Continuous integration (also known as CI) is the process of automating the building and testing of code – each and every time someone changes to version control, everyone else knows about it. Continuous integration encourages teamwork and collaboration by sharing codes and unit tests, merging them into one shared version after tasks as completed. When that code is committed, an automated system is triggered that will grab the code and build, test, and validate the master branch (trunk).
Continuous Integration best practices allow software developers to work together, bringing them out of isolation and encouraging integration and collaboration. Continuous integration deployment puts codes together instantly, allowing the team to spot conflicts, diverging strategies, and problems to be fixed when they are still young. Even better, it reduces duplicate work that can slow down development.
Continuous integration works when the team is merged into a version control branch, which does require some changes to the way a team operates, but the benefits are there.
CI helps to keep the master branch clean. When using CI, teams leverage modern version control systems to help create feature branches that isolate work and make it easy for everyone to work. The developer signals that the feature is complete and then it gets merged with the master branch. Development teams will repeat this for all additional work.
Continuous integration has many benefits, including a focus on working as a team instead of working as an individual. Even more, it ensures that everyone is on the same page and creates a feeling of mutual support.
From a development standpoint, implement CI ensures that all bugs are caught much earlier in cycle, making them easier and less expensive to fix. Most importantly, automated tests run for every building, ensuring consistent quality.
Continuous integration and continuous delivery are often mentioned together, especially when talking about development methodologies. CI is fairly straightforward, making it easier to prepare a product for release. Continuous delivery and continuous deployment are also used together, and do have a lot in common, but there are many differences as well.
Continuous integration: Continuous integration merges changes back to the main branch as much as possible. The changes are validated using automated tests. It puts a great emphasis on the testing so that everything is high quality when released.
Continuous delivery: Continuous delivery acts as an extension of CI, ensuring that you can release all of the new changes that you have to your customers in a sustainable way. It automates your release process and gives you the choice of manually deploying your application as well.
With continuous delivery, you can schedule release dates that suit your development cycle, but the idea is that you can release in small batches that make it easy to find and fix any problems that could arise.
Continuous deployment: Continuous deployments extends continuous delivery. With CD, every change that happens throughout the production pipeline ends up with your customers through a release. This is all completed without human intervention. If there is a failure somewhere along the line, someone will need to step in, but everything is automated if there aren’t any problems.
Continuous integration is a great way to bring your team together through collaboration, and with continuous deployment, you can accelerate the feedback look from your customers to your team. This will speed up your development cycle and impress your clients even more.