For a few years now, I have been working on software lifecycle optimization. Through different experiences, I quickly realized that Continuous Integration is an essential process! Indeed, it ensures quality, security, and a good time to market.
Today, I decided to explain what is Continuous Integration (known as CI). My goal is to show you why you should implement CI in your teams ! Your developers will thank you.
What is Continuous Integration ?
Continuous Integration is a practice used in software development. It is actually considered as a vital element in Agile development environment!
It consists in the integration of changes added to your application’s codes in a continuous way. Here, the phase of automated tests is complete integrated to the deployment flow. The objective is to detect and correct as soon as possible potential mistakes.
📢 You don’t have to worry about the number of developers or the frequency of updates : thanks to Continuous Integration, your project stays valid and functional. With CI, you can accelerate your software’s development while ensuring the code’s quality!
Continuous Integration: use case
Let’s imagine this scenario: you are working on a development project, relaying on Git to control your versions. You will constantly need a functional and valid version of your project. This version is contained in the main branch.
📢 Each developer will need to create a new branch, connected to the main branch, to work on specific characteristics and update the code. Thus, once their work is done, they only have to merge their branch with the main branch thanks to a “merge request”!
For example, let’s assume that a developer creates a new branch, adds its changes and breaks some pre-existing functionalities. Because you are not using Continuous Integration processes, your developer does not have tools nor means to identify his mistake. So he will update the project once finished, and cause damages!
His mistake will have several impacts:
You current project version is not functional !
The team will lose time to identify and rectify the problem. In addition, the developer will be pointed at for his mistake, and won’t be willful to work on the next modifications.
Finally, it is needless to say that none of your next branches will be functioning!
You figure it out: a simple mistake can cause a lot of inconvenience for all the teammates, as well as for your solution’s development!
To avoid this scenario, you have two possibilities:
- You can reinforce the validation process at each branch, by designate one or several referees.
However, this solution is not recommended, because it will impact your productivity. Your team does not have the time to control and validate all the branches at each modification: this will echo badly on your time to market.
- Why not adopt Continuous Integration?
Thanks to Continuous Integration, you will execute the validation automatically on the integrality of your project!
With CI, you can execute your pipeline from any branch. Through this way, the new updates will be integrated to the project (through a “Merge Request” or a “Pull request”) ONLY IF all the steps of your CI are validated!
Each project owns its own validation criteria, called jobs, composing the CI’s pipeline. Most common jobs allow to check:
📌 Code quality,
📌 Unity, integration and functional tests
📌 Security checkings (statics and dynamics)
📌 Build, compilation
📌 Requirements scan
📌 License compliance
📌 Secrets detection
As you can guess, there exist a lot of open source tools to execute these jobs. GitHub offers a list, of course non-exhaustive, of tools necessary to your Continuous Integration creation 👇
Continuous Integration benefits
To try it is to adopt it! Continuous Integration brings you a lot of advantages, with positive impact on your product but also on your teams. Only to speak about a few of them:
📌 You give to your developers the possibility to check their work.
📌 By using CI, you improve the code quality.
📌 For your team, you increase the trust degree while avoiding bug’s spreading.
📌 You insure the fulfillment of client’s criteria.
📌 During each update, you can execute quickly a large amount of tests.
📌 Finally, you allow your developers to commit at 100% on their main task: develop!
I think you got it, Continuous Integration is an added value, which increase the degree of confidence and trust in the solution developed.
To conclude, I think it is important to remind that Continuous Integration is simply an assembly of jobs, which can be specialized tools or just script. Through this mean, it aims to integrate and deploy your software continuously, automatically, and in an optimum way!
📢 Each integration is different. It should answer the needs of your teams, your activities, as well as adapt to you objectives and issues!
So, what are you waiting for implementing Continuous Integration in your company?