What is Continuous Integration? Importance, Benefits, and Challenges

What is Continuous Integration? Importance, Benefits, and Challenges

By Simran Arora on Feb 21 2022 | Be the first to comment

DevOps software developers use continuous integration during the integration stage of their software development project. Continuous integration addresses fixing bugs, improving the quality of your software, and decreasing the time required to launch a new update. If you want to enhance your project and create more impactful software for your target audience, then add continuous integration to the list of all the tools you wish to use for your application. This tutorial will help you with all your knowledge to start continuous integration practices. So, let's not delay it anymore.

What is Continuous Integration?

Continuous integration is a method in software development (CI). It suggests that developers frequently use or integrate codes into a shared container multiple times a day. CI has become one of the best practices for software development because it uses a group of key systems, including revision control, builds automation, and automatic testing. Each of the integrations is supported with an automated test and automated build. Even though automatic tests are not a part of CI, it is often implemented. Engineers integrate continuous integration regularly because it helps them find errors quickly and resolve them more easily. Whenever the developers release a new update, continuous integration can find the bugs or errors and pinpoint any specific change that can improve the software quality.

Moreover, continuous deployment and delivery help you create deployable software even when you add your main codebase automatically into the project every time you make modifications to it. This way, you can easily create high-quality software while checking all the standard quality functions. One thing to know is that continuous integration is not there to remove bugs, but it will help you find them and remove them more easily. There are plenty of benefits of using continuous integration, and you should know about the importance first.

What are the Importance and Perks of Continuous Integration?

Continuous integration creates better transparency and anticipation when developing an application and preparing it for delivery. Transparency helps developers make their tasks easier and all the business segments for whom the application is created. The advantages that the organizations get after implementing continuous integration on their software development plan are as follow:

Reduces Risks 

Continuous integration into software development helps with a smoother and effective deployment. Since continuous integration involves continuous testing and deployment of the codebase, it reduces the risk of bugs and glitches. In this process, bugs and errors can be easily detected. The developers can find it easy to fix them with as little time as possible, making the overall development of the software process cheaper.

Better Communication 

CI works with a Continuous Delivery Workflow that helps with simple code sharing that is also regularised. It ensures that everyone working on the same project gets the same amount of information in a small amount of time. Therefore, it makes the development process more transparent and easy to collaborate with other team members. Furthermore, continuous integration is beneficial in the long term to make the communication between the team members speedy and effective.

High-Quality Projects 

With continuous integration, you can review codes and the quality of the codes so that you can identify any errors easily. For example, if the code does not equal the standard level of coding or CI detects a mistake, it will alert you through email notification or SMS. All in all, continuous integration features like code review help the developers with their programming skills constantly.

Less Waiting Time 

It takes a hell of much time to develop an application, integrates it, test it, and finally deploy it. But with continuous integration, the time between each stage is significantly reduced, and likewise, it reduces the waiting time of the result of each step. With CI you can be assured that all these stages will follow gradually but at the right speed.

Increased Visibility 

With CI's automated build and repository, everyone on the team can access the project development process. It helps in working together on the same small issue before it turns out to be a bigger one.

Improves Confidence 

Since the members know that continuous integration will inform them regarding every issue it detects, it builds confidence in the team. Therefore, it produces a better work environment and increases productivity.

But these are the privileges of CI; what about drawbacks?

What Are The Challenges of Continuous Integration?

Continuous integration has some drawbacks, too, and these are what it comes with:

Cultural Changes in the Company

Companies may have to choose members who will help in operating continuous integration. Some companies prefer traditional application testing, and that's why they find it difficult to imply continuous integration methodologies. Some companies also don't want to apply the methodologies of CI because it doesn't meet their immediate requirements, for example, money over essence.

Hard to Maintain

Creating an automated code repository is a difficult task. First, the teams will have to create proper testing and spend some time and effort creating test cases that don't involve developing codes. The process is time-consuming and can also slow down their work progress, and eventually, they might lose confidence in completing their project within time. Moreover, if the testing suite is not proper or stable enough, it could not work perfectly on other days. But some days, it might work. But if the previous scenario happens, the team would have to spend more time sorting out the issues and how to resolve them in less time because they've already wasted much time in the initial stage of app deployment.

Dozens of Error Messages 

Since continuous integration is about checking out the software development process, expect this tool to give you continuous error messages through SMS or email. And this system becomes boring after a while, and after some time, the team members will start to ignore the messages and focus on other tasks at hand. That's why it becomes difficult to detect errors like usual.

With all the benefits and downsides of CI, it works completely fine for those in need.

How Does Continuous Integration Work?

The software's codebase is contained in a shared repository, and developers can easily access it through the "check out" code option from their workstations; CI makes it possible. When the developers are ready with the codes, they push them back into the repository to help it make required modifications. And then, the automated CI server starts working on it automatically by building the system, and it runs the unit and combination tests to make sure that the code does not spread on other parts of the software. If the stage is unsuccessful, the server will find out where the testing process code went wrong, and then the team will then address the issue and start work on the resolution as soon as possible.

Continuous integration works frequently and several times a day which means, the system constantly creates and tests a new codebase. Then the updated codebase can be released manually, or the team can also automate the project by allowing the system to deploy and deliver the software. Since the developers don't have to find where the code is going, the team will save time and resources. Also, don't forget that the process is continuous, so the programmers will not have to work on an out-of-date software program. Programmers won't have to push the changes or rush into it to meet the demands or other deadlines. With CI, the programmers can automate the long-running tasks and apply parallel containers in virtual machines to run tests and builds. Since the tasks are automated, the developers can work on other things while the other processes work in the background. Also, the code is only merged once the build goes through the examination, and there will be less chance of breaking the master code.

Conclusion

No other tool other than continuous integration can help developers simultaneously collaborate and maintain an automated build process while writing tests. That's why having a reliable CI tool is essential for the success of a business. We recommend you use tools used within your build and test of CI. And it may include tools like complexity analyzer, code style, board, task automation tool, browser testing engine, unit, and acceptance testing frameworks, security and performance testing tools, and more. Whatever the tool you choose, make sure that they are universally adopted and well written, and you can easily maintain them. Moreover, a good CI tool will provide instant feedback on the new codes you have written, whether or not they have good quality or have mistakes. Verifying the correctness of your code will help you find bugs earlier and resolve them more quickly.

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