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Highlights from the August 2020 office hours

Mike Winters
Mike Winters
August 13, 2020
A recap of Garden's August 2020 office hours webinar

A recording of the webinar is now online, and you can find it here.

On Wednesday, August 12, we hosted our first-ever community office hours webinar. And we had a lot of fun doing it! Thanks to everyone who attended and kept things lively with a steady stream of questions and comments.

In this writeup, we’ll share an outline of what we covered as well as a list of attendee questions that we answered.

We’ll also include timestamps for these different topics (and for each question) so that you can more easily navigate the hourlong recording and find the sections that are most relevant to you.

What’s new in Garden 0.12.X? (2:10): Our CEO and co-founder Jon talked through highlights from Garden 0.12, initially released on June 30th. We covered much of this in a previous blog post, too.

Workflows in Garden 0.12.X (intro at 3:55, demo at 5:30): Our VP Engineering and fellow co-founder Thor introduced and demoed Garden’s new Workflows feature, released with 0.12.0 in June.

Taking a look at workflows, a new Garden Core feature

Garden Workflows in action!

Workflows are a new top-level config type in Garden, like modules and projects. They consist of steps, where each step is either a Garden command or a custom script. These steps are run sequentially and can be skipped via a boolean template expression, and step configs can use outputs from previous steps in template strings.

As for the motivation behind the feature: workflows make it possible to define and run a continuous sequence made up of both Garden commands and custom scripts, such as how to connect to infrastructure before a deploy or what steps should be taken after a build is finished. Using workflows, a user can run the same sequence of steps locally and in CI, making integration tests easy to run consistently both pre- and post-commit.

Sample use cases include:

  • Using a script step to download and prepare files
  • Running tasks before or after tests (e.g. to populate test data)
  • Implementing custom logic for publishing artefacts (e.g. a Docker image or test artefacts)

What’s up next for the open source Garden Core? (intro at 8:50, demo at 13:35): Next, Jon shared a couple of new features and capabilities that are in the works for the open source product, complete with a demo. Highlights include:

  • Dashboard improvements, in particular, a persistent dashboard that makes it possible to keep the dashboard running alongside any other Garden commands you already run. Based on what we’ve heard from the community, we expect that this will make the dashboard much more usable. We also plan on adding options to the project configuration so that you can customize the dashboard, add tabs, and so on.
  • A plugin SDK, making it simpler to create custom module types, extend and support existing module types, and support new deployment platforms beyond Kubernetes.

Introducing Garden Enterprise (24:55): We announced Garden Enterprise on June 30th alongside the Garden 0.12.0 release, and you may have already seen it on our website. In summary, Garden Enterprise is a commercial product built on top of the open source Garden Core (not a fork or a different version of Garden). It provides a unified management layer for Garden, with secrets management, centralized environment management, user management (SSO / RBAC), and direct integration with VCS.

To learn more about Garden Enterprise, you can contact us and schedule a time to chat.

Garden 2020 User + Use Case Survey (31:55): We just opened a short user survey to learn more about how the community is using Garden, both to help us think about the future of the project and to build up our “use case library” of example real-world Garden deployments.

We’d love to hear your feedback, and to make it worth your while, we’ll be drawing the name of one survey respondent to win a pair of fancy Sony noise-cancelling headphones, recommended by Jon himself.

You can find the survey here.

Q & A: Many interesting questions were submitted by users both before the webinar during the signup process and during the live event itself. In this section, we’ll list all of the questions (with timestamps) so that you can locate and listen to the answers that will be most helpful for you.

  • Is Garden working on dashboard performance improvements? With many (more than 100) modules, it’s sometimes unresponsive. (33:30)
  • Is there any work being done to make it easy to use Garden with Gitpod? (35:25)
  • Is there a Garden + Telepresence integration, or any plans to work on one? (36:45)
  • How would you compare Garden Workflows to Github Actions or Tekton Pipelines? (38:20)
  • Is there a way to run Workflow steps in parallel? Our use case is that we created a similar setup with CircleCI jobs/workflows, that looks like 1) build images, 2) test images, 3) deploy images, but 2 & 3 run in parallel to speed things up.(41:30)
  • Do you actually use Garden? ;) (45:20)
  • What’s the pricing for Garden Enterprise (49:15)
  • How would we use Cypress with Garden? (54:40)

Note that in addition to our answer about Cypress, a user wrote in chat, “We used Cypress at some point. We had a container running Cypress tests and the frontend and backend deployments were dependencies of that. Worked like a charm”.

And that’s it for our recap! We plan to host another webinar in the coming month, and we hope you can join us. See you soon.

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