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Jenkins 2.0, where the devil have you been?

Automation platform finally gets full upgrade after ten years...

The Jenkins project has declared a new focus on ease of use after finally delivering version 2 of the automaton platform, a mere 10 years after version 1 hit the streets.

While the community behind the platform has not exactly been idle - pushing out 655 weekly releases of the platform - the latest release delivers on a number of commitments made last year by the project's creator (and Cloudbees CTO) Kohsuke Kawaguchi, and is the first to merit a whole new version number.

More importantly perhaps, it is squarely targeted at both ease of use and larger enterprise organisations. The latter in particular might be presumed to baulk at any product that is still on version 1 - particularly after a decade.

Speaking to The Register, Kohsuke said that continuous delivery pipelining was a key element of the new platform.

“What people want to do with Jenkins have been shifting over time,” he said. “When I originally created the software...you were trying to automate the build and test executions, but now everyone does that. So now we are thinking about more downstream automation, and the testing that involves bigger scale or multiple pieces.”

At the same time, he said, he had sought to make the product easier to setup, in part by developing a list of suggested plug-ins. “We looked at how people get started with Jenkins and made it really easy.”

He admitted that Jenkins has been “positioned like a bucket full of Lego blocks” with a minimal core foundation, and users then having the choice - or curse - of having to choose from 1000s of available plug-ins. “It’s a great strength that we have this ecosystem, but it also requires this it has this feeling of assembly required.”

The new platform will ship with an expanded core of recommended plug-ins, which Kohsuke said should handle “80 per cent of the use cases.”

“I think it’s beneficial for users, that they know what we think are the industry best practices, they don’t have to go Google,” he said. We can fix those things and make the overall product experience better.”

He accepted that any recommendations ran the risks of angering some in the community. He said the choice was informed by what plug-ins are already the most popular. In addition, he continued, the community had taken into account bug reports, how easily discoverable given plug-ins are, and how well maintained plug-ins are.

Communities are fickle things, and have a habit of turning on their former heroes - particularly if they feel they selling out of getting too corporate.

Kohsuke insisted there was nothing to alienate existing Jenkins users, with 2.0 still using the same core and was compatible with the previous version.

Community feedback on betas of 2.0 had been broadly positive, he said, though some issues had cropped which will set the pattern for updates in the future.

“I feel like as more people started using pipeline, they are discovering more issues. On one hand I think it’s good the people are starting to use it seriously, on the other hand, that made me feel we have more work to do to fix those. We have a good sense of what those problems are.” ®

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