When building an application or software, it can be difficult or tedious creating new builds that update upon the last. If you have multiple teams working independently on different branches there’s a chance that when it’s all brought together there will be compatibility issues. This can be due to the integration occurring every month or so, rather than more frequently such as daily.
Integrating new code can certainly be a hassle, if you’re purely into the integration phase then it could take weeks or months to actually figure everything out and produce a working build from all the components being brought together.
But doing this isn’t exactly efficient, now is it? Efficiency is very important and because of that, automation is here to help. The automation you seek or should seek comes in the form of CI/CD or commonly referred to as the CI/CD Pipeline.
The CI/CD Pipeline is the key to automating the development of software via collaboration. This pipeline is made up of Continuous Integration, Continuous Delivery, and Continuous Deployment. Emphasis on Continuous because it’s, well, Continuous, everlasting if you want to use a different word, infinite.
As the name might suggest, everything flows together. You first start off with Continuous Integration then you move onto the delivery and then finally the deployment. This doesn’t necessarily need to be remembered but it’s a good way of visualizing the system to get a gist of how everything melds together to provide an efficient process.
Continuous Integration (CI)
Continuous Integration is the first part of the aforementioned pipeline. This is a practice that allows developers to integrate code into a shared repository frequently, be it daily or even multiple times a day. Once the code is submitted it is then checked by an automated build to check for issues, which will identify problems early on.
This also solves the problem of developer teams each working on their own branch of software in development and then all the teams putting their code together and having to figure out what conflicts and where the issues lie. This process is sidestepped because of the frequent code drop-ins where the problems are found early on.
Doing this also allows for more communication in the sense that the code put into the repository can be viewed by any fellow developer which they can use to alter code on their side to better fit everything as a whole. Just using CI very much makes the development process more efficient and productive.
Continuous Delivery (CD)
After Continuous Integration has been figured out and set, Continuous Delivery is the next step. This is one CD but there is also another CD that is known as Continous Deployment. There are situations where these two terms will be used interchangeably which isn’t exactly wrong, Continuous Deployment just builds off of Continuous Delivery.
These two terms are similar and when used as two distinct terms can help signify the level of automation that takes place. Either way, with CD, the delivery process is automated, the delivery process being the code moving to the production stage.
With CD, a developer’s alterations to code are then bug-tested and uploaded to a repository, automatically, of course. Doing this will ensure that there won’t be any bugs as well as ensure that no delay occurs. In essence, it checks the quality of the code and ensures that it is ready for the production stage.
Continuous Deployment (Also CD)
Which is where Continuous Deployment comes in, the last stage of the CI/CD Pipeline. This stage is where if there is an important change in code, the corresponding build and deployment occur at the same time, possible thanks to the previous systems. At this stage, everything is automated, there’s no manual intervention.
This system makes continuously receiving user feedback as well as incorporating that feedback into the code much easier than if you were to do it without this system in place. The developer’s changes are automatically released from the repository to production as long as it passes each previous stage. Which makes it much faster and easier than without.
What This Means To You
Knowing what goes into the CI/CD Pipeline is important but what you should know overall is that receiving feedback will be faster, there will be greater communication, and bugs will be found quicker.
Using Continuous Integration, you can quickly get feedback on the code you’ve been writing and how it interacts with the system as a whole as well as systems that have been developed by others. Having this allows you to quickly alter your code to fit the system which allows for greater productivity and quality.
With the Pipeline, everything is laid out in front of you allowing you greater communication and visibility with the system. You will be able to see the whole process which can allow you to easily pinpoint sections that should be removed, changed, or exclusively left alone, you would also be able to see test results as well as any issues remaining.
One of the biggest benefits, if not all of these, is that it can detect bugs early on in the code. Having this will forgo the process later on where you have to debug the whole program as a whole as well as figure out if any one part conflicts with another. In other words, having this CI alone would save the developer a lot of time.
Simplifying The Development Process
The development process for anything isn’t exactly easy, but it doesn’t need to be needlessly difficult. There are ways to streamline the process which makes it overall more efficient which allows you to save time and improve the quality. Which are important factors with anything; efficiency is key.
The CI/CD Pipeline is an important tool for any developer. The Pipeline can help get all code from different branches into one repository and can help you ensure that they all interact properly and then from there it can be deployed to a production stage then it can easily be updated as long as the code passes the previous stages, and it’s all automated.