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DDEV, You're Still the One!

It’s been a few years, DDEV, but you’re still the one! It’s been a while since we switched to DDEV from our previous experience of using a “Golden Image” with a VirtualBox VM. As our company grew, it got harder and harder to keep the golden image up to date as well as deploy it across the company, so we had to find something else. We had to swallow hard, and adopt a Docker-based solution that was all the new hotness.

Where Did We Come From?

VirtualBox was great. Truly, it was a great solution. The likes of DrupalVM was truly a boon for developers. Using Ansible it could automatically provision what was needed for Drupal development. We were even a bit of a nudge behind that. But, it had everything in the stack that was needed, and simplified the process of maintaining a stack for local development. And then came Docker.

As mentioned, the previous solution worked, but not ideally. Deployment of the latest image was a pain, often sharing large files over the network or passing it around on thumb drives. This wouldn’t scale very well at all. Not to mention, no one really wanted to take time out of their day to go through the process. And, people didn’t want to be on the hook to troubleshoot something that went wrong.

Where Did We Go?

We looked at what solutions were out there at the time (primarily, we looked at Lando, Docksal, and DDEV). DDEV offers a few advantages over old our paradigm, such as:

  • infrastructure-as-code (ok, maybe not exactly infrastructure, but that main premise): a developer can commit the development environment setup and parameters into the project repo, and all developers can be working off the same configuration, preventing many “works on my machine” issues (of course, never all of them 😁)
  • easy updates: Updating DDEV itself is very easy, and the fact that is does not depend on any particular version of Docker or even a specific docker provider, makes it very easy to use and update. We are all on Macs, and install DDEV through Homebrew.
  • developer self-help: DDEV’s documentation is really quite good. It was always pretty good, but a recent pass through all of the documentation by a community member, who we were able to pay for his effort through the DDEV Foundation, has made it excellent.
  • additional infrastructure: it is also incredibly easy to bolt on additional services with DDEV. Thanks to DDEV add-ons, it’s easy to, for example, add on a local Solr server to use for development.
  • community: I must end on perhaps one of the greatest assets of DDEV–the community. Randy is of course an amazing maintainer, who truly cares about the end users of this project. In fact, he cares so much that there has been a lot of work aimed at making sure that the project can be sustainable without Randy. To me, this is a hallmark of the best in open source thinking (not to mention one of the tenets of “Built to Last,” by Jim Collins).

Where Are We Now?

All this is has led to a very reliable system at scale for Redfin Solutions, LLC. The reduction in overhead from having to maintain a golden image on its own has alone been a huge mental relief, let alone an actual time saver. We would take hours out of our days once a quarter or so to update images; now we just tell the developer to “git pull” and “ddev restart.” Minutes, not hours. I would imagine that if we had not adapted DDEV when we did and scaled with the old mechanism in place, it would have represented thousands of dollars in wasted productivity.

A final thought is that we have leveraged DDEV’s custom commands to fit precisely into our workflow, and there’s a few you can peruse here: - even if they’re not directly valuable to you, maybe it will give you some great ideas about what’s possible! Incidentally, login is my favorite.

Overall, I couldn’t be happier with the choice we made all those years ago. I’m excited to be a part of another amazing open source community. If you, like Redfin Solutions, use DDEV in your daily workflow, you might even consider becoming a sponsor of the project.

DDEV, you’re Still the One!