Wikimedia Release Engineering Team/Phab process proposal

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Purpose of this document[edit]

The WMF Release Engineering team does not have a single/unified process for how we manage tasks across/within projects in Phabricator. The current situation was a combination of organic growth and best efforts/ideas. It is also not documented (because it's practically undocumentable)

This document attempts to do two things:

  1. Propose a unified process/description, and
  2. document it on wiki.

Current situation[edit]

We have a team project at #Release-Engineering-Team (aka: #releng)

We have a ton of software projects we maintain (#beta-cluster, #deploy-tooling, #browser-tests, etc, etc etc)

A task can be in any of:

  • Just #releng
  • Just some software project (eg: #beta-cluster)
  • Both in #releng and a software project

There is no consistency and status of a task, for example, a task can be in the "in-progress" column on one or more workboard.


  • Other teams don't know if we're working on something or if we plan on working on it any time soon.
  • It's hard to see what the entire team is working on (or at least, what people are saying they are working on based on assignee status).
  • It's hard to see what the team is blocked on in one place.
  • We're tracking status (eg: "in-progress") on multiple workboards.
  • It's hard to plan the future without mudding up workboards that track shorter term work.


Generally, be more "people focused" than "software focused".

The projects[edit]

Planning related[edit]

Daily task tracking[edit]

  • #releng: Our team board to track work progress/status, eg, the board where the "in-progress" column lives
    • Use this board only for work tasks
    • Examples:
      • "Scap3 should break up remote deploy tasks"
      • "Phabricator needs to expose ssh"

Software projects[edit]

  • These are the usual software projects, eg #beta-cluster, #deployment-systems, or #MediaWiki-Vagrant
  • All tasks should have one of these associated with it. Think of it as the primary home of the task.
    • If one doesn't exist then it should probably be created (is Greg's guess); there are of course corner cases.
  • Do not use those boards to track daily work in progress. In other words, remove the "in-progress" column from these projects (unless otherwise needed) and only worry about dragging a task into an "in-progress" column on the #releng workboard.
    • That information ("in-progress") is still visible to users/others interested. See the next section for further explanation.

The process[edit]

  • Add any task you plan to work "soon" on to the #releng team project
    • Corollary: remove the #releng project to tasks we don't plan to work on any time "soon"
    • "soon" here is not precisely defined, and that's OK. Let's just not have tasks rotting in #releng that haven't been touched for months
  • Drag the task into the "in-progress" column on the #releng team workboard when you start working on it
    • Take task T97464 as an example.
    • Right now the users/others interested in the work see that it is in the "backlog" column of our team project: see this screenshot.
    • When someone begins work on this, they will drag it into the "in-progress" column, which will do two things:
      • 1) it will email all subscribers that someone moved it in the team "in-progress" column
      • 2) Be clear at the topic of the task for new people that it is in the "in-progress" column because of the "(in-progress)" next to the RelEng team project.

What this gives us[edit]

  • One place to look for who from RelEng is working on what right now (the #releng team project "in-progress" column)
  • Clear areas for planning tasks (#releng-epics and the #releng-201516-Q2 etc projects)
  • Corollary to above: No longer cluttering up our #releng team workboard with planning tasks

Workboard Tips[edit]

NB: expand as needed

  • Sometimes a "watching/externally blocked/stalled" column is useful
  • Having the default column be something like "To Triage" and then a "Triaged" column tends to be useful.