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Dragoș Străinu

My biggest Pull Request

development2 min read

The story

I was working on a white-label mobile application in active development. (If you plan to develop a white-label mobile app, JUST DON'T!!! 😅 But this is a story for another post.) I implemented a BIG FEATURE that was very tightly coupled with back-end implementation.

The PRs were created, reviewed, and approved by front-end and back-end teams. Everything was tested, some small bugs were found, I fixed them and was ready for merging to master branch. But some severe bugs and priority features had to be done, so the back-end developer had to switch working on them and the back-end implementation was not shipped in production.

I didn't want to merge my commits in master branch, as the implementation in back-end may be changed after addition of other requirements and decided to wait until the back-end developer will be free and ready to merge his implementations.

I thought that the feature will be shipped the week after.

Meanwhile, I started working on the next feature that was based on the BIG FEATURE. When I finished I didn't create a new PR in master branch as the feature2 branch included changes from feature10. After a week I asked the back-end developer about the status with BIG FEATURE shipment to production, but he was busy with other tasks and as the app was in active development I continued developing on top of big-feature branch.

I was working alone in that repo and the front-end devs were helping me only with pair programming or opinions on feature implementations. No one needed my changes and I took the easy path of just working on features/bugs and creating builds directly for testers and onboarding clients.

Time has passed, the back-end developer forgot about the BIG FEATURE. I was working on features and bug fixes. feature5, feature10, feature13, bugfix12, refactor2 branches were all created on top of big-feature branch.

One day I understood that the PR in master branch will be an ENORMOUS lesson for me and the team. Another developer joined the project so I created a new dev branch from feature16 and for the last 2 weeks, we created and reviewed PRs in dev branch.

Finally after 140 days from the beginning of BIG FEATURE the back-end implementation was merged and shipped to prod.

And I was ready for my biggest Pull Request (so far).

The Pull Request

bitbucket-warn

It was so big that BitBucket couldn't display it. The only way to review it was by checking each commit separately or maybe using a desktop git client. Additional complexity added mobile-specific files that were generated by XCode and Android Studio.

Stats:

  • 420 files changed, 25739 insertions(+), 19429 deletions(-)
    Beside 420 files maybe 20-40 files were added and removed in between.
  • Changes from 140 days
  • 163 commits
  • 36 intermediary branches

In the end, I received 3 approves and only one comment.

"Omg" - Tech Lead (implemented the back-end for BIG FEATURE)

Lessons learned

  • Make small PRs.
  • One feature | bug-fix | refactor per PR.
  • If the PRs includes several features squash commits to have one commit per feature
    and let the team review each commit separately.
  • Don’t squash everything.
    Let styling/formatting commits be separate from implementation commits.
  • Create temporary-master branches
    If features relay on other features that are not in master. Or you are working on a BIG FEATURE, divide BIG FEATURE in big-feature-phase-1, big-feature-phase-2. Create temporary branches like dev and make PRs in dev.
  • Create "Fix PR comments" commits and then squash them.
    If PR is big and you have several comments, fix them in a separate commit and let reviewers check only it. After approval squash "Fix PR comments" commit in previous feature commit.
  • Be kind to your reviewers.
  • Make small PRs.
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