The fast-paced growth of technology requires continuous or faster deployment. Continuous Integration structure (Figure 1) is a strategy of integrating changes in a developer’s code into the source branch as quickly as possible. Tests are automated against the standard code base to validate that the new code does not have errors.
This helps streamline the development task. Continuous integration tools provide a platform for developers to get immediate reports in case of vulnerabilities or flaws with a code. This report enables the developers to take corrective action on time. Here, the testing process is automated. Test results are instantly reported to the user.
Figure 1: Continuous Integration Structure
6 Best Continuous Integration Tools
Choosing the right continuous integration tools is essential. The right tool needs to ease the process of the development cycle. Here pricing, ease of integration, updates, and features, including security, need to be considered while making the best choice. Here are the best CI tools available in the market:
(Latest release – Jenkins 2.256 LTS (2020-09-08))
Jenkins is the most popular and widely used open-source continuous integration tool. Jenkins is a server-based tool that allows developers to build, test, and deploy their software fast reliably. It is built with Java and provides close to 1700 plugins to automate development processes.
Jenkins provides WAR files, native packages, Docker images, and installers for Windows and Linux distribution platforms.
Features of Jenkins
- Easy installation, configuration, self-contained, platform-agnostic Java-based program easily available for Mac OS, Linux, and Windows platform.
- Available plugins, large numbers of plugins available in the update center, integrating every tool of CI plugin.
- Easy Distribution can easily be disrupted across the workstations.
- Bigger community support for this open-source tool.
- The easy package is available to be deployed on the public cloud.
Latest release (TeamCity 2020.1 (2020-05-09)
TeamCity is a continuous integration and management server built by JetBrains. It supports .Net, Java, and Ruby platforms. Key integration allows with Docker, Jira, Maven, Visual Studio team services, NuGet, and VCS Hosting services. Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud integration plugins are also available.
Features of TeamCity
- Remote Run and Pre-Tested Commit: These features are provided via IDE plugins for IntelliJ IDEA-based products, Microsoft Visual Studio, and Eclipse.
- Problem and Test Management: Several persons can be assigned for investigation of issues in one build.
- Automatic Investigation Assignment: automatically assign investigations to team members based on several heuristics
- Notifications: Notification via email, instant messenger, and Slack platforms.
Latest release (Buddy v2.3.57 (2020-08-09))
Buddy is a Continuous integration and continuous delivery tool specially developed for web developers as it is web-based. This tool is well known for its user-friendly interface. It well matches Git developers’ interest, and they can use this tool to build, test, and deploy web-based applications as well as websites with the use of Bitbucket, GitHub, and GitLab codes.
Features of Buddy
- Docker-based builds and tests
- 10-minute setup of the complete environment
- Automatic deployments on a push to a branch
- Buddy-on-premises: on-premises features version, which only requires a server with docker installed.
4. Bamboo CI
Latest release (Bamboo 7.1 (2020-07-24))
Atlassian developed Continuous bamboo Integration in the year 2006. The bamboo server is an automation server used for continuous integration. Bamboo CI is well known for its good User Interface and automated merging.
Features of Bamboo CI
- Built-in Git branching workflows
- Test Automation
- Easy Enterprise-grade permission management
- Built-in deployment support
- Eases test automation
5. GitLab CI
Latest release (GitLab 13.4 (2020))
It helps to manage the complete software development cycle; it also consists of mini tools performing different sets of roles. This is an open-source tool owned by GitLab Inc. This tool allows applying all the continuous methods, continuous integration, delivery, and deployment without the use of any third-party applications or integration. To use the GitLab CI/CD, all you require is a codebase hosted in a Git repository.
Features of GitLab CI
- Schedule pipelines.
- Deploy your app to different environments.
- Check for app vulnerabilities with Security Test reports.
- Easily set up your app’s entire lifecycle with Auto DevOps.
Latest release: Buildbot 2.4.1 (2019- 09 – 11)
Build bot is an automation tool, and its configuration files are based on python scripting, which automates the compile or test. At the core of Buildbot, it is a job scheduling system. The jobs are queried and executed when the resource is available later, the results are shown instantly. The Buildbot is written in python on top of twisted libraries. Buildbot is widely used in web browser development and is used in Mozilla, Webkit, Chromium.
Features of Buildbot
- Flexible configuration by subclassing generic build process classes.
- Notification functions supported: Gerrit Status Push, Email Notification, Stash Status Push, PBListener, etc.
- Status delivery through a web page, email, IRC, other protocols.
- Version control systems supported: Gerrit, Monotone, Subversion, Darcs, etc.
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The best available Continuous Integration tools are listed above. This information is insightful for developers who plan to get a career in IT automation and manage automation tools to build and deploy various aspects of Software development projects. Continuous Integration, Continuous Delivery, and Continuous Deployment are very critical and complex servers.
Choosing the right CI tool helps your project progress well. Features provided in the tool and project functionalities need to match. It’s not about choosing the best tool but multiple tools. As the career in automation grows, skilled professionals in handling continuous integration tools are increasing.
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How is continuous integration different from continuous delivery?
In the DevOps environment, continuous integration and continuous delivery are two very critical aspects. However, these terms are often used interchangeably, which is wrong, considering that they are entirely different concepts. In a DevOps project, continuous integration comes first. It is the practice of merging code changes to the existing program as often as possible. The changes are then validated and passed through automation test cases before taking a fresh build. Continuous delivery is the practice of deploying the modified code to a specific environment. This phase comes into the picture right after the code changes are validated and integrated and is an extension of the continuous integration stage.
What are the advantages of Continuous Integration?
The practice of continuous integration allows us to continually integrate code changes to the main branch of the codebase that is contained in a particular shared and accessible repository. There are several advantages of continuous integration. But its main technical benefit is that we can integrate small pieces of code changes at a single time. This makes it much easier to understand and handle the changes than large chunks of code changes. As a result, it also becomes easier to spot and isolate bugs faster. Continuous integration also allows a shorter time-to-market (TTM) and optimizes maintenance expenses and time. The final product stands for reliability resulting in greater customer satisfaction.
What is meant by a CI/CD pipeline?
A CI/CD, i.e. continuous integration, the continuous delivery pipeline consists of a succession of steps that need to be performed to deliver a fresh or newer version of an application. This pipeline is essentially a practice that aims to improve the quality of software and expedite its delivery using a DevOps or site reliability engineering (SRE) method. It also introduces automation and monitoring to the project's entire lifecycle to improve the overall processes involved in application development, testing, and delivery. The real value of the CI/CD pipeline lies in automating the processes.