ChatOps — a Way to facilitate Agile and DevOps


Improved collaboration is at the core of the Agile and DevOps methodologies — especially the latter. All this interaction between technology professionals — developers, software testers, network engineers, and business stakeholders — requires enhanced and timely communication, either in person, over the phone, or increasingly using some form of messaging client. The speed of the software development process depends on it.

The term for this modern software engineering model is known as conversation-driven development, or a catchier moniker: ChatOps. Let’s take a closer look at ChatOps to see it makes sense to use it at your shop. Maybe it can supercharge your software development efforts?

A Closer Look at ChatOps

ChatOps takes the instant messaging communication model and enhances it by adding the capability for the chat bot being used to recognize certain commands and execute them as scripts. These scripts are used to run builds, message everyone on the team, or any number of relevant functions. A variety of open source chat bots (that are in turn compatible with different chat clients) are able to be configured to execute commands that work with build servers, deployment servers, and more.

Some of the chat clients able to be used with ChatOps include Campfire, Slack, and HipChat. They need to be paired with a chat bot, such as Hubot, Lita, and Err. Since the bots are all open source and written in popular languages, like Ruby or Python, modifying them to suit your team’s purposes shouldn’t be difficult.

Many software development pundits credit GitHub for devising the conversation-driven development model and coining the term, ChatOps. For an example of the methodology in action, Flowdock describes in a blog post how they implemented ChatOps as part of their development process.

Essentially, ChatOps adds a functional layer to the conversations at the heart of collaborative software development in the Agile era. The ability to perform some development tasks, like starting a build, deployment, or automated test scripts, while exchanging messages with the other members of a DevOps team simply adds efficiency to the entire process.

Agile continues to evolve how Software gets Written and Managed

ChatOps, in a similar manner as DevOps, is simply a continued evolution of Agile’s influence on software development. No longer do programmers and QA personnel sit in their cubicles working alone except for a daily meeting. Team members are able to interact through messaging, in addition to the added visibility and functionality provided by a chat client executing builds or notifying everyone when errors bubble out of a production server.

This model is especially effective when considering the widely distributed nature of many software development teams. The other programmers may be working in a different continent instead of in the same building. Additionally, leveraging automated tasks implemented using the chat bot reduces the adverse effects of human error on software projects.

In short, if Agile and/or DevOps is your methodology of choice, you need to consider using ChatOps to truly get the most out of your investment. It even offers advantages to any software development methodology.

Stay tuned to the Betica Blog for further insights from the world of software development.