Sourcegraph Unveils Tool to Automate Code Changes

Content By Devops .com

Sourcegraph announced today it has extended its code search tool to enable enterprises to automate and track large-scale code changes across all repositories and code hosts.

Quinn Slack, Sourcegraph CEO, said Batch Changes makes it possible for a centralized IT or security team to make declarative updates to a specific piece of code wherever it is employed across the extended enterprise without requiring any intervention on the part of a developer.

It presents those teams with a graphical user interface through which they can manage changes through checks and code reviews involving thousands of repositories.

Slack noted Web-scale companies such as Google have already automated the code change process using tools they developed internally. As much as 70% of the code changes made by Google are automated. Batch Changes now brings that same capability to the enterprise, said Slack.

That capability also frees up developers from having to manually fix their own code, a painstakingly slow process that takes time away from developing new applications, Slack noted. It’s not quite clear how enthusiastic developers will be about having other individuals update their code, but Slack said, in general, most developers would prefer to focus their efforts on more challenging tasks.

Batch Changes leverages a universal code search tool from Sourcegraph that is already widely used by Amazon, PayPal, Uber, Lyft, Yelp, Atlassian and Indeed. In 2020, Sourcegraph reported more than 800,000 developers used its universal code search tool.

The company is trying to address a “big code” challenge that has emerged as more organizations realize how dependent they are on software. A recent survey of more than 500 software development professionals across North America, conducted by Dimensional Research on behalf of Sourcegraph, finds half the respondents (51%) now have more than 100 times the volume of code they had 10 years ago. Nearly three-quarters (74%) admit teams avoid updating code due to fear of code changes breaking dependencies, while 85% agreed that existing tools were not designed for this level of software development activity.

More than 60% also reported a significant or dramatic increase in software architectures, supported devices, use of open source, and number of platforms supported. Other challenges that surfaced in the survey include the need for more time for new hires to become productive (62%), code breaking because of lack of understanding of dependencies (57%) and difficulty managing changes (50%).

Slack said Sourcegraph envisions changes to IT organizational structures that will lead to more centralized IT teams being created to oversee code updates. Every time a new security issue arises, those teams could, for example, immediately patch every affected application module used, noted Slack. The potential to take DevSecOps best practices to another level are significant, added Slack.

There’s no reason why enterprise IT organizations shouldn’t have the same software development tools and capabilities as a web-scale company so long as they can rely on vendors to provide them. The challenge now will be modernizing application update processes that, in many cases, have remained unchanged for decades.

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