Published on

Trunk-based Development: Simplifying Software Development

Authors

Introduction

Trunk-based development is a method of software development that is centered on a single, central code repository known as the "trunk." Developers in this paradigm work on the trunk at the same time, committing changes and collaborating in real time. This differs from other branching methods, such as Gitflow, in which developers work on distinct branches before merging their modifications into the main branch.

Trunk-based development has a number of advantages over typical branching approaches. One of the primary advantages is speedier deployment. Because all development work is done on the trunk, code updates may be sent to production more quickly because no code from other branches must be merged. Furthermore, because developers are working on the same codebase at the same time, trunk-based development facilitates collaboration. This can result in fewer disputes and a more efficient process.

Despite its advantages, trunk-based development can be difficult to execute, especially for teams used to working with traditional branching models. Trunk-based development, with the correct tactics in place, such as continuous integration and testing, can be a strong tool for boosting software development productivity and cooperation.

Background

Trunk-based development dates back to the early days of version control systems, when developers would work on a single codebase and commit changes to the trunk directly. For many years, this was common practice; but, as software development became more complicated and teams became larger, the need for more robust branching models arose.

Gitflow, which was established in 2010, was one of the most popular branching models to emerge. Gitflow is built around the concept of a central "main" branch and many "feature" branches. Developers work on their own feature branches and merge their modifications into the main branch when they are finished.

Trunk-based development, on the other hand, is a relatively contemporary strategy that has gained favor in recent years; it is built on the concept of having a single, central code repository on which all developers work concurrently. There are no feature branches in this model, and all code changes are committed directly to the trunk. This method is more efficient since it avoids the need to merge code from various branches.

Implementation

Implementing trunk-based development needs some discipline and forethought. The following are some measures that can assist teams in successfully using this development model:

  1. Implement a clear code review process: With all developers working on the same codebase, a clear code review procedure is important. This can aid in ensuring that code changes are thoroughly examined before being submitted to the trunk.

  2. Implement continuous integration and testing: Continuous integration and testing are critical to trunk-based development because they can detect conflicts and problems before they reach the trunk.

  3. Use feature flags: Feature flags enable teams to deliver code to production while keeping it hidden from end users. This can assist teams in properly deploying code changes to the trunk without interfering with users.

  4. Establish a hotfix procedure: In the event of a critical bug, teams should have a process in place to quickly resolve the issue without interfering with ongoing development work. This procedure may include the usage of feature flags to distribute the hotfix to a subset of users.

  5. Train the team: For trunk-based development to be successful, you must have a team that understands the approach and is willing to work in this manner. It is critical to train the team on best practices, methods, and the process of resolving problems.

Overall, implementing trunk-based development requires some discipline and planning, but when done correctly, it can be a powerful tool for boosting software development efficiency and collaboration.

Best practices

To ensure the success of trunk-based development, teams should adhere to the following best practices:

  1. Continuous Integration (CI): Continuous integration is a methodology that enables teams to recognize and handle integration issues as soon as they arise. Teams may catch and repair bugs before they reach the trunk by automating the build and test procedures.

  2. Continuous Testing (CT): Continuous testing is a strategy that enables teams to notice and resolve problems as soon as possible. Teams can catch and repair bugs before they reach the trunk by automating the test processes.

  3. Code Review: In trunk-based development, code review is a fundamental activity. Teams may discover and address bugs early and ensure high-quality code by having other developers review code changes before they are pushed to the trunk.

  4. Test-Driven Development (TDD): TDD is a practice in which teams must write tests before producing code. This ensures that code updates are adequately tested and that errors are discovered early.

  5. Feature Flags: Using feature flags, teams can deliver code to production while keeping it hidden from end users. This can assist teams in properly deploying code changes to the trunk without interfering with users.

  6. Continuous Deployment: The process of automatically deploying code changes to production as soon as they are committed to the trunk is known as continuous deployment. This enables teams to deliver code updates more quickly and with fewer errors.

  7. Embrace Pair Programming: Pair programming is a practice in which two developers collaborate at a single workstation, with one typing and the other examining the code. This can be a useful method for detecting and resolving issues early on.

By adhering to these best practices, teams may assure the success of trunk-based development and the full testing, review, and deployment of code changes in a timely and efficient manner.

Conclusion

Finally, trunk-based development is a software development methodology that is built on a single, central code repository known as the "trunk." This architecture has various advantages over typical branching models, including faster deployment and simpler cooperation. Implementing trunk-based development, on the other hand, can be difficult, especially for teams used to working with traditional branching models. Teams should build a clear code review process, implement continuous integration and testing, apply feature flags, be prepared for conflicts, have a hotfix procedure, and train the team on best practices to be successful with trunk-based development. Teams and organizations can reap the benefits of trunk-based development by adopting the tactics mentioned in this article.