jueves, diciembre 19, 2013

Documentation is a Living System with Asciidoctor

In Agile methodology is very important to iterate over and over again walking small steps so all team (which I also include the customers), can receive quick feedback of how the project is going on. 

Aligned with this requirement, is where Continuous Integration/Continuous Delivery has sense. Every new commit, implies among a lot of other stages compile, execute unit/integration tests, execute code quality or execute acceptance tests. All these kind of tests generate some kind of documentation (usually an HTML file) as a report. To improve the visibility of the project to all team members, it is a good practice to publish these reports to a webserver so all members can access to it and inspect the result of that compilation and the progress of the project.

But with the advent of lightweight markup languages like Markdown or AsciiDoc, the documentation of the projects is (or should be) treated as source code too, so it should be delivered as any other part of the system like for example test reports, so that every member of the team should see exactly the progress of the documentation at the time of packaging. 

In this post we are going to see how to acquire this we are going to use Asciidoctor-Maven-Plugin and Maven-Assembly-Plugin, to create a war file containing your documentation which at the end could be uploaded to a server using for example Cargo-Maven-Plugin or in your Jenkins pipeline.

The first thing to do is create a project with source code, test code and of course documentation. 

Because it is a good idea to treat documentation as code (it would require another post to talk about it), we can put documentation inside src/main/resources, and create a document for each module inside the package of the module. So for example if in src/main/java/com/mycompany/users we have all code developed about user management, you will put documentation about user management in src/main/resources/com/mycompany/users, or if you prefer src/main/docs/com/mycompany/users, but as you can see the documentation should be very close to developer, in fact in same project workspace. 

You can see a full example in https://github.com/lordofthejars/foobank.

And now it is time to render documentation each time the build is done and package it into a war file.

To render the documentation we are going to use Asciidoctor-Maven-Plugin and Assembly-Maven-Plugin.

Let's see how to configure Asciidoctor-Maven-Plugin:

The plugin renders all AsciiDoc files that are at src/main/resources folder and its subfolders. They are rendered in HMTL format, and by default are rendered at target/generated-docs.

Now the we have all our documentation files rendered as HTML, it is time to package them inside a WAR file so we can deploy them into a web server using Assembly-Maven-Plugin.

The name of the output file is foobank because we are using finalBuild tag, and finally Assembly plugin requires a file called assembly.xml to configure which files are included in package and the output directory.

Note that we are adding a suffix to the output file by using id tag, so the final name will be foobank-doc.war. And finally we setup that all files inside target/generated-docs will be packaged.

And now you can deploy this WAR file in your documentation server, so every team on your project will be able to read the latest content generated at the same time of compiling, packaging or deploying your application. Your documentation is treated as code.

You can see a full example in https://github.com/lordofthejars/foobank.

We keep learning,

Desolation comes upon the sky, Now I see fire, Inside the mountain, I see fire (I See Fire - Ed Sheeran)
Music: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DzD12qo1knM

sábado, diciembre 14, 2013

Asciidoctor Meets JBehave.

User story is one or more sentences in natural language or business language which captures the requirements of what end user wants to be implemented in the product we are developing.

User Stories typically have the form:

"In order to <receive benefit> as a <role>, I want <goal/desire>"

User stories are also documentation for our project, first of all because they express what the product should do, and second one because they will be used by our clients/stakeholders, to validate that we are building the right thing.

JBehave is a framework for Behaviour-Driven Development (BDD). BDD is an evolution of test-driven development (TDD) and acceptance-test driven design, and is intended to make these practices more accessible and intuitive to newcomers and experts alike. The core of JBehave from the point of view of end users are user story files, where we define stories that our product should meet to validate that we are aligned with what our client wants. A user story example in JBehave is:

Note that first sentence is a description, then a narrative section which contains sentences of the form in order to, as a, I want. And finally the definition of scenarios that must meet this story to be considered completed.

So as you can see, story files are project documentation, and as project documentation would be awesome if we could add them inside our documents as documentation and not as simple plain text. And here is where Asciidoctor comes to action. Asciidoctor is a Ruby, Java and Javascript processor for converting AsciiDoc source files and strings into HTML 5, DocBook 4.5 and other formats. Your project may contain different kind of documents written in AsciiDoc like Software Design Specifications (SDS), manuals, or for example a test plan. And it is in test plan where including user stories, could be a really good improvement. And for this reason jbehave-asciidoctorj-extension has been developed.

