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Continuous Integration

“The key to following the continuous delivery path is to continually question your assumptions about what’s possible.” Says Jeff Sussna


In most of our previous articles, we have talked about continuous delivery pipelines many times and their context of continuous integrating. But what does continuous integration means? In today’s article, we will learn about continuous integration in detail. First, we will see, what’s the issue with typical software development and deployment process have? Then it will be easy to know the use of continuous integration.


A typical software process has three software development teams each working on a specific software module or we can say writing a different code. These modules are the pieces of one complete software written in human-readable languages. They are checked into separate folders or repositories. This checking in the repository is also known as code committing this committing can be done multiple times by every team during sprints. At the sprint end integration team collect these code, merge them and collect them in the mainline repository. These codes are further compiled or built by the integration team and send this compiled code along with deployment instructions to the operation team. Operation teams as per instruction install it in various environments. The issues with this process are

  • Develops high chances of rework and bugs

  • Consumes time in fixing bug making process completion often late

  • Requires lot more effort in fixing bugs and solving merging conflict

  • Difficult to reproduce the compiling code with the same configuration

  • Causes delay as release occurs only once per sprint

Now as we know the issues with the typical process let’s see how continuous integration helps.


What is Continuous Integration?


Continuous integration is a practice of developers developing and integrating a code in a single mainline repository system multiple times a day instead of using a special team for integration. Even though the developers need some extra time to integrate the code but it provides various values.

  • As developers are the ones who developed the code it is easy for them to integrate it as they know the details reducing time.

  • Once merging is done the build is triggered in the automatic build server instead of the personal system making it easy to maintain its configuration. It also provides access to results of build to developers where they can re-verify the code compilation.

  • Success-built triggers automated test on test server ensuring best release possible.

  • This building and testing are completed quickly providing time for developers to fix the faults and deploy software on time.

Even though the continuous integration process looks different for different teams they need to follow some common principles.


Principles of Continuous Integration

Maintain one shared central code repository

The separate team code known as branching should be kept in the source control repository; this repository should be kept to the minimum. These codes need to be merged in the mainline as soon as possible.

Developers should merge their code in the mainline repository frequently

Longer the holding of code with the developer more likely it will be inconsistent with other changes happening in the mainline repository.

Maintaining separate build and test server

To speed up the build and testing for finding errors it is advisable to have separate servers for both processes.

Builds and tests should be automated

Every check-in of code in principle control must be done automatically as there are various continuous integration tools like Jenkins, bamboo, Gitlab, etc.

Use production as a testing environment

And testing environment should be as similar as possible to each other as it ensures the usefulness of test keeping expectations consistent throughout the deployment.

QA should have access to build

With developer QA also must have access to build so that failure for product requirement can be found early.

It is always better to notify developers about the issues as soon as possible so that they can perform early actions on them.


Benefits of Continuous Integration
  • It reduces time and effort

  • Code is always complied and checked

  • Timely feedback for developers provides visibility on the process and errors that occurred.

  • Improves team communication hence improving merging easily and less tricky.

  • Changes can be done more often as teams are provided with short feedback loops.

  • More codes delivered to operations more releases can be achieved.

“It is not the strongest of the species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change” Stated Charles Darwin. Darwin’s statement also applies in agile as here also one needs to keep updating continuously with developed processes and systems. The continuous integration process is updated from the typical process as they provide more benefits and better results.


About Advance Agility

We, at Advance Agility, are the new-age Agile Coaching, Consulting and IT services company. We enable end-to-end Digital Transformation. Agile execution is integral to our being. We are doing SAFe implementation with small, medium and large organization across the globe. Our vision is to be the leading Agile execution player globally. To keep adding value at every process stage. We are on a mission to empower our clients, move from concept to cash in the shortest sustainable lead time by adopting human centric approach to business agility. Embracing the change is in our DNA. Things that keep us apart are Quicker and Seamless execution with End-to-end gamut of services. Our Global presence and Stellar Track Record give us an edge over our competitor.


Connect with us at advanceagility.com to learn about SAFe and SAFe Implementation. Write to us at contact@advanceagilty.com for any agile training or consulting needs. We are always looking for competent agile trainers as well. So if you are a good trainer or want to become one, do get in touch with us to that we can learn, grow and achieve together.

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