Blue Ocean brings easy-to-use continuous delivery for teams to everyone. Years in the making, Blue Ocean is a major project built from the ground up for Jenkins Pipeline. I had a chance to speak with two of the key contributors from CloudBees and the Jenkins community, James Dumay and R. Tyler Croy. Tyler is on the Governance Board for Jenkins.
Blue Ocean provides:
- Sophisticated visualizations of CD pipelines, allowing for fast and intuitive comprehension of pipeline’s status.
- Pipeline editor makes creation of pipelines approachable by guiding the user through an intuitive and visual process to create a pipeline.
- Personalization to suit the role-based needs of each member of the team.
- Pinpoint precision when intervention is needed and/or issues arise. Blue Ocean shows where in the pipeline attention is needed, facilitating exception handling and increasing productivity.
- Native integration for branch and pull requests enables maximum developer productivity when collaborating on code with others in GitHub and Bitbucket.
As usual our conversation in the streaming media player is immediately below.
Transcript of our conversation
Alan Shimel: Hey everyone. This is Alan Shimel, editor in chief of DevOps.com. Welcome to another DevOps Chat. We have two guests today on DevOps Chat. We have James Dumay and R. Tyler Croy of the Jenkins community. James, Tyler, welcome to DevOps Chat.
James Dumay: Nice to be here, Alan.
R. Tyler Croy: Thanks for having us.
Shimel: Thank you. Let’s start off though with just a little background of each of you. James, you’re coming to us all the way from Australia. In deference to the distance, we’re going to let you go first. Why don’t you share with our audience a little bit of your background?
Dumay: Yeah, sure thing. So I’ve been probably building development tools for the last 10 years. I think I’ve found my calling here. I love making developers more productive. I also want to make developers happier. So I do have this bee in my bonnet that developer tools are difficult when they’re boring and they’re not very pleasing. It’s my life’s mission to turn that around.
Shimel: Excellent. Tyler, how about you?
Croy: I’ve been with the Jenkins project a little over eight years now. I started using it when I was a back-end services engineer, a few startups ago. Every single company that I’ve joined needs more continuous delivery or some non-zero amount of continuous delivery stuff. So I found myself getting more and more ingrained in the Jenkins project and bringing Jenkins to bear in companies to ship products faster. Now I work at CloudBees talking about how you can do that and help other people see the light with some of the Jenkins stuff I’ve been doing for a while.
Shimel: Tyler, I don’t want to embarrass you. You actually are—I don’t even know the word, but you’re one of the—on the steering committee or the governing committee for Jenkins. Is that the right way to put it?
Croy: I guess you would say I’m on the Jenkins governance board. In the beginning of the Jenkins project, there was Kohsuke Kawaguchi who was the founder of the project, and then there are a few other core folks that were floating around that helped get Jenkins off the ground. Andrew Bayer who is a major contributor to the pipeline toolset, is one of those people. So I’ve just—Jenkins became a really important part of my life. I started spending a hell of a lot more time with Jenkins, and now I’m one of the people that makes sure that the project continues to move forward.
Shimel: Excellent. James, I don’t know if you mentioned your role other—at this point, other than you’re cuckoo for Jenkins. What exactly is your role right now?
Dumay: I’m director of Product Management at CloudBees, but I’m also a community leader for the Blue Ocean project. I do all the outreach and talk to all the users. It’s good fun, but previously before I was at CloudBees, I was at a small Australian startup called Canva. They do an online design tool. Prior to that, I spent seven years at Atlassian, where I was product manager for actually a competing product.
Shimel: Absolutely. Well, we’re allowed to have competing products. They may not be any good. I’m only kidding. James, you mentioned the magic word. You get the first prize today. That was Blue Ocean. Today’s a bit of a—more than a bit—today is a big day in the Jenkins community. This release has been highly anticipated. It’s been in beta and in testing, alpha before that for some time. Talk to us. What about it? Why should people care?
Dumay: All right. That’s a big question. So I guess we’re living in a really interesting time in the industry. We have this—there’s this ride of exponential change that is happening across our industry, whether it’s tooling and technology and process, or just the raw number of people writing computer software in the—we’ll be in the year 2020 soon. I think if you look back in the previous 10–20 years, the amount of companies out there that are writing software today and were not writing software 10 or 20 years ago. So Marc Andreessen speaks about software eating the world, where all the value that companies provide slowly but surely are being made, not by the engine in a Ford motor vehicle, but it’s the software on board the Ford motor vehicle.
