CI/CD, or an amalgamation of Continuous Integration and Continuous Development, is a set of practices and operating principles that enable software developers to use automation to implement changes in code in a frequent yet reliable manner. This allows for more frequent delivery of software, so that customers get faster, iterative releases.
Software development teams will enable automation and implement real-time monitoring throughout the software development life cycle to make this happen. Automation ranges from integrating code with the build process and automating tests, all the way to deployment and delivery. The umbrella term for all these interconnected practices is referred to as the “CI/CD pipeline”.
Here we take a look at the top CI/CD tools for 2022, how they contribute to this philosophy, and how you can choose a tool that fits your specific requirements.
What are CI/CD Tools?
CI/CD tools help automate important parts of the development process while also enabling the creation of documentation. A capable CI/CD tool helps teams create a viable CI/CD pipeline that integrates with their current workflow and makes the most of an expedited and enhanced automation process.
While looking at CI/CD tools, you need to keep certain considerations in mind. Think about whether you want a hosted cloud solution or something on-premise, look at the UI and check for ease of use and intuitiveness, and consider if you want a paid or an open-source solution.
Why is Test Automation Important for CI/CD?
Test automation is an essential part of CI/CD. It is virtually impossible to implement effective CI/CD without significantly implementing test automation in your workflow.
With test automation, you can minimize any need for manual testing in the context of CI/CD pipelines, where code changes are usually small. In scenarios where speed is of vital importance, test automation can help you get reliable results faster. Automated tests can also help eliminate anomalies or variations from the workflow and create a process that is consistent from start to finish.
Most importantly, test automation is crucial for CI/CD as it enables agility. Parallel testing can be implemented to further increase test speed and coverage. In an environment where it is crucial to keep up with frequently changing project requirements or new technologies, manual testing is especially difficult to align with business demands. Teams can sacrifice crucial time trying to plan out, assign, and verify manual results, resulting in inefficiencies. The more you can automate your tests, the more agile the process can be.
Therefore, it can be safely said that test automation is an absolutely must have for CI/CD. Automating tests will help you achieve much faster feedback times. You can also ensure that performance test environments closely resemble the production environment with the same allotment of resources and end up with performance metrics that are consistent and insightful. With efficient test automation, you can maintain a collection of several tested and certified versions of important code that can be deployed in successive iterations.
If you look beyond the immediate, a lot of other overarching benefits also begin to emerge. With test automation, you can speed up your release cycles, significantly reduce the risk in your development life cycle, lower costs by eliminating fixed costs associated with manual testing, and put out higher quality products that make your customers happy.
The Most Popular CI/CD Tools for 2022
Here are some of the most popular CI/CD tools for 2022
One of the most popular CI/CD tools, Jenkins is an open-source project that provides an automation server as a Java program that can be deployed on multiple environments and operating systems. It is divided into two parts. There is a controller server that takes care of all the actions for separate projects and their CI/CD pipelines. Also, there are agent nodes that, in turn, execute the steps outlined by the server.
Jenkins can be deployed as a physical installation, containerized, or hosted virtually. The complexity of the feature set makes it adaptable for any kind of development environment. You can also implement a version control system by coding your entire CI/CD pipeline in the Groovy language. The community-driven plugin repository gives you access to thousands of useful plugins.
With that said, Jenkins also has a very steep learning curve and there is no true SaaS version of it, which implies more management overhead for specific implementation.
Interesting features include ready support for a variety of popular programming languages and their Orbs feature, which allows you to reuse code snippets to automate repetitive tasks. You can use YAML to create lightweight pipelines via code. With their higher-end plans, you can have access to higher compute capacities, the ability to use runners or self-hosted execution gadgets, macOS builds, and GPU support.
TravisCI can be credited with introducing and popularizing the concept of CI/CD as a service. It is a SaaS solution that is freely available for use on open-source projects. Getting started is easy as TravisCI has Bitbucket and GitHub integrations. There is built-in support for Docker and parallel testing matrices. You can use several add-ons to extend features, like carrying out headless testing with the help of browsers.
While the UI is intuitive and easy to use, you also have the option to use YAML to integrate your pipeline as code. There is a limited free plan available to both private and open-source repositories that uses a credit system. Alternatively, you can take advantage of the variable pricing structure and customize a plan for your needs. For enterprise customers seeking more granular control over deployment and operation, there is a self-hosted Enterprise edition available.
Azure DevOps uses the SaaS template to provide an end-to-end toolchain for DevOps for developing and deploying complex software. There are many included services, including Pipelines, Boards, Repos, Artifacts, and Test Plans.
Azure DevOps can be applied to a variety of use cases as it is cloud-agnostic and platform-agnostic. It supports two different types of source control, has advanced dashboard features, and can be used to implement continuous and exploratory testing. Azure DevOps is a popular choice for enterprise organizations that already use Microsoft for their software development platform.
With GitLab, you can host your code repositories in the same place where you implement your CI/CD pipeline. Choose between the SaaS version or the self-managed option. The free plan offers plenty for small workloads and you can get a full set of features with the GitLab subscription plan.
At the core of GitLab is a Git repository manager that has integrated features like rich analytics and issue tracking. You can use commits to deploy code, run tests, or trigger builds. The platform has plenty of collaboration features and shines as a single, holistic platform for managing all the various aspects of software development.
Functionize – The Best Test Automation Tool for Your CI/CD Initiatives
When choosing a test automation tool for your CI/CD process, you need to ensure that you do not make compromises and skimp on test coverage or reliability. This is exactly the problem that hampers many test automation tools when it comes to CI/CD pipelines. Many organizations stick almost exclusively to unit tests in their CI workflow. The focus is then removed from important functional and end-to-end UI testing.
The inherent reason behind this prioritization lies in the nature of UI tests. While these can successfully replicate real-world user interaction scenarios in the software, UI tests are notoriously expensive to create and maintain. They are also prone to breaking and are brittle in nature. Development teams, in spite of the obvious utility and value of UI tests, often leave them out of the CI workflows as it takes a lot of time and effort to review and maintain these tests and work out fixes for problems. This has the potential to slow down the entire process.
This is where Functionize can be a great resource for teams looking to integrate more automated UI testing into their CI process. With Functionize, you can easily incorporate end-to-end and functional UI testing in your CI/CD pipeline. This is because Functionize makes use of AI and machine learning to create solid, resilient tests that self-heal and break less often. This removes most of the inherent challenges in using this type of testing in CI/CD workflows and adds incredible value to your test automation.
In addition, Functionize is extremely easy to use and integrates seamlessly with any kind of CI/CD workflow, whether you decide to use one of its many native integrations or the fully-featured CLI. With the CLI, you can build multi-stage pipelines from your favorite CI/CD tools with simple commands. For example, you can run Functionize orchestrations from your CI/CD tools, wait for the results to arrive, and then release new features. With Functionize, you have an efficient, powerful, and AI-driven test automation tool that easily fits into any DevOps scenarios. See for yourself how Functionize works with CI/CD today at functionize.com/free-trial.