What do *you* do when a maintenance release is announced?

Paul Usher's Blog
20 September 2013



Ok, so you just received the announcement ‘DevExpress Announcement: Maintenance Releases Now Available (v201x vol y.z)’ what do you do? 

Personally I think updates of any nature are cool; I’ve always been one for running the latest beta on any platform. Sure it’s bitten me more than once (most recently Win 8.1 RC & 8.1 RTM), but the payoff outweighs the pain. I love the chance to get to know the new feature and embrace what will be, before the masses. So the next question is, ‘how do you cope with real clients and regular updates?’, When it comes to major versions, they are pretty easy, you can run side by side versions of products and move clients or products over when you’re ready.  Minor updates can sometimes seem tedious.  I’ve worked with a large number of clients in the past running XAF, WinForms and ASP.NET, so here is a quick guide as to how we handled updates.  The first thing is to set your mindset straight, updates *are* good.  I know you only shipped a version last week, but embrace it, with a good guide you can minimize the fuss.

What machines need updating?  without going into a whole license discussion (because correct licensing IS important), the first place to start is a list of machines that need updating.  I use a hybrid setup (Mac OS X (yes Mavericks), and a virtual machine running Win 8.1 RTM. So for me it all starts with a list in OmniFocus, (although back in my solo Win days, I used MLO [MyLifeOrganised], for the same thing).   

First list the machines you need to update such as; Desktop, Laptop, Surface, Tablet. It’s important to keep all your devices running the same version.  Next make a list of all the projects you are working on, for example; [Client A], Project 1, Project 2, Project 3, [Client B], Project 1 etc..

Sometimes not all projects need to be updated straight away, but by creating the list if any bug fixes or updates is required you know exactly where you stand.  There is nothing worse than wanting to push out a quick feature and remembering you have 20mb of dependencies to deal with as well.

When it comes down to deployment, I also use the DevExpress Deployment Tool, detailed here in a knowledge base article. It is a great way to see what libraries you are using and export them to an external folder.

If you are supporting external websites, I have often found it is a good practice to pre-upload the required assemblies to a new folder on the site in preparation for the next release; for example, under the \bin folder, I would create a \bin\13.1.7 folder and upload all the necessary DLL’s ready, so when I publish the next update for the site, instead of finding all the files and uploading, they are already there. Of course my experience is dealing with really slow internet and many minutes of waiting for files to be published.

Whatever plan you undertake, there are some key aspects to maintenance releases…

  1. Stay up to date
  2. Keep a template list of dev machines to update
  3. Keep a template list of client projects to update
  4. Pre-publish files in preparation for the next version of your product
  5. Check out the ‘Whats New’ and ‘Breaking Changes’

I’d love to hear how you handle your updates, leave a comment below….

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