# Saturday, 26 February 2011
Hannes raises a great question about Change Sets in my previous blog post on Release Management.

"One thing I really like about the deployment connections are, that you have a deployment history right in your salesforce live-org. With comments and an insight into the packages.

Which pros do you see as for deploying with the ant script?"

We occasionally use change sets at Facebook. The decision to use Ant vs. Change Sets is akin to a Vi vs. Emacs religious war. They both accomplish the same thing, just in different ways.

General best practice guidelines:
  • Initial deployments of new custom applications are much easier using Change Sets
  • Incremental deployments are more easily managed using Ant
The decision to standardize on Ant packages is largely for compliance reasons. When there is a need to internally document who changed what and when, a SVN repository of all changes with author and reviewer notes satisfies most compliance requirements (such as Sarbanes-Oxley)

Some high level thoughts on the 2 approaches:
  • Some metadata simply is not packageable via Ant, therefore Change Sets must be used
  • The dependency checker in the Change Set packager, while not 100% perfect, is much more reliable than manually adding 100+ individual components
  • In the absence of an IT-Engineer who can create Ant packages, business process owners and non-technical users always have the fallback option of using change sets
  • Prior to Spring '11, invalid inbound change sets could not be deleted, resulting in an accumulation of cruft
  • The ability to delete deployed change sets in Spring '11 removes the ability to audit change history (a compliance violation)
  • The ephemeral nature of some sandboxes means constantly re-establishing deployment connections.
Saturday, 26 February 2011 10:07:06 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
# Monday, 21 February 2011
Managing the release of Force.com changes in a fast paced environment requires an agile development methodology with a focus on:
  1. Continuous Integration - Support daily deployments
  2. Minimalism - Incrementally deploy only what is needed, and nothing more
  3. Reliability - Changes should be 100% backwards compatible and not break existing functionality
The Force.com Migration Tool is a key component to a successful release management process.

Release Management Overview
  • Start the refresh of a sandbox named "staging"
  • Package a release using Eclipse
  • Create an ant package and validate the deployment against the staging sandbox
  • Deploy the changes to production
It's assumed that standard change approvals, code review, and user acceptance testing have already taken place prior to these steps.

Setting Up The Environment

(Note: The following examples are all using Macbook Bash shell. The windows shell counterparts for making directories and copying files are very similar)

Download the Force.com Migration Tool and unzip to a temp directory.

Create a directory for managing ANT deployment packages named something like "changes". Copy the ant-salesforce.jar file to this directory. (It may be easier to manage changes from within the Eclipse workspace folder)

This directory will contain 2 files used by all releases.

Manually create the sforce.properties file from the following template.
# sforce.properties

# =================== Sandbox Org Credentials ===============
sandbox.username	= user@domain.com.staging
sandbox.password	= password
sandbox.url			= https://test.salesforce.com

# =================== Package Deployment Credentials ================
deploy.username		= user@domain.com
deploy.password		= password
deploy.url			= https://login.salesforce.com

# Use 'https://login.salesforce.com' for production or developer edition (the default if not specified).
# Use 'https://test.salesforce.com for sandbox.
Creating the Deployment Package

The Force.com Migration Tool expects a structured directory that includes a package.xml file describing the changes to be deployed. You can manually create this structure but it's far easier to let Eclipse create the package for you.

1) Begin by opening Eclipse and starting a new Force.com project.

2) Give the project a change-specific name and provide connection credentials to the source development environment (not production).

3) When given the option to choose initial project contents, check the "Selected metadata components" option and click "Choose..."

4) Expand the component tree folders and select only the components to be deployed (see principle #2 on minimalism. "Deploy only what is needed, and nothing more")

5) You should now have a project in the structure required by the Force.com migration tool

6) Create a new sub-directory under the changes directory; in this case named CHG12345; and copy the 'src' directory to this folder.
mkdir ~/Documents/workspace/changes/CHG12345
cp -r ~/Documents/workspace/CHG12345/src ~/Documents/workspace/changes/CHG12345

7) Copy the following ant build.xml template to the change directory.

<project name="Salesforce Package Deployment Script" default="usage" basedir="." xmlns:sf="antlib:com.salesforce">
	<property file="../sforce.properties"/>

	<target name="usage">
		<echo>Usage: ant [task]
Task options:
ant validate: Simulates a deployment of the package and returns pass/fail debugging information
ant deploy: Deploys the package items defined in package/package.xml
ant undeploy: Rolls back deployed items (must follow ant deploy)
	<target name="validate">
			maxPoll="200" />
	<target name="deploy">
	<target name="undeploy">
		<sf:deploy username="${deploy.username}" password="${deploy.password}" serverurl="${deploy.url}" deployRoot="src"/>

Some notes on the build.xml template
  • Notice that the environment variables are pulled in from sforce.properties in the parent directory.
  • The "validate" target uses a sandbox for testing the deployment
  • Winter '11 introduced the ability to refresh dev and config sandboxes daily. Validating a deployment against a recently refreshed sandbox will identify any potential production deployments upfront
  • The "deploy" target uses the production credentials
  • "undeploy" must be run immediately after a "deploy" to work. Undeploy has some quarky requirements and is not always known to work as expected
Deploying the Package

All that is left to do is run ant from the change directory and call the specific validate or deploy targets. If validation or deployment time out, then adjust the polling attributes on the targets.

Note: It's common to check-in the package to a source control repository prior to deployment to production.

cd ~/Documents/workspace/changes/CHG12345
ant validate
ant deploy
Monday, 21 February 2011 21:00:00 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
# Sunday, 20 February 2011
I've decided to borrow an old Harley-Davidson saying as my definition for the cloud.

"If I have to explain, you wouldn't understand"

Once you're riding the cloud development wave, you'll never turn back :-)

Sunday, 20 February 2011 19:38:13 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)