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Continuous integration

Continuous integration, or CI, is a development best practice where developers frequently integrate code they’re writing into a shared repository. This allow their code to be continuously verified and tested as it is integrated with the main codebase. As organizations seek to produce better software faster, continuous integration can help accelerate development timelines while reducing the cost of finding and fixing defects within an application.

What is continuous integration?

Continuous integration is a best practice in Agile and DevOps development methodologies. The objective of continuous integration is to prevent integration nightmares late in a project, which can occur when multiple developers work on code independently and wait to merge their work with other developers until they’ve completed work on their own components.

Continuous integration requires developers to integrate their work with the main version of the codebase, known as the trunk, on a regular basis, often multiple times per day. Automated builds and automated tests validate the changes to code, identifying bugs or regression issues. By integrating code regularly, CI enables development teams to fix bugs and integration issues earlier in the process, when remediation is easier and less costly.

Benefits of CI

Continuous integration practices provide development teams with several critical advantages.

  • Fewer merge conflicts. As developers working on different aspects of an application merge their code together, there are inevitably conflicts to be worked out. Continuous integration allows these conflicts to be resolved on a daily basis, minimizing the time, complexity, and cost of this task.
  • Faster feedback. Continuous integration provides developers with quick feedback on the code they’re writing, making it easier to find and fix errors.
  • Better collaboration. Because it enables developers to constantly work with the latest codebase, continuous integration significantly minimizes the risk of issues in complicated software applications. Additionally, changes to an application’s backend are immediately available for front-end developers, mitigating a perennial challenge in constructing large applications.
  • Support for continuous deployment. Continuous integration makes it possible for development teams to achieve continuous deployment, where an application can be made available to the customer at any time.
  • Greater productivity. Continuous integration helps developers be more productive by freeing them from manual tasks and encouraging practices that help minimize the number of bugs and errors in their coding.
  • Easier scaling. CI allows organizations to more easily scale the size of their development team, codebase, and infrastructure.
  • Accelerated timelines. CI enables development teams to deliver updates to customers with greater speed and frequency.
Benefits of Continuous Integration: fewer merge conflicts, faster feedback, better collaboration...

The role of testing in continuous integration

Automated testing is a core feature of continuous integration. The ability to regularly test code for small errors is an integral part of the CI process.

There are several key types of tests that are common to continuous integration.

  • Unit tests validate the behavior of individual functions or bits of code.
  • Integration tests ensure that multiple components work correctly together and that components integrate as required with other services.
  • Acceptance tests ensure that software meets the requirements of specific business cases.
  • Smoke tests are designed to test the minimal functionality of the system and ensure that any fundamental issues are identified.
  • Regression tests determine whether any new code changes result in loss of functionality in the software.
  • UI tests make sure that an application works correctly from a user’s perspective.

Managing testing in the CI process requires superior test management and test automation tools.

Solutions for continuous integration graphic

Tricentis solutions for continuous integration

Tricentis is a software testing platform that offers a totally automated and fully codeless approach that’s intelligently driven by AI. The Tricentis continuous testing platform addresses both Agile development and complex enterprise apps, speeding software delivery, reducing costs, improving quality, and accelerating cloud migration.

Tricentis Tosca is a market-leading intelligent test automation solution that optimizes and accelerates end-to-end testing of your entire digital landscape. By taking the bottlenecks out of testing and the the risk out of software releases, Tosca enables enterprises to accelerate innovation and deliver better business results with more confidence. Powered by Vision AI (a next generation AI-driven test automation technology) Tricentis Tosca provides continuous testing to support continuous integration. With Tosca, you can:

  • Test virtually any enterprise, custom, homegrown, and mobile application across your entire IT landscape, with support for 160+ technologies
  • Empower your business, QA and IT teams to utilize a no-code testing solution so they can create and maintain reusable test assets at speed and scale – regardless of their skill level
  • Achieve extreme shift left testing by using Vision AI to build test automation based on mockups and run those same tests as the application evolves
  • Simulate environments that are difficult or costly to deploy through service virtualization, and provision on-demand, high-quality test data so you can run your end-to-end tests much earlier in the testing lifecycle
  • Shift from manual testing to test automation and boost automation rates to 90%+
  • Track controls on any technology in real time, enabling automation at the speed of sight
  • Stay current with application changes, regardless of the underlying platform, to avoid massive rework as the application evolves
  • Manage every type and level of testing throughout the software testing lifecycle
  • Leverage Tosca Continuous Integration together with Distributed Execution to run Tosca tests faster and at scale across your build pipeline

Along with Tosca, Tricentis offers a suite of testing solutions from unified test management, end-to-end data integrity testing, app-native testing, performance and load testing, including smart impact analysis. It even supports every flavor and type of testing from black box testing, white box testing, exploratory testing, regression testing and chaos engineering.

FAQs

What is continuous integration?

In software development, continuous integration is a practice where developers frequently merge the changes they’ve made to code into a central code repository. Automated build and test tools validate the changes each time new code is added to the repository. By integrating code changes daily or several times a day, continuous integration allows errors to be quickly detected and fixed, accelerating the development process.

What is continuous integration vs. continuous delivery?

Continuous integration is the practice of frequently integrating changes to code made by different developers in order to fix issues and solve problems earlier in the development process. Continuous delivery is the practice of ensuring that applications are always ready to be deployed.

How is testing related to continuous integration?

Automated testing is an integral part of the continuous integration process. The goal of continuous integration is to have developers commit code frequently, automatically testing it to ensure that code changes are working as expected and to find and address defects earlier in the process when they’re easier and less costly to fix.

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