Is Continuous Integration a constant trend or a fad?

20.10.2020 Angelika Siczek

Why is Continous Integration such an important issue in the programmer’s work? Because thanks to it, you can significantly improve your work and shorten the waiting time for the project effect, and that’s not all! Find out what Continuous Integration is all about and whether it has really become a permanent fixture in the programming industry, or is it just a temporary trend!


What is Continous Integration?

In free translation, it is the above-mentioned Continuous Integration. It is a programming practice that allows team members to frequently merge their work and update the common repository. The Continuous Integration server operates independently of it and downloads the code from the repository at a certain time. This results in several integrated versions of code that validate the automated build, test, and integration process. If there is an error in the code, team members are immediately notified of the problem.


To let you better understand the issue, we will explain it with an example. Let’s say your development team is working on two different features at the same time. Some of the developers are working on function A, and the other part on function B. To fulfill all assumptions of their projects, they have to update the same files. If they make changes to identical files, in some time it will turn out that the modifications made will have to be combined so that the codes they write will continue to work smoothly. It will take a tremendous amount of valuable time. Therefore, in order to solve this problem, Continuous Integration has emerged.


CI allows the use of a shared source code repository for all members of the product development team. As a result, the changes introduced by them are regularly integrated – often even several times an hour. This means that all programmers involved in the project can keep track of changes and incorporate them into their code work.


What is a Continuous Integration server?

For continuous integration to work properly, you need a continuous integration server, which is a shared code repository that all interested team members should have access to. The purpose of this is to automatically check that each subsequent change made by the developer is integrated with the current version of the code and with all other changes taken into account by other developers.


How does this process work? When a developer submits changes to the code repository, Continuous Integration server detects and downloads the change itself. Then it builds the system, that is, the product, and runs the testing. If it turns out that all the tests are successful (green build), the server will automatically inform the team about the successful completion of the work. However, if it turns out that any of the tests did not finish correctly (red build), the server will let the team know to start solving the problem as soon as possible. It is worth emphasizing that if the source code of a product has not been subjected to the appropriate amount of testing, it is not suitable for Continuous Integration.


What changes does Continuous Integration bring?

There is a group of reasons why it is worth considering introducing a solution such as Continuous Integration. Among them you will find both purely technical and business aspects. Find out about the 6 most important factors.


1. Continuous Integration reduces the risk of integration problems at the end of the project. Therefore, it reduces errors, incompatibility of interfaces, and also a difficult to determine time to integrate the project into a whole.


2. Continuous Integration helps to fix emerging errors. Thanks to it, you can quickly detect a problem and determine its cause. You will find what was last changed and possibly roll back to the version that worked correctly.


3. CI prevents the occurrence of unpleasant surprises and other unforeseen situations that appear as a result of divergences in the work of the developers’ environment and people responsible for production. These are, for example, discrepancies in starting a given language or, for example, non-standard libraries.


4. CI allows you to present the application to the client and consult the changes with him. This possibility appears due to the availability of the last working version of the application.


5. Continuous Integration facilitates refactoring (the process of introducing changes to the project without changing functionality). So you can easily check that everything is working as it should.


6. Continuous Integration relieves programmers from the obligation to perform the same repetitive activities, which, moreover, do not significantly develop the project, and often due to their complexity, consume a lot of time.


Tools supporting Continuous Integration

For the CI process to run smoothly, it is necessary to use some tools. So let’s take a closer look at shared code repositories such as GitHub, BitBucket, GitLab, and Sourceforge. In turn, as the server of Continuous Integration, you can choose: Jenkins, Team City, Travis, Provincial or Semaphore.


What about this CI trend?

You already know that Continuous Integration solves a lot of problems that appear in the daily work of a development team working on one product. It shortens the time-consuming code integration process and prevents errors in it. It is also a great help for the person supervising the project – Project Manager. It enables him to lead the team more efficiently and increase its efficiency. It seems, therefore, that Continuous Integration is not only a temporary trend in the IT industry and that due to its numerous advantages, it will be present in the work of programmers.

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