How can I Reduce Feedback Latency using Continuous Integration Testing?

continuous integration testing, agile testing, software testing, continuous integration, continuous testing, continuous integration tools, agile software development, automation testing, version control system, integration testing, integration tests, agile development, unit testing, CI environment, gallop solutions, software testing services, quality assurance testing, gallop review, software testing services

Before we get into the main topic, let us first understand the basics.

What is Latency?

Latency, in common terms, is the delay/time lapse between input and output (stimulation and response), or, cause and effect. Considering the fact that any delays in the area of communication adds on to the cost of developing a product – both in terms of time and efforts, it is very important to keep it under control.

What is Continuous Integration?

Continuous Integration (CI) is a paradigm shift in the world of software development that lays huge emphasis on communicating the changes that have been made by the developers. CI requires developers to integrate code into a shared repository several times a day while an automated build verifies each check-in for any problem.

Benefits of CI

Agile teams deliver quality software fast, without death marches or heroics. CI makes this possible.

A properly implemented CI environment usually provides the following benefits to an organization:

  • Helps in the rapid integration of complex systems that helps improve the process efficiency across the board, accelerates growth, promotes user-driven innovation, and saves significant IT efforts.
  • Helps reduce instances of ‘Big Bang Integration’ wherein all units are linked at once, resulting in a complete system. Testing an instance of Big Bang Integration is very complicated because the errors found cannot be isolated as the interfaces across individual units are not verified properly. As the defects are identified at very late stage, the probability of missing out on some critical defects is very high.
  • Helps maintain a state of Constant Readiness that leads to a better CM Control.
  • Helps promote and manage early automation, and makes it more efficient and repeatable.
  • Helps provide a robust, stable environment that supports continuous execution of tests.
  • Helps reduce the number of Deadlocked Test queues, reduces the amount of work categorized as ‘work-in-progress’, and also reduces wastage of resources.

continuous integration testing, agile testing, software testing, continuous integration, continuous testing, continuous integration tools, agile software development, automation testing, version control system, integration testing, integration tests, agile development, unit testing, CI environment, gallop solutions, software testing services, quality assurance testing, gallop review, software testing services

How Does CI Help Reduce Feedback Latency?

In most organizations, multiple developers use a Version Control System to “commit” or “promote” their changes frequently.

If you are a developer, you must have at least once faced the situation wherein you downloaded the latest source code only to realize that cannot compile or had a major issue. Frustrating, is it not?

In a CI environment, a Build Integration Server watches the Version Control Server, and using build scripts, continuously ‘runs’ these committed files. Once these committed files are executed, the Build Integration Server provides a quick feedback in the form of a Build Status report. This report explains whether or not the new lines of code written work properly. In short, a project is built as soon as a change is committed. This not only takes care of the irritating scenario discussed above, but also reduces the latency that will otherwise creep up.

This dynamic environment thus not only saves efforts worth hours of work, but also lets the entire development team quickly get an overall view of the final code. Developers, apart from keeping track of the impact of their code change, can also have a clear view of the changes being incorporated by their peers.

CI, apart from making sure that the code compilation is successful, also checks whether or not the code is performing the tasks as required. Add the functionality of Test Automation. CI, when used with a properly implemented test automation environment ensures and validates the quality of the build generated.

CI servers help reduce any delays by building the code frequently and providing prompt feedback to the developers about the code changes submitted. These continuous integration servers help populate the changes to the build server, initiate the build process, and generate a report explaining the outcome of the tests performed.

CI servers, with all their benefits, are rapidly making waves and are being adopted as a key technology process as part of the Shift Left movement. Organizations can use CI to reduce rework, improve quality, and thereby improve their ROI.

Organizations today, more than ever before, realize the criticality of communicating the results of the builds to the entire development team. CI systems can use flexible means as e-mails or intranet to display build results. A display of the build report helps developers promptly respond to the build results and reduce the latency issues that are usually faced with nightly or weekly integration builds.

 

continuous integration testing,agile testing, software testing, continuous integration, continuous testing, continuous integration tools, agile software development, automation testing, version control system, integration testing, integration tests, agile development, unit testing, CI environment, gallop solutions

The opinions expressed in this blog are author's and don't necessarily represent Gallop's positions, strategies or opinions.

Challenges of Implementing Continuous Integration (CI) at Scale

Challenges of Implementing Continuous Integration (CI) at Scale

Precise adoption of automation techniques helps reduce manual processes, enforce consistency, pave way for early identification of issues within the SDLC and further helps to achieve continuous application delivery. In order to establish a Continuous Delivery environment, the most important requirement is the implementation of an automated Continuous Integration (CI) System. The CI process involves all stages – right from code commits to a version control system (done on the CI server) that serves as a kick off for a build to compile, run tests, and finally package the code.

CI is an integral part of an agile software development setup. For every sprint, the developer needs to deliver incremental features while focusing on the addition of new features and handling code errors that creep in and render the software unusable. To stop such errors from being integrated into the software configuration management (SCM), a CI server acts as a gatekeeper that helps keep a tab on code quality. A CI server performs an automated build that includes testing, reporting, and other actions each time the code base changes. The above activities are performed using different CI servers like Jenkins, Mojo, Hudson, QuickBuild, CruiseControl, Buildbot, etc. Some tools like Puppet and Chef can also help with scripting the provisioning of new environments and in creating additional CI server instances.

Some significant challenges while implementing an effective CI:

Absence of a Central Build Server: There is a necessity for some kind of source code management and some of the commonly used open source tools are Subversion, Git, etc. If you are not currently using version control in your development environment, then you should pay particular attention to repository layout and the subversion workflow along with proper tagging and branching.

Lack of Maintenance of Proper Version Control: At many times lack of maintenance of Version Control leads to variations and issues with software development. Primarily, a CI server checks for code changes in version control, and then downloads that code to the CI server to start off a build. The most common model of the CI server setup is the version control system that notes code changes on a
pre-configured interval. It is very important to maintain version in the development environment.

Lack of Proper Maintenance of Test Servers: If you are performing integration tests, you may also have a set of test servers in which you deploy built artifacts like WARs, JARs, and SARs, and execute your integration tests. Thus test servers play an important role in implementing CI.

Broken Builds: The goal is that the application must be ready to be built, packaged, and deployed on every committed change. It means that broken or untested code should never be committed. Moreover, a code that is production ready, should be managed by strict version control policies and the development team must practice agile development and unit testing, further leading to a better and CI environment.

Strict Organizational Policies: Certain organizations still follow rigid rules with certain internal policies wherein manual approvals and documentation is required before software is deployed into production. This might act in the way of successful CI implementation.

Other factors like the type of CI server plugins installed, the storage of credentials such that CI server can access the source version control can also impact the CI integrations. In order to attain CI, a perfect version control methodology needs to be followed along with taking up a build automation and dependency management strategy. Last but not the least in order to achieve the goal of continuous delivery, it is very important to draw a continuous integration methodology.

Top Continuous Integration Tools to Build Scalable CI

Jenkins: It is developed in Java and can be installed using the simple java command:
–jar Jenkins.war. It is mainly used for building and testing software projects continuously and monitoring externally run jobs. Jenkins supports a set of SCM tools like Git, Mercurial, Subversion, etc. You can also build through Apache Ant and Apache Maven based projects.

Buildbot: It is built based on twisted framework and a Python configuration script that needs to be provided to the master for Buildbot configuration. It is highly useful for mixed language applications or complex release tasks and allows installation to grow with your requirements.

Travis CI: This is one of the simplest CI server to get started, and is available as open source and free to host on your server. It is easy to link your Github account after providing relevant permissions.

Go: It helps distribute builds across different systems and monitor them all at one place. It is easy to perform regular tasks as they are added as pipelines.

Strider: It is written in Java and JavaScript and uses MongoDB as backing store. Strider is extremely customizable through plugins.

In conclusion, a CI approach is designed to effectively create an automation environment, ensuring that every change to the application results in a reliable version, and that any version can be built automatically with proper version control.

Get in touch with Gallop’s Agile Test Specialists today.

continuous integration testing,agile testing, software testing, continuous integration, continuous testing, continuous integration tools, agile software development, automation testing, version control system, integration testing, integration tests, agile development, unit testing, CI environment, gallop solutions

The opinions expressed in this blog are author's and don't necessarily represent Gallop's positions, strategies or opinions.