In today's development landscape, local testing of code has become increasingly challenging, especially in setups that involve microservices. As the architecture grows more intricate, dependencies multiply, and applications become more challenging to run locally, developers face a daunting task to ensure their code works seamlessly in such environments.
To address this issue, it is important to understand the challenges developers face in testing their code locally. These challenges are broadly classified into three categories for OLTP systems:
Ephemeral Environments or Environment-as-a-Service (EaaS) are often proposed as solutions to the challenges of local testing in microservices. EaaS solutions offer distinct setups for each developer or pull request. This can be a scalable approach to address the issue, as it allows developers to test their code in a consistent environment that mirrors the production environment.
While this method might seem straightforward at first glance, implementing it effectively can be complex. Solutions, such as launching copies of microservices in Kubernetes for every pull request, might not fully address all the complexities involved. The substantial challenge comes in managing aspects like routing, service discovery, shared databases, and complex dependencies. Handling these tasks individually can be a significant undertaking for developers, making it crucial to explore other potentially more manageable solutions.
An alternative solution, especially for those using Kubernetes, involves setting up a shared Dev environment. In this environment, all services run versions that mirror their Quality Assurance (QA) counterparts – essentially stable, testable versions of the services. It is the joint responsibility of the team to keep this environment stable.
All feature development should occur locally, with developers performing rigorous testing until their work is ready to merge into the mainline codebase, often referred to as the 'master' branch. This approach is key to maintaining a shared Dev environment.
With that in mind, let's explore how local development would unfold within this shared Dev environment:
In the shared Dev environment, the ability for concurrent, non-interfering development is a significant advantage, especially with Frontend applications and REST or SOAP APIs. Multiple developers can interact with the shared Dev cluster simultaneously. However, this is different for Private RPC microservices. Given the fact that only one sink can be active at a time, it necessitates an environment leasing process per such service, requiring coordination among team members. Despite this, the significant advantages - such as enhanced debugging capabilities and a streamlined local setup - make this approach a worthwhile strategy for managing these complex services..
Another potential challenge with this approach arises when multiple features in backend development might necessitate different database schemas. However, it's important to remember two things: firstly, not every feature will induce changes to the schema. Secondly, any schema-level changes should be thoroughly considered and implemented before the development itself and should reach the QA environment ahead of the development. Adhering to these principles ensures that there will be no conflicts when merging code from different features down the line, thereby maintaining the integrity and efficiency of the development process.
While Ephemeral environments or Environment-as-a-Service (EaaS) offer a solution for local testing, they may not be the best fit for all, due to potential complexity and cost considerations. By understanding the challenges associated with different types of applications and adopting a shared development environment approach in Kubernetes, developers can effectively test their code locally, streamline the development process, and enhance collaboration within their teams. This approach, combined with tools like Telepresence, offers a more cost-effective and manageable solution for local code testing and debugging.
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