What is CI/CD?

CI/CD Pipeline

The rapidly increasing speed of tech evolution is known to everyone. Despite working tirelessly, the balance between the demand, development, and delivery of tech products is getting really hard to maintain. Well, it would be even harder if the savior named CI/CD was not there. It has been supporting the tech world in ways more than you can imagine. So, let’s know more about it to utilize this blessing in a much better way.

CI/CD stands for Continuous Integration and Continuous Delivery (or Continuous Deployment). It is a system or culture based on the objective of maintaining a great flow through the steps i.e. integrating new codes, developing the products, and deploying them into the market. You can call it a modern-day approach to streamline the complete journey of tech products making it less time & resource-consuming and overall more efficient.

CI or Continuous Integration

Continuous Integration enables developers to build, run & test the code, and then integrate it into the main branch of the repository. They become free to integrate frequently rather than creating several branches to test the codes and integrate them by the end of the cycle. As CI allows the developers to integrate their code more frequently, it becomes easier for them to identify the boundary conflicts between new and existing code in less time. Hence, eventually, the process of resolving those conflicts becomes easier and more cost-effective.

A definition by the people at ThoughtWorks describes Continuous Integration as a development practice that requires developers to integrate their code into a shared repository multiple times a day. An automated build verifies every check-in of the developers and allows them to detect the problems earlier.

Now, CI can provide ease in the development operations only if its steps are properly executed. The product team, especially the developers have to go through the following steps to achieve the best results through Continuous Integration.

  1. The development team goes through the code from the repository as whatever actions they need to perform on it, they have to do it locally.
  2. They analyze the source code and decide what needs to be done on it.
  3. They create a new branch to work on the features in an isolated environment.
  4. When they are done with their coding works, they start locally testing the codes in their own development environment.
  5. Once all the tests show the best results, the codes in the isolated branches are committed back to the main repository.
  6. Now, another tremendous part of the CI process begins. When the changes are pushed to the repository, a CI server checks them out and initiates its “Build & Test” system. That means the CI server builds the entire system on the developer’s isolated feature branch and runs all the unit and integration tests to ensure that all the primary processes are working fine.
  7. Then the CI server generates deployable artifacts and reports the results of the integration tests to the product team. The four most common outcomes of the tests are -
  • Failed build.
  • Successful build.
  • Failed tests.
  • Successful tests.
  1. If any failure is reported by the CI server, the dev team fixes it as soon as they can.
  2. Then the code is committed again.
  3. As long as the development works are going on, the dev team continues to perform steps 3-9.

These steps may differ a bit depending on which testing tool you are using. However, the following principles of CI will remain constant irrespective of the tool being used.

  1. The source code needs to be checked frequently.
  2. The test and build portion should be automated to achieve the best results.
  3. The code must always be checked locally first.
  4. Any failed feature branch should never be merged with the main branch.
  5. If you have caused the failure in the “Build & Test process”, you must set the status of the branch to successful.
  6. In case of any failure, the top priority must be correcting it as soon as possible.

Continuous Delivery (or Continuous Deployment) (CD)

Now, smoothly developing and maintaining products does not complete the job. They will mean nothing if the products are not delivered conveniently. So, basically, Continuous Delivery means keeping the products ready to release and ensuring immense ease in deploying the products more easily and efficiently at any point in time.

Well, for better understanding, CD can be termed as an extension of the Continuous Integration process. It deals with the next set of steps in the complete software development and delivery process. The main purpose of the Continuous Delivery process is to always maintain a deployable codebase. This maintains an efficient routine in the software release process and exempts the production team from the stress and anxiety about the deployment. They stay confident that they can deploy a production-grade release at any time without the hassle of repeating lengthy, inefficient tests.

As we mentioned earlier, CD is basically all about maintaining the smoothest delivery process of a tech product and keeping a production release always ready. Hence, its foundation is based on a central deployment pipeline used by the product team for automating the testing and deployment processes. The main task of this pipeline is to automate the execution of a couple of progressive test suites against the build to keep a codebase ready to deploy. The most common tests that are performed during the CD process are system testing, unit testing (including API testing and load testing), and integration testing. The Continuous Delivery process is really easy to automate and also easily configurable in some cloud-computing environments.

The steps that are run throughout the CD process are -

  1. The CD pipeline executes the specific set of progressive test suites.
  2. If any test case fails, the product team will be automatically alerted.
  3. The team will resolve the issues as soon as possible.
  4. For no issue in the test suites, the execution of the test suites will continue. Otherwise, steps 2 & 3 will be repeated.
  5. After all the test cases are efficiently executed with positive results, a build will be deployed to a production-equivalent environment.

We can clearly see how the CD process ensures that there is always a build ready that can easily be deployed and verified in an actual production environment. It is indeed an essential phase to keep your business running smoothly.

Continuous Deployment

Though the world lives in a massive dilemma about considering Continuous Delivery and Continuous Deployment as the same phase, there are some minor yet significant differences between them. While Continuous Delivery is mainly concerned with always keeping a good build ready to be released, Continuous Deployment is more focused on automating the steps for releasing the good build to the production environment. The objective of Continuous Delivery was to reduce the overall time for testing the production releases, resolving the issues, and maintaining the delivery chain intact. And, all these can be done within less time only if the complete process is automated and Continuous Deployment is all about that.

