In Part 1, we looked at the apps and other tools that I come across and use not only in my day to day work as a contractor, but also in my personal projects as well.

I wanted to list and give a brief overview and explanation of why I use the things I do, for the things I do ;)

In this post I’m going to look at Project Management tools and well as the applications and tools I use for CI/CD and ‘DevOps’ work.

Project Management

Keeping track of tasks, details, documents, correspondence when working on multiple projects can be a bit of a nightmare. When I work on projects, I tend to use the following applications to manage my workload and workflow.

Trello

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What do I use it for?

Organizing the over-all, or macro-level view of what’s on my plate at any one time. I setup each project as a list and add tasks in there as cards, complete with checklists, comments and other notes. I then have a “Today” list which I drag tasks from across all my projects into this ‘view’ so I can see what’s on my plate, what’s due, what’s critical etc.

What’s so great about it?

It’s quite a flexible platform for getting tasks in there via email, sms, or just manually editing. Allows you to change the background to a nice image, and then has a LOT of these things called powerups which are just integrations with other online products which extend the capabilities of Trello 100x fold.

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JIRA

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What do I use it for?

tracking bugs, issues, infrastructure requests, basically all manner of project work in and around the code.

What’s so great about it?

The Atlassian people have integrated a bunch of products that all work together nicely for collaboratively working on software based projects e.g. JIRA ticket numbers in a git commit will automagically generate a link to the JIRA ticket from Bitbucket.

JIRA ticket interface: imagetitletag

Get a KANBAN view of the relevant tickets in your project: imagetitletag

note: for enterprise there is your usual pricing options, but for personal use (i.e. free) Atlassian gives you the option of downloading and running JIRA on your own server for a very small 1-off fee.

Confluence

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What do I use it for?

Documentation. Most of the recent companies I’ve contracted at use confluence as their “wiki” or documentation platform of choice. And with good reason.

What’s so great about it?

It’s a great feature-rich documentation platform. Handles all your documentation needs from clean and clear formatting, page layout options, quick keyboard editing shortcuts (e.g. ‘e’ starts edit mode, ctrl+s on the page saves it).

note: for enterprise there is your usual pricing options, but for personal use (i.e. free) Atlassian gives you the option of downloading and running JIRA on your own server for a very small 1-off fee.

see here: Atlassian Software Pricing.

Testing

When you have an issue, or you’re trying to work out how a certain component of the system behaves, or you’re trying to reverse engineer something you’ve never worked with before, you’ll need some good tools to help you do that.

I use the following for various aspects of testing an application works, works as expected, or is working and we don’t know why.

Soap-UI

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What do I use it for?

In my experience I came across Soap-UI for a lot of java application testing. That and, as the name suggests, lots of SOAP based applications (Weblogic SOA platforms, XML Gateways).

I use Soap-UI for firing JSON/XML payloads against REST and ESB endpoints. Also for doing more complex unit tests that need to incorporate a few elements, and possibly has multiple pre-requisite steps e.g. fetching JWT before tests, embedd auth credentials in the request.

What’s so great about it?

Basically everything you could think of for testing SOAP/XML based messaging platforms Soap-UI got you. If you want to flex and set up more complex automated testing suites, it’s got you too. It’s a nice place to put all your unit tests and test logic in one area.

Also, because its a java application it runs on Windows and Linux.

interface: imagetitletag

example of request: imagetitletag

Postman

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What do I use it for?

Pretty much works the same way as Soap-UI, its a great tool for testing endpoints by firing payloads at them.

What’s so great about it?

The browser based version via Chrome Store makes it readily accessible when you’re in your browser and needing to test things without alt-tabbing away. Postman does request intercept so you can analyze a request mid-flow, edit and forward if necessary. Does all the other feature-expected stuff well like headers, auth injection etc. note: there is a desktop application version as well. its just a java app that runs locally.

Docker

imagetitletag Now, docker can be used for many things, but I do use it for testing things out that won’t necessarily be using docker in its final form e.g. testing out a logging system for an app by spinning up a docker-compose of that scenario/environment setup and tweaking the configs of the app and logging system, and taking that config to production even if it doesn’t use docker at all.

What do I use it for?

Every time I need to model a scenario, or setup a learning environment without impacting an external system, or messing with my current system. Examples, testing nginx configs by firing up a container and testing it locally. Firing up docker-composer for an ELK stack and testing grok patterns locally.

What’s so great about it?

Everything (haha). Running things in containers is my new favourite thing. Anything I can run in a container, I just try to because I find it fun to try and do. So yea, Docker’s great. Get into it if you can.

Vagrant

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If you don’t know what Vagrant is you better ask somebody. I know we’re moving away from virtualisation (well, yes and no, it’s still there at the base level of a “box” of some kind for things to run on), but I like vagrant and it has its uses in the mix of my work doing infrastructure design and build.

What do I use it for?

I use it the same way as I do Docker (above), in building these miniature “models” of existing infrastructure I’m trying to troubleshoot, or designs I’m testing out.

What’s so great about it?

Lots of boxes

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Much like the docker hub, you can pull down ready-made OS or application driven virtual machines. Virtual machining you can script, automate and build & run headless is always a good thing.

Conclusion

This is far from an exhaustive list but just a quick overview of a range of tools that come in handy on the regular doing what I do for work and play. Just remembered things like Jenkins, Artifactory (docker repos), Nexus artifact repos… man, I’ve missed out a bunch so will have to revisit this again another time.

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