Wednesday, July 12, 2006

What to do while waiting for a batch process

[This was originally posted at]

Sometimes you'll have local batch processes that block you from development while running. For example, you may have a 20-minute checkout script, a set of longer tests, or a long-running analysis tool. While such tools have benefits, developers are reluctant to use them because they don't want to be blocked from developing. However, there are many constructive tasks you can do while a process is running:

  • If you can choose when to run the process, then kick it off right before you leave your machine:
    • Lunch
    • Meetings
    • Breaks
    • Any legitimate reason for being away from your desk.
  • If the process must be run at a certain time, then you can still do constructive activities while it is processing, like:
    • Design out the next task (read the spec, think out the code, etc...)
    • Catch up on technical, work-related, blogs. You're still using your computer, but the bandwidth is minimal for this kind of reading.
  • Of course, you can always kick off the batch off the clock when you're away from your machine, such as before dinner or even overnight.

The idea is to multitask - the batch process runs in the background (doing useful things that benefit you), and you're still actively thinking in the foreground. It's the best of both worlds.

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