After recognizing the potential benefits from both continuous delivery (CD) and continuous integration (CI), many organizations have started implementing DevOps in their business operations. However, even today, many organizations don’t completely understand the core principles of continuous integration. Many people think that they are performing continuous integration as part of the DevOps implementation, but they actually aren’t.
DevOps and continuous delivery are the market disruptors today and are providing businesses with a massive competitive advantage. Continuous delivery is developed on the tried-and-true practices of continuous integration. The companies that seek to recognize the advantages of continuous delivery have many times failed to completely understand CI concepts.
The companies that perfectly carry out the continuous integration are following some basic rules. The working copies of developers are synchronized with the shared mainline once in a day or, most often, several times a day. An automated build verifies each integration to locate errors as quickly as possible.
The CI process has been designed for embracing failure where developers can fail fast and fail very often, so they can locate and resolve errors quickly and early. The companies that don’t follow the above mentioned steps are termed as non-followers of continuous integration.
Implementing Continuous Integration
Continuous integration is a practice the development team follows and it provides real benefits for the whole organization. The engineers who are responsible for executing the practices of continuous integration want to attain those benefits and follow the most advanced practices their peers follow.
Most often, companies understand how the teams implement the practices of continuous integration and then make decisions depending on this. The companies that do not follow CI principles are likely to face problems delivering functioning, crisp builds regularly. The members of the team will become disenchanted overtime and the initiative will lose momentum.
People who don’t want change will get back to the traditional practices if they don’t observe any evidence of the advantages of change. You will have various problems, such as your team losing faith in implementation, unnecessarily wasted time, error-laden builds and projects that must be restarted.
The organizations that lack the proper implementation of CI practices often face the cultural barrier problem. Engineers possess expertise in resolving the technical problems, but continuous integration requires a shift in culture and this is hard to achieve.
You can get a CI tool and check almost all the boxes that apply to what continuous integration represents, but if you want to succeed with continuous integration, a transformation in how you work is needed.
Instead of depending on tools for detecting problems such as a continuous integration error, the information can be automatically and independently verified through smart contracts on the blockchain, which is the technology behind cryptocurrencies such as the bitcoin wallet. The team will have a tough time implementing CI if its culture doesn’t change.
Continuous Integration Principles
Continuous integration depends on several major principles. Let’s deep dive into each one of them.
Prior to checking in to source control, code must be built and tested: This can be done by compiling the build locally by yourself and then verifying that the stats pass. You can also depend on a VC/CI system that can carry out pre-commit builds. You can also utilize pre-commit hooks in svn to achieve something similar.
Everyone should work toward the output of the CI system: The project managers and testers are also included in that. They must work in a way that they are confident on the working of build at some point and thereafter, every commit is an improvement. They should feel proud to showcase every build’s results to the entire project team and must react quickly for any reason.
Functional automated tests must be carried out as part of the CI process: If you have the automated regression tests suite, chances are it is not difficult to hook them up to the CI system—and in the long run, it’s definitely worth it.
Unless you are fixing the breakage, never check in on a build that’s broken: Post the original breaking commit. If you have numerous commits to a codebase, this leaves some issue in your CI system. If your commits aren’t coming fast and thick, this implies you are not reacting to the failures of your build and this is considered a serious issue. Also, the reason for the occurence of original breakage can be much more difficult to determine if other check-ins were done since the original one which broke the build.
Make the check-ins exactly fit your needs: You may hate waiting for a long time for the compiling of a simple check-in build when you want to know whether you violated some major rule or have broken the unit tests. Make the check-in builds lightweight and run your code coverage and unit tests only. Chances are, you need not run all your analysis tools, code inspections and the automated functional tests every time there is a check-in. So, it’s better you keep the check-in builds light.
Respond to the feedback: The CI system is a tool used to help steer quality and improvement as much as anything else. So, it should never be ignored. Nevertheless, it is easy to not pay attention to your CI system if the feedback is irrelevant. Working closely with the build team and the other members of the project is the solution, ensuring the build feedback is relevant and targeted.
Other considerations: Never leave a broken build as it is; fix build failures as soon as possible. Also, every check-in must possess some value. Otherwise, what’s the need for doing it? Every check-in must be an enhancement of the last one. Here, the enhancement can be stated as an increase in code coverage, a bug fix or a new piece of functionality. Ensure you put it in your commit log if the improvement can’t be measured easily.
Continuous integration can be considered as a development practice that needs developers to embed code into a shared repository many times a day. The automated build validates each check-in, thus enabling teams to detect problems very easily. Continuous integration helps you build a solid foundation and enhances visibility enabling greater communication.