Git Best Practices – Five Essentials for Developers

If you’re like most software developers, odds are you use Git almost daily. According to a Stack Overflow survey, over 70% of developers use Git. If you’re a newcomer to software development, Git is a distributed version control system (VCS). It’s possible for a dozen or more developers to work on the code for a project. Thus, a VCS like Git makes it much easier to track and manage changes to software code. If something “breaks” – it’s easy to revert back to the last stable version. It can get complex, so here are five Git best practices to help developers interact with Git more efficiently.

Tip 1. Gather Git Resources for Easy Reference

With so many developers using Git, it’s pretty easy to find tips, guides, and advice for every situation. Having all of the software documentation for such a complex and versatile program tops the list of Git best practices, especially for new developers. At a minimum, you’ll want to equip yourself with the essentials:

Tip 2. Create a Git Checklist

Checklists help everyone to not forget anything important. Pilots and technicians use preflight checklists to help make sure planes don’t crash. Developing software is expensive and forgetting to do something early can lead to delays and cost overruns later. With a checklist, you can backtrack your steps to find out where things started to go wrong. Ask your software engineering manager if they have a Git checklist customized for your team. If not, check out the Git checklist devised by Neal Humphries. 

Tip 3. Test First, Commit Second – Early and Often

Two Git best practices in one. Test your code before committing any changes you’ve made to a repository shared with others. Frequently testing your code with small and frequent changes accomplishes several things. It reduces the chances of introducing bugs to your code, adds more waypoints to revert back to if you do introduce a bug, and reduces the time to find and fix the bug. Additionally, your teammates will have greater confidence in your work.

Tip 4. Maintain and Enforce Quality Standards

Not exclusive to Git, software development benefits from enforcing quality standards across all work processes. Software engineering managers who are on the ball will have an established coding standard. They may also provide you with a list of style guides to use for commonly used programming languages. More time is spent reading code than writing it. So, even if you are not the manager, you will likely be involved with code reviews with your peers. 

Creating good commit messages is another of our Git best practices. Git hooks can be used to create automated Git-enforced policies. Git hooks check for a custom commit message format. They also make it so you can define specific users who are allowed to modify specific subdirectories in a project. Writing clear commit messages is important so that everyone understands the reason for a change so they can revert back to the right file. Good commit messages should be clear, concise, and use command words in the present tense. 

Tip 5. Never Panic!

Sometimes something happens…  you accidentally deleted a branch, you committed untested changes to the local master or any number of things. Our first four tips are there to help you get into good habits to avoid these kinds of situations. So many users use Git because it can fix almost all of these kinds of problems. About 95% of the time, you’ll be fine Git has a fix for almost everything. The other 5% of the time, your best course of action is to not hide what you’ve done – get with your team and manager right away and explain what you did. They may know of an easy fix. 

More Advanced Git Best Practices?

Git is a tool that you will likely use quite frequently. The more you learn how to use Git, the easier it will be for you to tackle complex problems. If you are promoted to team leader or become the software engineering manager, you’ll use Git to structure and branch workflows in the best way for each project. Many of the links provided in this article provide invaluable resources to help you and your team interact with Git as efficiently as possible.

software engineering manager job description

Software Engineering Manager’s Secrets for Success

The transition from software developer to software engineering manager can be quite a challenge. Suddenly, you’re moving from a job that’s very technical to one that benefits from strong social skills. At the same time, your role as a software engineering manager involves being very proactive in developing your team’s capabilities. You’ll find that your pathway to success relies upon continuously improving how you work with three simple things – people, processes, and technologies. 

Support Your Team

A survey of 563 software engineers by Microsoft indicated that 75% favored software engineer managers with great social skills even if they had average technical skills. Of the 15 main characteristics associated with great software engineering managers, half relate to social skills. The software engineering manager job description shifts you away from coding to making sure your developers have everything they need to do their job. This means knowing all of your team members and areas of specialization so you can best pair them together for code reviews. It may mean using software development performance analytics so you can objectively measure their code quality, efficiency, and productivity, to identify areas for improvement. 