So it’s an interesting time to be a software developer, or to be in this field, but it’s also a really interesting time to be a tools creator. I think with this increase of people in the industry—it’s not like we have lowered the bar to what we call a software developer, but I think there’s a lot more people today who, in their jobs, whether it be financial services, or in other industries, who are finding their job involves writing software. I think there’s a big challenge here, and Blue Ocean is founded on going out there and solving this problem, that how do we make the millions of software developers or even people who are just writing software as part of their jobs, how do we make them more productive? How do we make sure they can get what they need to get done as quick as they can get it done at the highest quality that they can get it done with the best tools possible?
So with Blue Ocean, we’re sort of focused in on the practice of DevOps and on continuous delivery. We set ourselves a goal. What if we can make it really easy for people to adopt continuous delivery? Blue Ocean is our answer to that.
Shimel: Tyler, James—I think James made some important points. What can you add there? Why—let’s step back a second. Let’s say our audience is vaguely familiar with Jenkins. Most of them probably use it, but there’s some maybe that don’t. What is—let’s start with what is Jenkins to them? What does Blue Ocean represent to Jenkins?
Croy: Sort of at a high level, Jenkins is an automation server. Jenkins is probably the most well-known tool of its kind across the entire software industry. As far as helping developers build and test and deploy their software, chances are with most organization today, if someone doesn’t think they’re running Jenkins, they might just not be aware, or they might be so far removed, or that it’s hiding, that they don’t know that it’s actually there. It’s pretty omnipresent in the industry right now.
One of the big things about I would say the shift in the industry that has made Blue Ocean important—when I first started in northern California about 10 or— [inaudible] 10 years ago, continuous integration was this really big, important thing. I kept coming to companies who either didn’t have a continuous integration server, or didn’t practice—nobody but the developers knew that there was a continuous integration server. As the industry has shifted towards this more and more rapid pace of “Let’s practice continuous delivery. Let’s get product and value to our customers as soon as possible,” it’s no longer acceptable for just the developers to get feedback to what’s going on in that process.
So I think the important thing for Blue Ocean, and I would say broader software industry, is that continuous delivery is not a developer thing. It’s an entire team thing. It’s an organizational thing. Blue Ocean is designed from the ground up to make sure that people who might not be writing code every single day, or they might be designers, or they might be product managers, or stakeholders of some form or fashion in the software development process. They need to know what’s going on and Blue Ocean is going to give them a window into what’s going on in the delivery pipeline. That’s a pretty dramatic shift from the Jenkins that was created 10 years ago, which was just for developers.
Shimel: Got it. Got it. Now guys, I’ve had the—I don’t know if the word is a pleasure, but I’ve had the—well, it was a pleasure in a lot of ways, but I’ve had the experience of being involved with open-source projects in the past. It’s a fickle thing being part of a community. It’s even harder when you have a corporate entity such as CloudBees in this—CloudBees isn’t alone in this. There are many companies that are mentoring, managing—whatever you want to call it—open-source projects. Talk—I loved what I saw of how that relationship was handled as it applied to Blue Ocean.
Guys, can you give us a little color on that? No pun intended with Blue Ocean and color, but a little background on how you worked with the community to deliver, I think, what the community consensus was what was needed.
Dumay: Just to preface this. So this is my first time working full-time on behalf of the commercial entity for _____ community. So I—when we started at Blue Ocean, I kind of put myself in Tyler’s very capable hands. Tyler had had a lot of previous experience, not with Jenkins, but with other projects, walking that fine line between community and the need for the business sponsor, I guess. So it’s been an interesting process. I think certainly for CloudBees, a healthy Jenkins community is a healthy CloudBees, and a healthy CloudBees is a healthy Jenkins community. It all feeds into each other. As long as, I think, we take things from a project perspective, like what’s good for Jenkins, we’re making good decisions in both aspects.
Certainly, we had been running—more in terms of Blue Ocean itself, we had been running for multiple years Jenkins community surveys, and one of the top issues people would have liked to see addressed in that feedback had been the user experience with Jenkins. They really wanted it to be easier to get started. They really wanted clarity when they’re looking for particular cases, information. I think there was a real groundswell there to see some improvements, and see some sort of more modern thinking around how to solve problems. I hope that we’ve done that. Certainly the feedback that we’ve been getting from the community has been pretty great.
Just on the community itself, I think software developers can be a pretty passionate tribe of people. So it’s—the Jenkins project is no different from the wider developer community. They’ve been passionate in a very encouraging way, in a very forgiving way as well. Particularly when you go ahead and think about any product that has—web product that has been redesigned. So the people get very upset. They’re very invested in the tools that they use, or the products that they use, and then you move their cheese, and people go “Where did that thing go? Where did this other thing go? No. I was using that. Bring it back.” I think with the Jenkins community, I think they’ve been very—I think they’ve wanted the change for so long that as things change, we—they’re getting some new goodies in their bag and they’re happy to let some of the old bits disappear.
