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Continuous Integration

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Integrate at least daily

Illustration of Continuous Integration

Continuous Integration (CI) is a development practice that requires developers to integrate code into a shared repository several times a day. Each check-in is then verified by an automated build, allowing teams to detect problems early.

By integrating regularly, you can detect errors quickly, and locate them more easily.

Solve problems quickly

Because you’re integrating so frequently, there is significantly less back-tracking to discover where things went wrong, so you can spend more time building features.

Continuous Integration is cheap. Not integrating continuously is expensive. If you don’t follow a continuous approach, you’ll have longer periods between integrations. This makes it exponentially more difficult to find and fix problems. Such integration problems can easily knock a project off-schedule, or cause it to fail altogether.

Continuous Integration brings multiple benefits to your organization:

  • Say goodbye to long and tense integrations
  • Increase visibility enabling greater communication
  • Catch issues early and nip them in the bud
  • Spend less time debugging and more time adding features
  • Build a solid foundation
  • Stop waiting to find out if your code’s going to work
  • Reduce integration problems allowing you to deliver software more rapidly

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“Continuous Integration doesn’t get rid of bugs, but it does make them dramatically easier to find and remove.”

— Martin Fowler, Chief Scientist, ThoughtWorks

More than a process

Continuous Integration is backed by several important principles and practices.

The practices

  • Maintain a single source repository
  • Automate the build
  • Make your build self-testing
  • Every commit should build on an integration machine
  • Keep the build fast
  • Test in a clone of the production environment
  • Make it easy for anyone to get the latest executable version
  • Everyone can see what’s happening
  • Automate deployment

How to do it

  • Developers check out code into their private workspaces
  • When done, commit the changes to the repository
  • The CI server monitors the repository and checks out changes when they occur
  • The CI server builds the system and runs unit and integration tests
  • The CI server releases deployable artefacts for testing
  • The CI server assigns a build label to the version of the code it just built
  • The CI server informs the team of the successful build
  • If the build or tests fail, the CI server alerts the team
  • The team fixes the issue at the earliest opportunity
  • Continue to continually integrate and test throughout the project

Team responsibilities

  • Check in frequently
  • Don’t check in broken code
  • Don’t check in untested code
  • Don’t check in when the build is broken
  • Don’t go home after checking in until the system builds

Many teams develop rituals around these policies, meaning the teams effectively manage themselves, removing the need to enforce policies from on high.

Continuous Deployment

Continuous Deployment is closely related to Continuous Integration and refers to the release into production of software that passes the automated tests.

"Essentially, it is the practice of releasing every good build to users”, explains Jez Humble, author of Continuous Delivery.

By adopting both Continuous Integration and Continuous Deployment, you not only reduce risks and catch bugs quickly, but also move rapidly to working software.

With low-risk releases, you can quickly adapt to business requirements and user needs. This allows for greater collaboration between ops and delivery, fueling real change in your organization, and turning your release process into a business advantage.

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Our Continuous Integration product

We didn't just write the book on Continuous Integration. We also made the best build and deployment pipeline for on-premise and cloud in GoCD.

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Go. Deploy a great product faster

After many years of working with customers to construct deployment pipelines, ThoughtWorks developed Go as the first tool designed specifically for the practice of continuous delivery. It automates and streamlines the build-test-release cycle for worry-free, continuous delivery of your product. Go is now open source and free.

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Are you ready to be certified for Continuous Integration?

Read Martin's Blog

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Read the books

Continuous Integration: Improving Software Quality and Reducing Risk by Paul M. Duvall

Improving Software Quality and Reducing Risk by Paul M. Duvall

Continuous Delivery: Reliable Software Releases through Build, Test, and Deployment Automation by Jez Humble and David Farley

Reliable Software Releases through Build, Test, and Deployment Automation by Jez Humble and David Farley

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Watch these videos

View a one-hour summary of Continuous Delivery by Jez Humble and Martin Fowler recorded at YOW Melbourne.

View a one-hour summary of Continuous Delivery by Jez Humble and Martin Fowler recorded at YOW Melbourne.

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Jez Humble interviews Michael Rembetsy, Director of Operations Engineering at Etsy, which manages to be PCI-DSS compliant while practicing continuous deployment

Jez Humble interviews Michael Rembetsy, Director of Operations Engineering at Etsy, which manages to be PCI-DSS compliant while practicing continuous deployment.

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What next?

Have it all. Get ahead of competition and make your release process a business advantage.

More about Continuous Delivery