an interruption for developers.

Having ‘fixed’ the bug, Joel gave us a rundown of features in fogbugz. There was a Powerpoint presentation with some slight jibes at ‘the marketing department’ (I loved the picture of them all whitewater rafting and the totally meaningless ‘mission statements’) and lots of useful feature details.

There was also some serious and not so serious comparsions between fogbugz and Excel, Mantis, and Heroin users (surprising amount in common especially issues with dependency and lack of access). He also showed the updated Wiki in Fogbugz 8.0 and mentioned the new plugins.

One of the best things about these sessions is that you learn lots of little features you can pretend you always knew and impress others with. For example, did you know:-
1. You can now edit comments in fogbugz (old version is still there if needed).
2. You can use tomorrow as a date and it will be converted into the correct date.
3. You can manually add subcases as well as case on the main list.
4. You can see the cases summarized in lots of ways including bar charts and pie charts.
5. Fogbugz also includes timesheets.

Joel also spent some time showing the features of Kiln which uses Mercurial, adding fogbugz integration and lots of useful features. For example Kiln will avoid copying large binary files until needed, making it much more usable for developers working with movies or other large files.

Joel was followed by of of the chief developers of Kiln. He spent half his time providing a ‘Mercurial 101’ course for beginners and explaining the benefitis of DVCS (like speed, ease of branching). This was followed by an example of Bert and Ernie, those 2 hardcore developers from Sesame street, using Mercurial ┬áto develop a time web application.

If you want to learn more, have a look at http://hginit.com (a witty and informative introduction by Joel) and http://kiln.stackexchange.com (the place to ask questions). It was clear from the presentation that Fogcreek had learnt a great deal from using Mercurial internally and put this knowledge to good use in Kiln.

A particular attraction of Mercurial is that it makes it very easy to branch and merge versions and this has been made very simple in Kiln. You can see a list of changes between branches and just choose which to copy across, making bespoke or test/frozen version very straight-forward.

One thing I initially found counter-intuitive (but makes sense now), is that if you fix a bug, you should always fix it in the earliest version and then copy it into later versions (it does not work the other way) rather than fix in latest and back-port.

It also came out in questions that Mercurical was chosen over Git because it has been Windows support and the team thought it was easier for beginners to get to grips with.

It was a very worthwhile morning and I can now say that I ‘get’ DVCS. So thanks guys for coming all that way to show us the tools. What did you think of the talk? Have you tried out DVCS?

You can checkout fogbugz and Kiln for yourself at http://www.fogcreek.com/

Mark Stephens

Mark Stephens has been working with Java and PDF since 1999 and has diversified into HTML5, SVG and JavaFX.

He also enjoys speaking at conferences and has been a Speaker at user groups, Business of Software, Seybold and JavaOne conferences. He has a very dry sense of humor and an MA in Medieval History for which he has not yet found a practical use.

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