Harbor’s origin is a fairytale instance of the classic “you got your chocolate in my peanut butter” story. Here at Tandem(custom software development company), Codeship has been the continuous integration tool du jour every day since, well since we’ve existed as an organization. On one fateful August 2014 morning our CTO, Joe Hirn, conceived of a native MacOS app that would provide him an at-a-glance view of all our builds. Gleeful thoughts of the swift and merciless punishments he would render for build failures simmered up through his brainpan. Serendipitously, one of our Cocoa developers, Erin, had been looking for an excuse to get Swifty. Condiments collided (? ? ?), and Harbor was born.
Fortuitous beginnings aside, Harbor’s icon is a cute seal (it’s a harbor seal, get it?). It also surfaces our CI notifications with an immediacy that e-mail can’t provide, allowing us to stay in closer touch with our teammates. If a build breaks, we’re able to sync up and resolve it quickly. Less time spent wading through build failures means more time spent developing applications, and that makes us happy. When the build breaks, that red status-bar icon stares you in the face, seething. It’s uncomfortable; you don’t want to let it linger. And the fact that all this goodness happens through a native application means fewer browser tabs, fewer e-mails, less clutter, and a more complete existence. Who doesn’t want all that?
Harbor pulls Codeship smoothly into port. It allows us to focus on what’s actually important–the application and the customer. Sure, continuous integration and deployment is great for evaluating code correctness, but it also ensures that our customers can verify our work at the speed we churn it out. We’d like that to be as fast as possible. Harbor keeps us honest, and it keeps the customer active in the development process. It keeps them engaged, and maintaining the product owners’ engagement is at least as important to the application as the fact that the project compiles or that the test suite passes. Code-correctness doesn’t count for much if the application doesn’t serve the needs of the its users, and that’s a tough nut to crack without continuous verification.
We all want to build applications that users love, that they gravitate towards as naturally as a dollop of peanut butter finds its home in a cup-shaped chocolate vessel. The Codeship and Harbor combo is the confection we’ve been looking for to realize that dream.
You can find instructions to install Harbor (as well as the source code) over on GitHub: