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Benefits of Continuous Integration for your Project

April 4th, 2022

Evgenia Kuzmenko KITRUM Brand ManagerEvgenia Kuzmenko

 

Imagine a team of developers working on the code, each on his or her features. Later the code should be merged but some parts of it may not work together. This is also known as merge conflict. And there are thousands of files on the application and dozens of programmers working on the same code. This may result in what is called a “merge hell”. 

There is a way to avoid this once even a small part of code is written and works, it is submitted to the source control for others to take the given code into work. Other devs working on the given code make changes and additions. It is as if a whole team of programmers was working on the code together simultaneously. If any conflict occurred the development team can sit together and reconcile upon the bag. Regular integration on the code helps to prevent a merge hell. 

But then there is another problem: the whole bunch of people are continuously checking the code in a codebase. Of course, things are going to break, the code will not compile, and bugs will occur, so the whole work will come to constant integrating and fixing. 

But there is a solution. What if we put automation, which always tracks the code. Whenever a developer makes a change in the code, it builds automatically and the Unit test Takes place. If anything fails to work, a team will be notified about it. This is how Continuous Integration works. In the end, the team gets a continuously testable build. 

In this article, we will guide you through the process of Continuous Integration and explain how it may help your company increase the performance of your product, release it faster, gain the appreciation of end-users and reduce costs. 

What is continuous integration? 

Continuous Integration is a part of CI/CD DevOps technique. It simplifies your Agile development by using the right tools to speed up deployment. DevOps extends Agile development all the way into production, using practices that are not present in Agile’s workflows.

The idea is to automatically perform the Continuous Integration step and automatically prepare the project for release to the production server. DevOps takes a build that has already been tested and verified at the Continuous Integration stage and deploys it, so a developer can move on to the next task. If the project integrated various services, then the number of actions performed by DevOps increases proportionally. 

Continuous Integration facilitates the process of merging freshly written code into the main codebase, running various tests, and checking it. After this, if there are no bugs, the new feature will be deployed and delivered to the customer’s production server. It will increase the reliability and stability of releases and speed up the time spent on each stage.

Let’s figure out how the technique of CI/CD works step by step. 

Steps 1: Code

Everything starts with writing code, testing and committing it, and pushing it to Git or any other control system.

Step 2: A system, like Jankins for example, automatically defines changes, which were made within the code and starts testing them.

Step 3: After successful compilation of automatic tests, changes are sent to manual testing. 

Step 4: After QA team tested all the changes a stable release is made. 

Step 5: DevOps downloads and deploys the release branch on the client’s production server. 

Steps 6 and 7: The system monitors the work of deployed product, since something still may go wrong. A signal is sent to a development team if any fixes are needed.  

Continuous Integration lies at the core of all those steps. It works in the following way: all code written by the team is merged into the main information repository. 

Dev is working in his or her local branch. After even a small change is made to the code, he opens a pull request and submits the code review. After this, he successfully passes the changes to the main branch. All other devs do the same. By the end of the day, the branch has a certain set of features or fixes. Every time after the merge, the project should be automatically built and tested, this means that the code is compiled. Automatic tests check various application modules, interfaces, API performance, etc. If something causes an error and the tests fail, the development team will know it before the release. This will not allow functionality that breaks the application to get to the production server and gives the opportunity to fix and stabilize the build. 

Continuous Integration is a kind of safety net that allows avoiding bugs in the production version of the project. There is one condition for Continuous Integration – build testing must occur as quickly as possible in order to make sense. On average, the duration of automated testing should not exceed 10 minutes. Otherwise, development may be dragging in time. 

8 Why’s to implement CI into your project? 

Let’s delve into the benefits of Continuous Integration and how it can take your development environment to the next level. 

1. Smaller Changes in Code

With the help of Continuous Integration smaller pieces of code are integrated. Simpler code changes are easier to test and repair than huge chunks of code. Continuous testing helps to recognize the problem before too much work is completed afterward. This facilitates the work of large development teams, regardless of whether they work remotely or in-house, as communication between team members can be challenging. 

2. Fault Isolations

Fault Isolations help to limit an error in scope, which reduces the potential for damage and makes systems easier to maintain. Fault isolations consist of monitoring the system, and determining when and where the problem occurred. This limits bugs, appearing in the app, in scope. The error is isolated before it can cause damage to the entire system. Continuous Integration ensures that fault isolations are faster to detect and easier to implement. 

3. Faster Mean Time To Resolution (MTTR) 

MTTR helps to track the amount of time spent to recover from a failure, measuring the maintainability of repairable features. Continuous Integration minimizes the MTTR as the code changes are smaller and fault isolations are easier to detect. The monitoring tools find and fix failures fast and help to notice trends, which helps the development team avoid alike errors. 

4. Test Reliability

More accurate positive and negative tests are conducted through Continuous Integration. Thus it helps to increase test reliability. Continuous merging and adding new features with thorough testing will help to create a flawless product, which is the number one priority for the stakeholders. 

5. Faster Release Rate 

Continuous Integration keeps the code in release-state, as it merges and deploys codes without intermission. In a continuously moving system failures are detected and fixed faster. It also gives you the ability to test only the area affected by the release. 

6. Smaller Backlog and higher ROI

Continuous Integration helps to detect small defects reducing their number in the backlog. They can be fixed before the product is released to the end-user. First of all, it will give a better experience to the customer, as he won’t be facing any inconveniences while finding errors in your product. And the satisfaction of the customer is the priority of any development team, as well as of the stakeholders. 

Second of all, your developers will be focused on larger problems or improving the system. As well as testers can concentrate on finding more serious issues, instead of searching for small bugs. Increasing code quality with automation also increases your ROI. 

8. Increase Team Transparency and Accountability

Continuous Integration incites feedback and accountability from your development team. This helps to keep under close control build failures, merging problems, architectural setbacks, etc. 

In the end, your user can get the product quickly and provide their own feedback. Taking it into account your team can make rapid changes, continuously improving the product. 

2 examples of CI\CD tools we use at KITRUM 

At KITRUM we mastered the CI/CD tool and have a strong team of DevOps to manage the process. The real cases of our work speak for themselves.

Working with Freight Center, our task was to rebuild their CRM and shipping software for TMS (Transportation Management System). Implementing CI\CD technique our development team was able to rework the entire system and deliver an efficient solution within just over four months. In comparison, the previous team was working on the project for two years and failed to deliver.

KITRUM began with a detailed code review and deep-dive into the system requirements, both technical and operational. After identifying the issues the team created user stories in Jira and set up the CI/CD pipeline in GitLab. This helped our devs to focus on bigger problems, as smaller errors were identified and fixed in no time. We continued to release new features every week. Aside from that, we improved the final product and reduced overall business expenses. 

And the client’s feedback proves the effectiveness of CI/CD technology:

“KitRUM was able to quickly identify the issues and get the TMS (Transportation Management System) up and running. The project manager was outstanding, and the team provided consistent and real-time updates on all milestones.”

Another example would be Ledgerset case. The company was deploying a blockchain-based system for automating buyer-seller operational connections. The goal was for large markets and small merchants to work collaboratively. If a buyer intends to appoint a company as a supplier, they may send tasks through the Ledgerset platform to assess the company’s efficiency. Companies can also put up details about their offerings on their profile; this information will be used to generate answers to retailers’ questions and queries.

Ledgerset was creating a novel solution, so we needed to deliver an efficient system that would reflect the client’s idea from scratch. The goal was to create a sophisticated, multi-layered system.

The scope of work was massive: building infrastructure (data modeling, security, and authentication, user management), implementing customer-level management features (backgrounds pages, profile pages, and other management pages), transaction sign-off, and Business Outcome (reports, metrics, automated procedures, automated alerts). For this, our development team had to stay focused on understanding the problem that needs to be solved and the major technology solutions it demands. Thus, we decided to automate merge and testing. Here is where the CI/CD approach took place. It helped us to meet our goal of 80% Unit Test coverage through MSTest and 100% Passing tests for all PRs.

Automatization helped our development team put all their effort into continuously improving existing solutions. We managed to finish the innovative project within 7 months. 

How to implement CI in your project?

In order to implement CI/CD tools in your organization, you will need a qualified DevOps, who will manage the software production. The professional will focus on configuration, packaging, and orchestration necessary for creating a more valuable CI/CD practice. The practice of CI/CD in DevOps adds to agile development. He keeps an eye that the merging of code is done on time, notifies the team in case any bugs occur, and is in charge of the final deployment of the product. 

Through years of experience in hiring high-qualified DevOps, who successfully maintained CI/CD technique for our client’s projects, as you can see from the above-mentioned cases. The market now faces a drastic lack of DevOps, but our HR team knows where to find them and how to attract their attention to your project. 

Want to implement CI/CD method to your product development?