Continuous integration (CI) is an approach that allows teams to automate the process of software development by utilizing specific methodologies, tools, and applications that help developers to make changes to their code more quickly and more easily. With the CI approach, software is produced in short cycles, ensuring reliable and regular releases.
It’s well known that CI brings value to the development process, and there are many advantages of continuous integration. But based on Exadel DevOps team experience using CI with the clients, we’ve selected and analyzed specific continuous integration benefits that are essential for development teams and then highlighted the positive aspects that prove the importance of continuous integration for businesses.
Benefits of Continuous Integration: What Development Teams Get out of CI?
Having a well-defined CI structure makes it easier for development teams to detect errors earlier, catching bugs before they can make it to product releases. This makes the entire process of development faster and more predictable.
The GitFlow workflow is a CI approach widely used to help guarantee the quality of a product. GitFlow allows a large number of developers to work on a large number of tasks simultaneously, without interrupting each other’s development process. Code is divided into branches, and each branch is developed separately. Later, the code is blended back into the final code. GitFlow helps the team in their final code review, confirming that all changes in syntax and layout are appropriate and can be merged and applied to the basic product. GitFlow allows teams to move changes to production faster, significantly accelerating overall development .
Decreased Human Errors
Back when CI wasn’t widely used, the development process took on a number of distinct stages: developers built the code manually, packaged the application, published it, tested everything, and then the operations team could deploy everything to the servers. This method is often more time consuming as the rate of error is higher and these errors are generally detected later.
Using CI methodology the process takes on a different shape: developers write the code, it goes to the CI system (for example Jenkins or Bamboo). The system then builds the code. The code is reviewed (for example with SonarQube or Codacy) and is then checked with tests like Selenium Grid, JUnit, and Cucumber.
If errors are detected in the testing phase, the immediate feedback allows the team to zero in quickly into what exactly needs to be changed. Detecting issues early not only decreases the rate of human error, but streamlines the process and increases the overall quality of the product.
These were the advantages of continuous integration from the developers’ point of view. Now let’s look into the continuous integration benefits from the businesses’ point of view.
Benefits of Continuous Integrations: What Business Gets out of CI?
Faster Time to Market
With accelerated development, CI saves time on final product delivery to market. This capability allows companies to stay one step ahead of the competition.
Building the Right Product
Frequent releases let application development teams obtain user feedback more quickly. This feedback tells developers what features their end users really want, so they focus on what’s important.
Improved Productivity and Efficiency
Automation and the use of the associated tools like Jenkins, SonarQube, and Selenium Grid saves working time, so resources like developers, testers, and operations engineers can be used far more effectively.
CI significantly decreases the risks associated with releases as the release process becomes more reliable overall. With CI, the deployment process and scripts are tested separately before deployment to production, so most errors in the deployment process and scripts are discovered in advance. With more frequent releases, the number of code changes in each release decreases, making finding and fixing any problems easier and thus reducing the time in which they are impacting the product.
Improved Product Quality
The number of open bugs and production incidents decreases significantly. This enhances product quality, in turn, increases the level of customer satisfaction.
Keep in mind these benefits of continuous integration from the developers’ and businesses’ point of view and improve your software development process.
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