Jython, JGit and co. in Hudson

At the Hudson Bay Area Meetup/Hackathon that Slide, Inc. hosted last weekend, I worked on the Jython plugin and released it just days after releasing a strikingly similar plugin, the Python plugin. I felt that an explanation might be warranted as to why I would do such a thing.

For those that don't know, Hudson is a Java-based continuous integration server, one of the best CI servers developed (in my humblest of opinions). What makes Hudson so great is a very solid plugin architecture allowing developers to extend Hudson to support a wide variety of scripting languages as well as notifiers, source control systems, and so on (related post on the growth of Hudson's plugin ecosystem). Additionally, Hudson supports slaves on any operating system that Java supports, allowing you to have a central manager (the "master" Hudson server/node) and a vast network of different machines performing tasks and executing jobs. Now that you're up to speed, back to the topic at hand.

Jython versus Python plugin. Why bother with either, as @gboissinot pointed out in this tweet? The interesting thing about the Jython plugin, particularly when you use a large number of slaves is that with the installation of the Jython plugin, suddenly you have the ability to execute Python script on every single slave, regardless of whether or not they actually have Python installed. The more "third party" that can be moved into Hudson by way of the plugin system means reduced dependencies and difficulty setting up slaves to help handle load.

Take the "git" versus the "git2" plugin, the git plugin was recently criticized on the #hudson channel because of it's use of the JGit library, versus "git2" which invokes git(1) on the command line. The latter approach is flawed for a number of reasons, particularly the reliance on the git command line executables and scripts to return consistent formatting is specious at best even if you aren't relying on "porcelain" (git community terminology for front-end-ish script and code sitting on top of the "plumbing", the breakdown is detailed here). The command-line approach also means you now have to ensure every one of your slaves that are likely to be executing builds have the appropriate packages installed. One the flipside however, with the JGit-based approach, the Hudson slave agent can transfer the appropriate bytecode to the machine in question and execute that without relying on system-dependencies.

The Hudson Subversion plugin takes a similar approach, being based on SVNKit.

Being a Python developer by trade, I am certainly not in the "Java Fanboy" camp, but the efficiencies gained by incorporating Java-based libraries in Hudson plugins and extensions is a no brainer, the reduction of dependencies on the systems incorporated in your build farm will save you plenty of time in maintenance and version woes alone. In my opinion, the benefits of JGit, Jython, SVNKit, and the other Java-based libraries that are running some of the most highly used plugins in the Hudson ecosystem continue to outweigh the costs, especially as we find ourselves bringing more and more slaves online.

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