Advantages of Continuous Integration in an IT project
A review of some of the important reasons Continuous Integration is such a powerful tool in IT development.
Continuous Integration (CI) is a term that has generated a lot of hype in the development world for a while now, and that is for good reason. The process has proven to be one of the most effective approaches to IT development, systematizing development and making it more robust and rapid.
In basic terms, CI is the process of getting each member of a development team to integrate their work in the larger project they are developing on a frequent, regular basis. It also involves testing, to ensure that the integrations are viable, resilient and operational. The best CI processes will automate testing and make it a key element of the development project and workflow.
This article is going to outline some of the key advantages of choosing to use CI in an IT development project, and why it is a cornerstone of the work Bocasay’s development teams undertake for our clients.
The first benefit of using CI in development may seem to be the most simple, but it is also one too-often disregarded, avoided and not adequately nurtured in many IT development teams.
Developers tend to enjoy situations where they are allowed the space to focus on their own tasks, and that requires levels of concentration that often mean communication with other team members suffers.
By systematizing regular, continuous integrations of development work, it is possible to create an automated framework for communication between team members, who need to communicate what they have been working on to the rest of the team.
This helps to establish a transparent environment, where team members can view and evaluate each other’s work, and also makes reaching out to other team members for help easier and more natural.
The next major advantage of CI is the process’ ability to ensure that development work carried out by different team members on a shared project is cohesive and consistent to the overall goals and intended outcomes of the project.
CI allows any inconsistencies between work to be identified quickly and corrected, and it also leads to a reduction in inconsistencies as a project progresses.
As developers improve their systems of collaboration, they begin to rely on each other’s work for reaching their own goals more, which creates more accountability and greater team cohesion.
This point is closely related to Consistency, but it differs in one key area: CI reduces the risk of bugs and ensures production parity of developments through the systematization – preferably automation – of testing.
By running automated tests and Quality Assurance (QA) reviews, the risk of bugs making it through and into the finalized product are reduced considerably.
While it’s obvious that automating part of your workflow will reduce the amount of time a project will require to be completed, CI also brings the added benefit of reducing the learning curve for developers, who can be leap-frogged into a project without having to fully get to grips with all of its previously-constructed technical architecture.
Added to that, continuously testing for bugs and glitches reduces the risk of them appearing later on, when they may be more time-consuming and difficult to address.
Ultimately, a well-planned and implemented CI process provides an advantage that is largely priceless: the confidence – for both the developers and the client – that a delivered project has been tested robustly and continuously, and has benefited from a system that has been designed to maximize efficiency and quality, and reduce risks.