The Home Office has written publicly about the benefits and difficulties of sharing code between IT projects.
The details can be seen as the next step in the government agenda to encourage departments to embrace digital transformation and transparency.
Jonny Cavell, technical lead for the Registered Traveller project at the Home Office, wrote about the code-sharing in the government's Digital Transformation blog.
He said re-using code from existing projects had saved the department time and allowed the project to get up and running more quickly.
Later in the development process, the Registered Traveller code was continually merged with code from a previous project, Visit Visas and Immigration (VVI). This took three days, but allowed the IT teams to consider extra features and incorporate different bug fixes, said Cavell.
Cavell was open about the difficulties his team had faced from merging code. “It became more difficult to merge without creating issues. We only merged code in one direction – from the VVI team’s alpha to ours, and not the other way round."
"Along with increasing ‘code bloat’ and a risk of regression, there was the knowledge that If VVI did a large refactoring, we’d be stuck,” he noted.
Cavell said the Home Office would continue to share code in the future, but may not do a full merge again. “We still want to share code, but we think we’ll need to do it in other ways. This might be by cherry-picking certain features. It might be by recommending that we split off various components (like payment) into libraries which we can include,” Cavell added.
The government laid out the Government Digital Strategy and Digital Efficiency report in November 2012.
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