Developing a piece of software is a collaborative effort of the Development, Testing, and Maintenance teams. Even within the Development team, several developers work simultaneously on different parts of the code to update it and introduce new features.
Therefore, a system of continuity and transparency needs to be installed to ensure that everyone in the team knows what every other person is doing.
Continuous Integration is a software practice that ensures that all the individual changes introduced into an application are automatically merged into the source code. Every time a new change gets introduced, all the individual developers are notified to minimize scope for errors.
In this article, let us take a look at some of the crucial stages of continuous integration and their role in the software development process.
- Pick a development strategy: The Development team must first decide on a development framework before starting their job. Development frameworks vary in terms of their approach and processes. Based on the project and established work processes, they could choose from Traditional (Waterfall), Agile (SCRUM), Lean (Kanban), or Iterative (Unified Process) models.It is important that the framework chosen is accepted and understood by the rest of the team to eliminate any scope for communication problems.
- Select a build automation tool: Build automation tools such as Jenkins, TeamCity, Ant, etc., are important to streamline all the development processes. A build automation tool functions as a dashboard that records and notifies all the team members of the individual changes introduced into the source code. It also displays a set of build steps, upon the execution of which the product gets ready for release. The build automation tool also displays the status of each step so that all the team members remain on the same page.
- Master version management: As new changes get introduced into the source code, the software’s functionality may change. So as to make sure that further changes to the code are compatible with the new version, version control is important. This is also important for locating and fixing bugs in the various software versions.A good version management tool helps each team member keep track of the changes being introduced by every other member in the team. Organizations can choose from an attractive array of version management tools such as Git or Subversion.
- Enable test automation: A software evolves over a period of time as new features get introduced into the source code. This time period is known as the build time. As the software progresses through each stage, it is important to test every new feature for its optimal functioning. This is why test automation is necessary. A number of open source test automation tools such as Selenium, TestNG, AutoITScripting, etc., are readily available for developers today. Using the right test automation tool helps improve quality and reduce build time.
- Construct a test environment: To make sure that the final version of a piece of software functions as intended, testing is important. However, selecting the right testing environment is also crucial to ensure that the tests are accurate. When an application gets released, it is used on different devices and operating systems. The right test environment makes it possible for developers to test the software’s compatibility with all these different environments.Constructing the right test environment is also important to minimise intervention in test environment during the test phase. This is needed to ensure that the test results are clear and non-ambiguous.
Though these are important stages of the continuous integration and testing processes, readers must note that the steps vary according to individual project requirements. It is, therefore, important for developers and testers to select and execute those stages that are necessary for their respective projects.