Let's see an example. Suppose that we are writing a document where we want to test some user stories manually (apart of automatically of course) due to the criticality of the process:

As you can see we have created a simple AsciiDoc document with some information. But the interesting part is include::jbehave::userStories:src/**/*.story[initialLevel=1, manual=true]. Note that we are including all jbehave userstories that are placed on src folder. This extension supports any valid glob expression. And at the end we can set two attributes, the first one is the initial level of the section where user stories will be rendered (remember that the first one is 0), and finally if the steps will be executed manually or not, which has a deep impact on final rendered document as we will see soon.

Our project has two story files:

As you can see the second story has a dependency to the first story, which means that this second story is only valid if first story has passed successfully. Apart from this fact, we can set examples as tables as well.

So let's see an screenshot of previous document rendered:

I think it is important to note two blocks. The first one is the NOTE block. See that GivenStories are rendered as Admonition, and with a link pointing to another story; this is pretty important because clicking there it will move the page where that (precondition) story was defined, so you can also inspect what was that story about. The other interesting part is the Result part. Because we have set user stories as manual, the extension will render three checkboxes so tester can mark if the scenario passes, fails or also if he wants to add some comment.

So now there is no excuse to not adding user stories in your documents in a really fashion way.

We keep learning,
Maman dit Annotate"travailler c'est bien", Bien mieux qu'être mal accompagné, Pas vrai ? (Papaoutai - Stromae)

martes, diciembre 03, 2013

Are Configuration Files Documentation? ... Yes!!! TomEE + Asciidoctor Example

Normally in our projects we generate a considerable amount of documentation. Some documentation is directly a document written as is, for example Software Requirements Specifications (SRS) or Software Design Specifications (SDS), but there are other pieces of our projects that although they are not a document directly, they are consulted by developers/testers/managers, customers ... and treat it as is, for example user stories written by developers and/or QA in Cucumber or JBehave format or  javadoc. And now I ask to myself, are configuration files documentation too? Are people interested in having them in a document and treat them as documentation? And the answer is YES!!!. In this post we are going to see how to transform TomEE's configuration file into a document using an Asciidoctor extension I have developed specially for this occasion.

In TomEE, resources and containers can be configured inside a file called tomee.xml among other places. But what really makes interesting is that a subset of this file can be put inside the project, so each web application is responsible of configuring their own resources, for example DataSources, JMS Queues, ....  And having the ability of putting specific configuration of the server inside the application also opens the doors of creating more than one configuration file per application, and load one or another depending on the environment we are going to deploy the application. For example:
  • In developer environment the DataSource could point to an embedded database.
  • In QA environment the DataSource could point to a database installed on localhost.
  • In Stage environment the same DataSource points to an external IP1.
  • In Production environment the same DataSource points to an external IP2.
So as you can see, it would be interesting to have all these information as readable documentation, so everyone involved in the project could review it and for example know exactly which servers are being used in each environment as datasources, or configuration parameters like pool size of stateless manager.

And this is exactly what tomee-asciidoctor-extension does. It allows us to embed Apache TomEE configuration files into an AsciiDoc documentation.

Let's see an example of Apache TomEE configuration file:

This is a typical configuration file where for example you can see some DataSources defined, custom resource or definition of TransactionManager.

Probably your projects will have a document called for example infrastructure (or something similar) where all information related with the software that is being used in the project and  environments used will be described.

A simple example of these kind of documents can be:

Note that besides describing the software that is going to be used for solving our problem, in this case an Apache TomEE, we are using the tomee-asciidoctor-extension to add the Apache TomEE's container and resources configuration file, so when someone wants to inspect the documentation will also see exactly the configuration values that had Apache TomEE at time of generating the document. If you look carefully you only need to add next line to transform a Apache TomEE configuration file into documentation:


In this case we are including a file called resources.xml. Note that in order to extension detects an Apache TomEE configuration file, we need to use the special keyword tomee: followed by the location of the file. Also note that we are using an attribute called initialLevel. Because we are embedding one document into another one, we need a way to set at which level the document will be rendered, and this is what this attribute is designed for.

Previous document rendered with default style sheet looks like:

See that thanks of Asciidoctor and its extension system, we are able to convert configuration files to documentation.

You can see the code of this extension at: https://github.com/lordofthejars/asciidoctorj-extensions/tree/master/tomee-asciidoctorj-extensions

We keep learning,
Siente y baila y goza, Que la vida es una sola, Voy a reír, voy a bailar, Vive, sigue, Siempre pa'lante (Vivir Mi Mida - Marc Anthony)

Music: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YXnjy5YlDwk

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