In the traditional development life cycle, each developer gets a copy of the code from the central repository, and the starting point is none other than the latest stable version of the application.
All the developers begin at the same starting point and work on adding new features or fixing bugs. This can lead to significant code conflicts between the developers when multiple developers push and pull the code from the central repository, which can easily translate into bugs.
The answer to this problem is continuous integration. With continuous integration and a continuous delivery pipeline, you can automatically build, test, and deploy code onto various servers whenever a new update is merged into the codebase. Continuous integration is a practice that helps developers deliver better software more reliably and predictably. In this article, I will cover the crucial benefits of continuous integration.
Smaller Code Changes
The most significant advantage of continuous integration is that you can integrate small code changes in a constant flow. Minor code changes are easier and simpler to handle when compared to the massive chunk of code changes. Minor code changes have fewer issues that are easily repairable in case bugs are introduced. You can also test these small code changes faster and push them to the central code repository. Therefore, bigger development teams get a significant advantage by doing more minor code changes in continuous integration.
Reduce Integration Risk
Continuous integration offers reduced integration issues. Often projects require multiple developers working on separate tasks or parts of the code. So, suppose a team is building an application, and that a team has several developers, so each and every developer would be responsible for some feature on the application. If the development team has more people, the integration risk can be higher because there would be a lot of code to deal with, and each developer will have their own copy of the source code with a newly implemented change. So now, depending upon how bad the problem is or how large the team is, debugging and solving those issues can be painful and can potentially mean a lot of changes to the code. So, when you integrate all the changes made by all the developers into a single code, then it could need a lot of debugging and could also be time-consuming work. Now integrating daily or even more frequently can help developers to reduce these kinds of problems to a minimum level so that they do not have to debug to a large extent.
Higher Code Quality
As a developer, it can be a scary situation where you get the source code from the repository, and it is not compiling. Continuous integration makes sure that that your code is compiling and tested through unit tests. Also, manual testing of code is not good enough, so continuous integration helps in automating the code testing which leads to higher quality code. With consistency in the integration process in place, teams are more likely to commit code changes more frequently for better software quality. Continuous integrations remove all the manual work and give you the opportunity to focus more on the functionality of the code. So obviously, when you focus more on the functionality of the code, it results in higher quality products.
Reduced Friction Between Team Members, Ease for QA Team, Less Deployment Time
Continuous integration offers reduced friction between the team members. So, as it is evident that the continuous integration system is impartial. If there is any mistake, then that mistake has to be solved, if there is any bug, then it has to be debugged and fixed. This offers reduced friction between the team members because they know that if there is some problem, they have to solve it without fighting with each other. Also, having different versions and builds of the code helps to isolate and trace bugs efficiently, which makes the work easy for the Quality Assurance team. So, suppose they have to identify any particular bug, they know how to trace that specific bug and how to solve that bug. This makes the life for testing people really easy, and last but not the least, we have continuous integration offering less time for deployment as we all know that deploying projects can be very tedious and time-consuming. So, automating these projects can be really helpful for the complete team.
By using an automated CICD pipeline, you will be able to reduce the number of errors by a high margin which can occur in repetitive CICD steps if they are executed manually. This will also help in freeing up developer’s time so that they can focus on product development. Increasing automation by using continuous integration helps in reducing cost and therefore increasing the organization’s ROI.
Easy to Maintain and Update
Maintaining and updating software is an integral part of the software development life cycle. By implementing continuous integration in the software development life cycle, you will be able to perform maintenance at regular internals pushing smaller code changes reducing the possible downtime on the system, and improve the user experience. You can easily schedule the maintenance in your CI/CD pipeline. Also, with continuous integration, you can maintain and update the code piece by piece in a microservices architecture. Thus, only one part of the product will have downtime and will be updated.
These were some of the most crucial benefits of applying continuous integration while building a product or application. With continuous integration, you can deliver your product faster, with minimum issues, and not affecting the user experience. The more automation you do, the faster will be the quality of releases. Continuous integration gives a real promise of agility while developing a high-quality product for the customers. So, if you are working on software development in your organization, you must apply continuous integration to get the benefits. CI will help the organization in reducing and identifying software development issues and increasing the ROI. Having a proper CI/CD strategy can provide an edge to any organization.