One Platform for All: Consolidating Development Tools
In the Platform Engineering era, when innovation and efficiency are paramount, the role of development tools cannot be underestimated. The array of tools available for various tasks can be both a blessing 😇 and a curse 😈.
The question arises: Is it better to maintain an extensive collection of development tools, each serving a specific purpose, or should we focus on consolidating these tools into a unified platform?
In this article, we will explore the benefits of minimizing the development tools collection and concentrating efforts on a single, comprehensive platform.
The Dilemma of Tool Proliferation The modern software development ecosystem offers a plethora of tools tailored to specific tasks — source control, project management, documentation, continuous integration, deployments, and more. However, as the number of tools increases, so does the complexity of managing and integrating them. This can lead to fragmentation, inefficiencies, and even confusion among development teams.
The Allure of Consolidation Imagine a scenario where your development process operates seamlessly, with all tools integrated into a single platform. Every aspect of your workflow — from version control to code reviews to deployment — is streamlined within a unified environment. This concept of consolidation offers several compelling advantages:
1. Enhanced Efficiency: With all tools accessible from a single interface, developers can seamlessly transition between tasks without context switching. This leads to reduced cognitive load and increased efficiency.
2. Improved Collaboration: Consolidation fosters collaboration by providing a centralized hub for communication, code sharing, and knowledge dissemination. Collaboration barriers caused by fragmented tools are dismantled.
3. Simplified Onboarding: New team members no longer need to learn a myriad of tools; they can quickly familiarize themselves with the centralized platform, reducing the onboarding time.
4. Data Integrity: With all data residing within a single platform, the risk of data inconsistency or version conflicts is significantly reduced.
5. Holistic Insights: Comprehensive data and analytics are more readily available when all activities are tracked and managed within one system, aiding in informed decision-making.
Let’s talk practically
You don’t have to give up tools, especially when they are effectively utilized. Instead, consider concentrating the output and even the fundamental usage into a single tool that is employed universally. The two primary tools I prefer to consolidate everything into are the:
Portal (e.g., Backstage/Port)
SCM (e.g., GitHub).
The advantage of centralizing everything into the portal is that every portal user, including those not directly involved in development (e.g., managers), can access the output of various tools. This includes tests, layouts, and even feature branch merges.
Centralizing everything into the SCM offers several benefits. The SCM is a tool that developers consistently access, making it an ideal central hub. Additionally, a wealth of information from tools should be visible before certain operations, such as merges. By centralizing the output of tools into the pull request interface, developers can more easily navigate tasks and even remain within the Git interface without switching to other tools. For instance, if you wish to view the output of a deployment process, you can seamlessly integrate it into Git, saving time that would otherwise be spent navigating the AWS console.
I believe that it’s efficient to perform integrations and consolidation in both the portal and SCM. The user interface (UI) differs between the two, which can be beneficial in various scenarios (e.g. SCM during the development work and the portal for monitoring or day-to-day usage).
What are your thoughts on consolidation? Which tool would you prefer to centralize all the tools and information? Feel free to share your point of view