The task of the Continuous Delivery pipeline is to ensure that the software build passes all the tests and the Continuous Deployment works on automatically deploying the build components/packages exiting the Continuous Delivery pipeline. The product teams usually have the goal of configuring the Continuous Deployment process for the fastest distribution of features, components, and fixes to the customers. It also helps in having clarity about the build that has moved to the production stage.

As Continuous Deployment focuses on providing immediate feedback to the product team and ensuring that the users get the best experience, it is a great necessity for large companies with numerous clients. This system enables the team to receive quick user responses on not so useful or misunderstood features so that they can shift their focus to the functional areas that will justify their investment better. Hence, Continuous Deployment is really crucial for quickly delivering the features to the users and it ensures that the significant issues are quickly resolved by the team so that they do not get overwhelmed with fixing bugs besides releasing new features.

The Advantages of An Efficient CI/CD Pipeline

We are brainstorming so much to know and understand a lot of details about the CI/CD pipeline. But, its users must get benefitted from a number of advantages offered by these processes. Otherwise, there will be no logic behind putting so many resources into them.

Well, those investments are always justified. The CI/CD pipeline is so advantageous in numerous ways that tech companies always consider having the smoothest CI/CD pipeline as one of their topmost priorities. Take a look at the benefits that CI/CD offers.

Reduces Cost and Complexity

Normally, the steps of CI & CD need to be repeated again and again. Manually executing those lengthy and complex repetitive steps does not only waste huge resources but also decreases the overall efficiency of the product team. Automating those steps through a smooth CI/CD pipeline will help you reach better efficiency along with significantly reduced consumption of resources.

Improves Reliability

Any complex web product is the result of work done by different people. So, it’s quite normal that anyone from the team can hamper the whole script while trying to fix a small bug. That’s why in manual CI & CD, the development team struggles a lot to maintain the isolated branches and commit them properly. And, during all these hassles, they often end up exceeding the time and resources planned for the project. But, an automated CI/CD pipeline helps you get rid of all these issues and keeps your business running efficiently.

Makes Your Team More Preferred By Developers

Imagine how you will try to figure out the standard of a tech business from the outside. A company that has a smooth, well-organized automated CI/CD pipeline supporting the continuous flow in the business, will certainly have a more organized condition than someone doing it manually. Hence, such a company has much better chances to attract expert developers to join an efficient community. Inherit an amazing CI/CD pipeline with PreFlight and enjoy the best recruitment experiences.

Using a convenient CI/CD pipeline has some more advantages that collaboratively push your business to the heights of success. Let’s check them out too.

  • The development team gets the opportunity to lessen their focus and engagement in fixing the bugs. That means they can concentrate more on writing codes for new features and maintaining the existing ones.
  • Detailed logs for every small step including all code changes, tests, and build deployments are always available for rechecking.
  • Besides the tech team, QA engineers, stakeholders, and everyone else from the product team have complete access to the latest or any version of the product.
  • Implementing updates to the products becomes a piece of cake.
  • The build can be rolled back to any previous version by just pressing a push-button.
  • The fast feedback loop significantly enhances the level of learning and development in the organization.

The Ultimate CI/CD Experience With PreFlight

The awesome CI/CD pipeline can improve your business only if you make complete use of efficient automation tools that easily integrate with popular developer tools. And, anyone in the market will not take even a second to say the name of PreFlight as the most convenient no-code test automation tool that provides the smoothest CI/CD experience to its users. So, let’s check out a detailed overview of how PreFlight excels among its competitors in terms of the best infrastructure for supporting CI/CD pipelines.

  • Tests can be run as part of your development pipeline as PreFlight integrates with all the popular DevOps pipelines. With us, you will always stay ready to deploy your product with maximum outreach.
  • PreFlight’s integration with Travis CI enables you to synchronize your projects with it and lets you achieve better build flow for branch builds and pull requests.
  • Our integration with Azure DevOps opens up the scope for you to minutely test your code before deploying it.
  • The complete efficiency and effectiveness of the CI/CD pipeline depend on conveniently automating the development process. The continuous integration between PreFlight and Circle CI’s cloud makes the automation easier. However, our users also have the freedom to use their own infrastructure for it.
  • The main purpose of CI/CD fails if the whole team can’t work together. Well, PreFlight takes care of that too. Our integration with GitLab allows the complete team to work together easily and experience next-level end-to-end automation.
  • A convenient platform to handle all the production operations is indeed a very crucial part of the infrastructure required in a product’s journey. And, PreFlight has integrated with Bitbucket for a long time to provide immense ease in Git code management and enables the team to plan on projects, collaborate for coding & testing, and deploy the products in the smoothest way.
  • PreFlight is extremely attentive to maintaining the highest standards of our core operations. While using PreFlight, you can stay relaxed after creating your tests through a simple straightforward interface. If there is a failure or any other issue in the tests, PreFlight will alert the responsible team through Slack. So, it is evident that our integration with Slack is a massive step towards providing a top-notch automated CI/CD experience.

You can clearly see how PreFlight justifies its tag of being the best test automation tool to get the most of an amazing CI/CD pipeline. And, you can always stay assured that awesome updates are always getting planned and developed by Team PreFlight. To know more about our products, do check out our website and feel free to contact us for any queries. Also, if you are keen to go through more such amazing pieces on various interesting topics, please visit our blog page.