I was reading a blog yesterday about “The sad state of open source monitoring tools” and was thinking about it for some time. Coincidently today I had a chance to look at my CruiseControl configuration files, which I wrote quite a long time ago.
I really love the DSL that CruiseControl is using for it’s configuration, it’s extremely powerful at describing how to build projects. Especially powerful are the variables, that unlike in Ant are not immutable, and the way plugins can be pre-configured with your own defaults, as well as renamed to other names. It’s really easy to configure it in such a way that adding a new version for a project is just 1-3 lines of XML, for example
<xxx-project name="XXX v6.66">
<property name="version" value="6.66"/>
Just in those 3 lines, the pre-configuration already includes all the information about the project. Where it is at, who to send e-mail to, where is the version control, EVERYTHING! If the only variable that changes over time is the version number, then that is all you need to leave as a variable … everything else is just a template that can be re-used. And these templates are extremely easy to combine from smaller templates, it’s a template-in-the-template kind of configuration.
IMHO this would very much apply to configuration of monitoring software, like nagios for example. And the way the (CC) plugins are written in java – adding new plugins that check all kinds of esoteric things is really easy to do.
If it would also have the XML/XSLT configuration of how the web-interface looks like (the way CruiseControl does), and the super-easy installation (again like in CruiseControl). It would be a really really really great product, extremely powerful, easy to configure, and potentially great looking.
If only ThoughtWorks would write such a thing … I would be thrilled!
Actually nagios is already extremely similar to what I described, but for some strange reason I find the rigid configuration of nagios a large PITA. Maybe some-day when time stops and I will have unlimited time to code, I will do it myself.