Continuous Integration – 5 best practices and tools

Continuous Integration
Once upon a time, software development used to be a one-man’s job. Today, it is not.

It has become a multi-coordinated team effort, where every phase of the production process consists of a list of tasks, taken care of by a group of experts using tools specific to their needs.

However, lack of coordination and leadership conflicts have restrained the growth of many organizations and their dream to stay one-step ahead of the race in the market.

The result – a one big black hole of information silo that even tools offering comprehensive facilities for automation infrastructure cannot solve, let alone orchestrate.

Wouldn’t it be great to have all these tools synced with each other to break down the Great Wall of information silo? For that, you need continuous integration.

Importance of continuous integration (CI) in software development

Continuous Integration happens when the best software development practices like source control, build automation, auto testing, automated deployment, commits to the baseline and documentation are combined to form a unified service.

While there are different tools that could be used to implement these practices, integrating all of them at every step in the production process is a question of big concern. That is because many of these tools are of open source origin.

Introduction of Enterprise Service Bus platforms like Kovair Omnibus has enabled many forward thinking teams to not just discover seamless integration but also identify problems at a very early stage. This has brought complete control over the entire system and has enabled organizations to deliver quality software on time and with greater assurance. Are you sure that you are using the right tools at every phase?

In this article, let us discuss some of the practices and tools that could help you to achieve the desired result –

  1. Source Code Control

Source code control is the heart of any continuous integration system. It serves as the main repository for the code after a developer modifies it and checks in. The greatest benefit of using version control tools is that it enables multiple teams to work on the same code base without worrying about the files being delivered back and forth.

The source code control provides the important hooks that could automate pieces like unit testing.

As a result of this, regular and frequent check-ins allow the testing system to scan the entire code base for problems and raise flags on time whenever a bug gets detected. The benefit of the source code control is that it helps to reduce the overall cost of software development, while raising the ROI of the team. Most importantly, it allows you to proceed to the next phase (Build Automation) easily.

Recommended tool names for source code control management

  • Gerrit
  • GIT/GitHub
  • IBM RTC
  • MS TFS
  • Perforce
  • SVN/Subversion
  • VSO
  1. Build Automation

This refers to the automatic trigger of build, assimilating all raw components and building a cleaner version of your product, application or website via a single action. The biggest advantage of build automation is that it can cut down a 30-minute task into several seconds, thereby encouraging developers to follow a clean pattern of production, staging, or development of build.

The efficiency and ability with which it gets new employees up and going with the environment is what makes it well worth it. Build automation allows you to automate the deployment of your product application.

Recommended tool names for Build Automation

  • ANT
  • Cloudbee Jenkins
  • Jenkins
  • Maven
  • MS Build
  • TeamCity
  1. Automated Deployment

Automated deployment is the process of consistently pushing a build product to various environments. The benefit of such a service is that it enables you to quickly learn every time a build is deployed, thereby saving the development team from frequent errors and headaches.

Automated deployment enables teams to automate the contingency plan and roll back the site to a previous or working state. It is extremely valuable since it allows sites and applications to continue during fixes. In addition, contingency plans could be version controlled, improved, and self-tested.

Recommended tool names for Automated Deployment

  1. Unit Testing

Many teams follow a two-pronged approach to unit testing. The first prong is the developer running the test manually. It is helpful in creating the code. However, developers need to remember running the test before proceeding to check-in. It is the second prong that helps to overcome this shortcoming via automated unit testing and reporting.

The biggest advantage of unit testing is that, it can prevent a code from check-in in case it fails to qualify the unit-testing round. However, unit tests can also be run after a code has been checked in. In either case, unit testing helps to keep the developer in loop so that he or she can quickly fix them.

Recommended tool names for Unit Testing

  • JUnit
  1. Documentation

A good API documentation is always invaluable to developers. This is true when new developers are frequently moving on to a new project or picking up one after having spent a long time away from it. Documentation is a method that allows information to be automatically parsed by appropriate systems, thereby enabling automatic generation of comprehensive set of project documents.

Recommended tool names for Software Documentation

  • Apiary
  • Atlassian REST API Browser
  • Process Street

So… what Continuous Integration tools are you using?

When choosing tools for CI, there are several factors that you need to keep in mind. However, if you feel the need of some assistance, do not hesitate to reach out to Kovair experts for help. We are always there to help you out.

Continuous Integration plays a very important role in streamlining the software development practice and adoption of the best CI practices can help teams achieve overall efficiency and agility. While the above-mentioned points are only a few, let us hope it gives you a clue in case you have not thought about it yet.

Riya Ghosh is Technical and Web Marketing Writer at Kovair Software. She takes keen interest in areas related to ALM, DevOps, Search Engine Optimization, Web Design, Video Communication and conceptualization. When she is not writing, you will find her busy clicking pictures of whatever grabs her interest.

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