Microsoft’s Top 15 Characteristics of Great Engineering Managers

  1. Maintains a positive work environment
  2. Grows talent
  3. Enables autonomy
  4. Promotes fairness
  5. Recognizes individuality
  6. Inspires the team
  7. Supports experimentation
  8. Clears the path to execution
  9. Drives alignment
  10. Builds culture
  11. Guides the team
  12. Is available
  13. Facilitates interaction
  14. Is technical
  15. Builds relationships

Everyone else in your company is also part of your team. Work with your HR team to create a career development program and increase awareness of continued education opportunities. Pop into sales and marketing for 15 minutes a month – you may improve on how they describe technical services and new technologies – to help attract new clients. You may also have tips to help automate tasks in other departments. 

Double Down on Project Requirements

The Project Management Institute’s 2018 Pulse of the Profession shows that many of the reasons behind a project’s failure relate to issues with project requirements. Poorly defined project requirements increase the chances for changes mid-stream in development – increasing costs and causing delays. This mandates being thorough in defining product vision statements, roadmap, detailing requirements with a checklist, while defining the business goals and performance metrics integral to evaluating project success. 

Working with project requirements focus on processes. Engineers can quickly boost KPIs of new teams by creating and enforcing a coding standard. Adopt style guides for frequently used programming languages. Define what is “Good Enough” to avoid perfectionism causing delays. Define resources developers are encouraged to use to avoid reinventing the wheel.

Source: PMI’s Pulse of the Profession: 2018

Optimize Your Team by Project

Every project is different in terms of its technology stack, programming languages, components, and more. With over 70% of developers using Git as their Version Control System, it also makes sense to use automated software development analytics services like Gitential or Waydev. Their analytics make it easy to track individual developers in areas like code churn, efficiency, productivity, and countless other metrics. You gain additional value in finding out who your best developers are by programming language, by coding quality, efficiency, and productivity. Developers challenged in some languages can be assigned shorter, simpler tasks, while you divide the balance to your best developers. 

Constantly Innovate

Strive to constantly find ways to improve your team’s main KPIs like quality, efficiency, and productivity. The focus here is on the constant rollout of new software and technologies. You’re looking for tools that can help enhance your team’s KPIs and automate some of their work. Watch for third-party solutions that work well with and offer a cost advantage for projects you frequently work with. As a bonus, you can prepare your team for emerging and next-generation technologies.  

In all cases, do your due diligence before adopting anything. Read reviews of new products first to see if they are worth the time investigating. If a product looks promising, where appropriate delegate it to one of your team members to review, test, and evaluate based on a checklist of your requirements. If it fails their review, there’s no need to test it. When it comes to evaluation, it is important to quantify the cost to adopt or integrate into your workflow versus its recurring benefit. 

Don’t Stop Here!

Success as a software engineering manager doesn’t end with these four tips. But, these four tips will help to keep you focused on the continuous effort to improve interactions with and between people, processes, and technologies. Keeping this focus will inherently drive you to examine ways to compound your improvements enriching your team to continuously produce better quality software more efficiently. Your C-level executives, team members, and customers will love you.

apm software

Two Seconds Until Rage Quit – APM Software for the Fix

Why use Application Performance Management (APM) software? A survey of 3,000 mobile users by TechBeacon shows a shortage of patience and tolerance for poor software performance. Almost half, 49%, expect responses within 2 seconds. Four out of five users will give your software three chances at most to work as expected. APM software provides the only way to automate tracking and alerting software developers and engineers to performance issues that can threaten end-user satisfaction before and after launch.

What does APM software track?

Just like Google Analytics tracks everything that takes place on a website, APM software measures everything that happens in a software product. It captures raw data on performance metrics like:

  • Server metrics including CPU and memory usage
  • Application framework metrics
  • Number of simultaneous queries
  • Average response times
  • Number of pages served each second
  • Application errors and error rates
  • Number of concurrent users
  • User Satisfaction and Apdex Scores
  • Impact of 3rd-party components
  • Custom application metrics set up by your team
  • Application performance by region, and more

Engineers can use this data to diagnose factors having a negative impact on an application’s performance. APM software provides the means for engineers to simulate different server loads with Stress Tests, Capacity Tests, Load Tests, and Endurance or Soak Tests. When the number of concurrent users exceeds your server’s capabilities, processes can be dropped, connections can time out, applications can crash. 

A few years ago, Niantic infamously launched Pokemon Go anticipating a peak load equal to just 2% of actual users. Recently (mid-October, 2020), many users wanting to jump on to see Blizzard’s new World of Warcraft release were treated to a notice like the one above. Fortunately, Blizzard responded much faster than the 6.5 day wait time indicated, and had things back to normal within two days. 

