The modern software development and deployment process known as continuous integration/continuous deployment, or CI/CD, promotes the practice of continuously pushing new commits to repositories and pushing those updates straight into production. In contrast, batching deployments into two-week sprints is preferred by other well-known development approaches, like agile. Both approaches have benefits and drawbacks, but over time, CI/CD pipelines have gained a lot of traction among software development teams. Continue reading to find out how to set up a CI/CD pipeline and why your project can benefit from it.
Defined by CI/CD
Although the phrases “continuous integration” and “continuous deployment” (CI/CD) are sometimes used interchangeably, they refer to separate ideas. It is more common to encounter CI/CD than either of them alone because they are frequently employed in tandem.
There are a lot of different schools of thought when it comes to producing software, especially when working in teams of engineers. The global epidemic and the increase in remote employment have made this more crucial than ever. How can code merging disputes be avoided and repositories kept up to date when teams might not be located in the same building or nation?
Sometimes there will indeed be code clashes. How do you decide which modifications to keep when two developers check out the same script and make different edits to the same line of code before submitting it back to the repository? One issue that continuous integration attempts to address is this one. Because components in agile development are typically constructed at the feature level, a feature that affects multiple files can be fetched from the main repository and not pushed back for a day or several days. Teams must either devise an access priority system or schedule development so that developers do not wind up working on the same file at the same time should another developer need access to the same files.
A development process called continuous integration promotes creating and committing minor changes to the main repository regularly. Little to no code should be changed, and when it does, it should only affect the current feature or problem that is being worked on. This greatly simplifies the testing and release of new features and offers better granularity in the rare event that a rollback is required.
Code merge conflicts reduce the likelihood of small, frequent commits with a narrow scope that are quickly pushed back to the repository. These conflicts might negatively affect developer velocity. It maintains the main repository running the most recent code at all times and makes it simpler to push individual commits to production or roll them back. These factors have led to the rise in popularity of continuous integration as a modern development technique.
The continuous delivery side is the other half of the CI/CD coin. This is also known as continuous deployment at times. Although they are not completely interchangeable, both terms are quite closely similar. The distinctions between continuous delivery and continuous deployment are explained in our earlier essay. We’ll limit our discussion to continuous delivery in this article.
Since continuous delivery is essentially a logical extension of continuous integration, it is no surprise that CI and CD are used together so frequently. End users should benefit from new features and code updates as soon as they are ready if continuous integration is defined as ensuring that a project’s codebase always contains the most recent version of the code.
Thinking back to the agile methodology, changes are implemented throughout two-week sprints in huge batches. Even if a feature is finished early in a cycle, it won’t be sent to production until the testing and development stages are finished. While there might not be a valid cause for a feature to not be released sooner, deviating from the scheduled sprint stages is challenging and discouraged. As a result, features may be unnecessarily delayed and end customers may have to wait longer to begin using new features when using an agile methodology. Even one more week of delay can result in a competitor gaining ground in a very competitive market.
Consequently, continuous delivery promotes committing changes from continuous integration to production as soon as they are received and validated. This eliminates fictitious hurdles to the introduction of new features and ensures that your end customers are always using the most recent production builds. When new features are regularly developed and published, continuous delivery can give teams a competitive edge in highly competitive marketplaces.
Pipelines for continuous integration and delivery are seldom executed manually because of the dramatically higher frequency of commits and the rate at which commits are pushed to production. Beyond what has already been mentioned, the automation of the CI/CD pipeline is where the true benefits of CI/CD lie.
The Advantages of CD/CI
Reduced code merge conflicts and increased commit granularity, which facilitates the ease of pushing and rolling back minor changes between branches and repositories, are only a couple of the advantages of continuous integration and continuous delivery (CI/CD). Development teams will certainly appreciate a more seamless pipeline from development to deployment, but what appeals to them about CI/CD is how well it functions as an automated process.
Your team can save a substantial amount of manhours by automating your CI/CD workflow instead of spending it on merging code commits and pushing code to production. Because it occurs every two weeks when done as part of an agile process, teams have plenty of time to complete it by hand. But in a CI/CD environment, integration, and deployment happen so much faster that manual processes just can’t keep up. For this reason, a large number of teams have decided to automate their CI/CD pipeline.
By doing this, teams are also able to shift their attention from the procedures involved in creating and implementing the business product to the product itself. Developers can simply push commits whenever they’re ready once a pipeline has been set up. When the tests are complete, these commits are automatically pushed to production. A CI/CD pipeline requires some setup work, but if it’s done, maintenance is comparatively easy.
Putting Your CI/CD Pipeline in Place
Thankfully, there are a ton of resources and technologies out there that make setting up a CI/CD pipeline simpler than it has ever been. Some of the services available for CI/CD automation are as follows:
- GitHub Actions
While the implementation method for each tool and service will vary, GitHub Actions, for instance, makes it easy to set up a continuous integration and development (CI/CD) pipeline directly from within your repository. GitHub Actions can be made via an API or GUI, and they can be hooked onto nearly any event that is associated with your repository. You can write an action to be executed whenever a push is performed to a repository. From there, a.YAML file can be programmatically inserted with a list of jobs to run and any necessary dependencies.
It is feasible to build, test, and publish across several platforms in a single workflow, which greatly minimizes the complexity involved in doing so by hand. These steps can also be introduced programmatically and changed as needed at any moment. This simplifies the build and deployment procedure itself and codifies it so that the necessary steps for the build, test, and deploy process can be stated clearly. These procedures are not susceptible to any of the problems that come with manual deployment procedures, like forgetfulness and human error.
Enhance Your Deployment by Using a CI/CD Pipeline
Reducing merge conflicts, increasing developer velocity, and substantially shorter software development life cycles are just a few advantages of integrating an automated CI/CD pipeline into an agile project. But it does take some retooling and retraining; it’s not just a drop-in replacement. It can appear like a significant upfront cost, which would first discourage some team leads from considering CI/CD implementation.
In that scenario, ProdPerfect might be able to assist. We have assisted clients who are highly skilled and progressive in moving from a slower agile approach to continuous integration and delivery (CI/CD). We have done this by managing an E2E testing layer that tests each build to support CD. CI/CD pipelines are becoming more and more common in modern software development, but making the switch requires careful thought and consideration of several factors, including pipeline setup, testing integration, external API calls, and more. However, there’s a major reward: One of the key benefits of CI/CD pipelines is that, once set up and running, developers can easily integrate them into their everyday routines with little need for ongoing maintenance.
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