7 Things to Do Instead of Deploying

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Around this time of year, many companies institute a “code freeze” that puts a stop to new deploys for a certain period of time (often to wait out the holiday retail rush, or until teams are back in full force in the office post-vacation).

While new features may not be going out to customers during this time, that doesn’t mean that meaningful work isn’t happening on engineering teams. This is a time that is full of planning, roadmapping, and setting teams up for success in the coming year. It can also be a fruitful time for personal or team-wide experimentation, goal-setting, and fine-tuning of existing systems (for example, migrating from CircleCI 1.0 to 2.0) In the natural world, winter is a time of rest and resetting. And in our work world of near-constant productivity and 24-hour Slack notifications, taking some time out of the year to slow down and reflect can be a good thing as well.

So whether or not a code freeze is a reality at your workplace, take some time this December to think about your long-term goals, skills you want to learn, or changes you want to make — in your codebase and in your broader work life.

While the sky’s the limit, here are seven suggestions to get you started:

1.Hone your skills. Maybe that means learning a new language you’ve been curious about (perhaps Elixir or Rust). Set your sights and build a sample project. Or to keep your mind sharp as you count down toward the holidays, check out Advent of Code and complete challenging coding puzzles for a variety of skill levels. When the new year begins, you’ll be ready to apply your newfound knowledge.

2.Pay it forward. There are many organizations in need of computer science professionals willing to share inspirational stories, teach, and mentor. Take December to think about where you might want to volunteer some of your time next year. You don’t need to be an expert to be of service! Check out ClojureBridge, Code2040, or other organizations working to improve accessibility in technology. If you’re looking to contribute to some open source projects, explore 24 Pull Requests for suggested projects and helpful guidelines for making your first PR.

3.Have a hackathon. Round up your team and get creative. Hacking on something outside your codebase and building a prototype together is a great way to build camaraderie, learn from each other, and get excited about new product possibilities in 2018.

4.Come together as a team. Take some time with your team to share your appreciation for the things you’ve accomplished together and make some New Year’s resolutions for the year to come. For example, set an intention to work toward blameless post-mortems. Or ensure all voices (even the quiet ones) are heard in meetings.

5.Build coverage. Add code coverage and linting jobs to your CircleCI build. Check out Codecov or Hound CI.

6.Open your doors. Can your workplace host a meetup in the coming year? Many groups, especially newer ones, have a hard time finding meeting spaces or financial resources. If you have room, consider hosting or sponsoring a local engineering meetup. You’ll be helping the community, making connections, and there’s usually pizza.

7.Fine-tune your systems. Take this time make needed changes in your existing infrastructure to hit the ground running in the new year. To improve your CI/CD pipeline, test out CircleCI 2.0. Your team can safely test it in your config while keeping master running on 1.0 while you test out 2.0. Learn all about migration here.

Whatever December brings in your organization, we hope you’ll find time to reflect and appreciate what you’ve achieved this year, plan for a productive 2018, and also enjoy some time off with family and loved ones. And we’re here to help you in whatever way we can to ensure you’ll start off 2018 on the right foot!