Croy: I think there’s also—if you look at that feedback from the Jenkins user list going back years and years and years, there’s been—most people, I would say, that contribute to the Jenkins project, note they’re new, I guess past tense, because Blue Ocean is one meadow now—knew that something needed to get fixed, and someone needed to do something to really improve and set up Jenkins for the next 10 years. The skill set and the passion and the vision really wasn’t there.
So when James and his team, his colleague Michael Neale and some of the other people, really started to get involved, I think it was easier for other contributors in the project to rally around that. It was clear that not only did they know what they were doing, but they understood the challenge in that we needed to think about the design from the ground up, as opposed to reskinning or reseaming Jenkins. They needed to evaluate it from a user experience standpoint and start from 2016 rather than 2006, which is when the project really started. So I think that was really helpful to have some—a passionate group of people with vision to drive it forward.
Shimel: A passionate group of people with vision can accomplish a lot. That’s for sure. Guys, let me ask you—we’re almost out of time. What—for each of you, and we’ll go with James first. James, what do you think is the single biggest aspect or feature of Blue Ocean that our listeners should take a look at?
Dumay: That’s very unfair, Alan. I love them all.
Shimel: How can a parent decide? But guys, so pick one. Doesn’t have to be your favorite or biggest, but one that we’d like to call out.
Dumay: The official pipeline editor. So _____ delivery pipeline is difficult at the best of times for people to create. So we set ourselves a challenge. What if we could make it very easy for people to create a continuous delivery pipeline using Blue Ocean UI. The one thing I really like about it is it really is for everyone. We talk a lot about—we’ve got a lot of plans for the Blue Ocean in the future. One thing we talk about is the Fisher Price’ing of the editor. I don’t know if you’re familiar with Duplo blocks you give a toddler. But you can get all these different attachments, all these crazy things, and you can customize your own creation using Duplo. It’s non-checkable Lego. So really, Duplo is for everybody. So anybody of any age can—of any skillset, can construct something from Duplo.
The thing that I like about the—I guess the vision behind the editor is anybody can construct a continuous delivery pipeline, even if they don’t have coding knowledge. Maybe they want to take—they have—we can go as far as they can have a PHP website on a Dropbox folder and they want to upload that, deploy that continuously to their webhost, their DreamHost or something like that. That’s the kind of—we want to bring continuous delivery to everyone.
I think the communal pipeline editor is the vehicle to do that. One of the great things about the editor as well is that it is what you see is what you get. So when you build it in the editor, that’s exactly how you visualize it later on in Blue Ocean, as that pipeline is executing. It’s really powerful in that way.
Shimel: Great. Makes sense. Tyler, how about you?
Croy: So my interactions with Jenkins are typically when something goes wrong. I think that’s maybe a bit more common for an infrastructure administer or developer. So, for me, I would say the No. 1 killer feature with Jenkins—with Blue Ocean and Jenkins is that the clicks to get from a failure or something going wrong to seeing what actually went wrong, it’s pretty much one click. So the visualization of status is so much faster and more immediate in Blue Ocean that when I come to Blue Ocean to figure out what test failed, or what went wrong in my pipeline, I get that in a matter of seconds, as opposed to drilling around and hunting through console help. So for me, that’s probably the killer feature.
Shimel: Make sense. Guys, we’re going to wrap up here in a moment, but just quickly, for people who want to find out more about Blue Ocean, where can they go? James, Tyler?
Dumay: No problem. They can go over to Jenkins.io/projects/blueocean or the Jenkins blog, which is Jenkins.io/blog.
Shimel: Okay, Tyler, I’m going to hit you with the last question. Now that Blue Ocean is 1.0, what’s next?
Shimel: [laughter] You didn’t expect to get a rest, did you?
Croy: No, no. I think the really important thing that’s next for the Jenkins project is I would say the next three months of Jenkins pipeline and Blue Ocean adoption. Now that we’ve got the tools that we’ve brought to the broader software industry for building and constructing and running continuous delivery pipelines, we’re going to need to iterate, on them and we’re going to need to make them better as more and more people start to adopt continuous delivery. I think we’re, certainly before the end of the year, we’re certainly going to find new things that we can add into Jenkins to make that an even more enjoyable experience.
Shimel: Absolutely. Hey guys, congratulations. I know it’s easy on release day to say something came out. There was a lot of work here, an awful lot.
Dumay: Very much so. Thanks.
Shimel: Thank you, James, Tyler, great job. R. Tyler Croy, James Dumay of CloudBees and Jenkins talking about Blue Ocean, the big news around Jenkins and CICD Pipelines. Guys, thanks very much. Hopefully we’ll have you back soon on another DevOps chat.
Croy: Thanks a lot. See you later.
Shimel: This is Alan Shimel with DevOps Chat. We’ll see everyone soon on another DevOps chat, but until then, have a great day.