Can you end code freezes?

September 22, 2021

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At the first company where I worked as a programmer, every few months we'd declare a "code freeze." During this time, we were preparing for a release, so no new changes were allowed into the code, except bug fixes found during testing of the release.

It took me a while to realize that for the kinds of software most companies produce, this is actually an anti-pattern. What’s the alternative? Trunk-based development. I’ve talked about it before, but a passage in Accelerate drew my attention to this again:

[High-performing teams] had fewer than three active branches at any time, their branches had very short lifetimes (less than a day) before being merged into trunk and never had “code freeze” or stabilization periods.

Does your team face code freezes? If so, what’s preventing you from using trunk-based development and continuous integration to thaw your code once and for all?

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