APM Software is Essential to DevOps

Today, DevOps plays a very important role in many software development companies. DevOps combines software development and IT operations to shorten development times in support of Continuous Delivery programs. Companies with mature DevOps programs can release dozens of updates for a product in a single day. APM Software is vital to their efforts allowing engineers to identify and prioritize bug fixes and performance issues before they become a problem. There’s nothing like having an angry customer come in upset over a bug and being able to tell them it’s already fixed. 

Cloud and On-Premise APM Software Solutions

When choosing an APM solution for your software project, there are several things to consider:

  • Which programming languages does it need to support?
  • Do you need an on-site package or cloud support?
  • How good is their user support and documentation? 
  • Do they have an active and helpful user community?
  • What are your pricing constraints?

Most companies have already realized the cost-advantage of moving their servers onto the cloud. Maintaining and keeping your own server farm up-to-date is an expensive proposition. Cloud services are elastic, letting you rapidly scale up and down relative to your software’s lifecycle, typically on a per for what you use basis. Cloud-based APM software follows a “Software as a Service” payment model. Some of the top Cloud-based APM options include:

Several of the the top on-premise APM solutions also provide support for the cloud:

APM Software Helps Prevent the Two-Second Rage Quit

More and more software depends on the Internet to perform increasingly complex operations. Increasingly, software also depends upon connecting with third-party applications. In the end, all of those milliseconds and nanoseconds add up and can exceed end-user patience. Every second counts.

APM Software provides software engineering managers and DevOps teams the ability to identify and prioritize where improvements can be made. First, by reducing the resources needed to run each instance of a program, companies save money on their cloud usage. Second, but more importantly, responsive software is vital to customer satisfaction. 

git repository structure best practices

Git Repository Structure Best Practices 

Git is a distributed version control system (VCS) that can track all of the changes any number of developers make to a file. It’s very cool, powerful, and complex. It can also lead to making a lot of mistakes, but Git also makes it very easy to fix them. That’s perhaps why most (70%) software development companies use Git as their Version Control System (VCS) to manage all of the projects they work on. A few Git repository best practices can help avoid a lot of mistakes while also improving developer productivity.

Every software project can have its own Git Repository (like a folder). The Repository tracks all of the changes to its files – telling who made changes, when, and why, with a unique ID or hash. The following diagram demonstrates the process for a simple workflow. 

Image courtesy of

Defining your Git Repository Structure 

With Git, you can create as many repositories as you need to make it easy for everyone working on your project. To work with repositories, Getting a Git Repository provides nearly everything you need to know. Think about how your team is structured and how the work for your software project will be organized. These considerations can help you set up your repository structure in the most logical and simplest way. 

For example, you can have:

  • A super-repository for all of the projects your company or team is working on.
  • A repository for each project or group of related projects for easy re-use of code.
  • Repositories for each team – in-house developers, contractors, or freelancers.
  • Repositories for specific project components – by product, feature, library, class, etc.
  • It’s useful to have a repository for large binary files as they don’t work well with Git.
  • A repository for each team member.
  • Add additional repositories as needed. 

Git Repository Best Practices

Access is managed at the Repo level

Whoever has access to a repository has access to everything in it, including its history. Does everyone need access to everything? Probably not. Logically limiting access by user groups serves to help prevent accidental data exposure, intentional privilege misuse or abuse, and compromised user credentials. Use repositories to help you compartmentalize.

Repositories for Reusable Files

If your company or team specializes in creating certain types of software, some of your files are likely to be used in multiple projects. Create a repository for these files to encourage your team to share and reuse the code. This is likely to be stable, heavily tested code that can save your team a lot of time avoiding having to reinvent the wheel.

Repositories for Large Non-Text Files

Where possible, place large non-text files in repositories of their own. Git works best by comparing text files, where the 1,225 page book “War and Peace” has a text size of about 3.2 Mb. Most (not all) software files are much smaller, often measured in Kilobytes. Multimedia files can be much larger – by a scale of x10 or x1,000. Because of how Git works, even if just 1 pixel of a picture or movie frame changes, it makes a new copy of the entire file. Git Large File Storage (LFS) can help you manage these files. The larger your repo gets, the slower it will become and of course, the more storage it will require. 

Practice and Experiment

Git is a complex program and it may seem daunting at first. So many companies wouldn’t be using it if they didn’t think it was the best free option available. As with anything, the more you work with it, the easier it will get. That brings us to a variety of resources to help you get a grip on everything Git can do for you:

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