5 Reasons Why Continuous Integration is Important
Continuous Integration, or CI, is a process. It’s a series of steps designed to produce great products and to help teams work more efficiently. CI also takes time to refine and get right. It requires a certain level of rigor, quality, and process maturity. But, once effectively put into place, CI can be an immense help to your entire organization. Let’s dive into five reasons why CI is so important as a process.
1. A commitment to CI encourages good practices
Like any process, CI is, well, a process. Basically, this means that it is something that you and your team will work on together. And that’s a good thing! Because with a good process comes good practices. The more you can solidify good practices, the better your team will work.
While every project is different, there are some best practices to work towards. These include committing work frequently, communicating with teammates, and holding high-quality standards of the work that is produced. With CI you are continuously integrating code and also continually ensuring that the quality is high through code reviews, automated testing, and manual testing. Doing all of this at the moment allows for problems to be fixed immediately when developers still have the context of their work. The fix is easier to accomplish and it’s fixed before it impacts any users.
2. It helps developers stay consistent
While spontaneity might be the spice of life, consistency is key when it comes to a development project. Being able to get into a groove and knowing what work you have to do and when is a huge plus for engineers—especially as the projects grow in size.
A solid CI process allows developers to deliver smaller portions of code at a time. This allows for non-duplicative work and for developers to ensure that the code they do commit is as bug-free as possible and in tip-top shape. It also reduces the number of manual and repetitive tasks that developers are faced with, allowing them to focus on leveling-up in their pure development skills. All this equates to a consistent workflow and a better-built product.
3. It shifts the focus closer to the work, and work closer to the bugs, and communication more centered around the product and results
Context switching carries a hefty burden. If a developer works on fixing a bug with a feature that they implemented a long time ago, they will have to remember and uncover how and why they chose the solution that they did. It takes time to get back into the right mindset to fix the bug.
In a well-built CI process, your team identifies those bugs earlier and your production environment is much more stable. Bugs are fixed as they are created rather than fixed at some point in the future. This leads to less context switching and better solutions to problems.
4. It increases transparency between team members
It’s not a secret that communication is vital between developers and teams when working on a project. With continuous integration, work has to be done out in the open among the team. Code is committed often, it’s reviewed, and it’s tested. It’s also important that the team has the mentality of blameless feedback (which is one of our CI best practices). In keeping feedback neutral, you’ll find more positive accountability and a better functioning team.
In fact, consistent and blameless feedback helps to mitigate the damage of future build failures or merging issues. The team should think about feedback as a way to learn and improve rather than something that is negative. If everyone is facing the same way and moving at the same pace, good things happen.
5. Coupled with continuous delivery, it can decrease time to release and increase the amount of feedback you get from the market
Somewhere, in some promised land, we come up with amazing ideas and develop fantastic builds, all with no timelines or release dates. Just coding to our heart’s content. Until we make it there, however, we have to be aware of our deadlines.
The good news is that in a CI/CD pipeline, the build is developed, tested, pushed, and released in a much faster time frame than if done manually or without a set process. With the right level of quality and process, your product can be updated as often as you like (even many times a day) which means that your changes are making it to users faster. You can delight your users with updates and learn more from your users to find the right product fit.
So what’s next for my project?
At the Ranch, we use CI and CD whenever humanly possible. We find it helps to keep our clients happy and our developers sane. We also know that it helps us to create some amazing digital products that solve problems and keep end-users happy and engaged. Are you curious to learn more about how we go about building amazing experiences? Set up a call and let’s chat!