Technology is growing at a rapid pace and organizations have no choice but to keep up and be sounding wise technologically. Talking about ‘technology’ basically means creating solutions that are ‘faster, ‘convenient’ and ‘qualitative’. To keep up with the highly demanding technological dynamics, not only human resources need to be equipped with the contemporaneous developments of this industry but there is also a dire need for highly standardized processes in order to deliver top-class results. That’s when the need for DevOps emerges. Right from the planning through delivery, the idea of introducing DevOps is to maintain the quality streak by a systematic collaboration of development and automation across the continuous delivery and continuous integration. To make it simpler, there must be a convenient way to tackle the complicated scenarios without delays and for on-time delivery. Hence, the introduction of Continuous integration tools makes it easier for the developers to streamline the development processes.

Continuous Integration methodology enables developers to provide immediate reporting whenever any defect is identified in the code so that immediate corrective action can be taken. It is an important part of DevOps that is used to integrate various DevOps stages. The testing process is also automated and the same is instantly reported to the user. There are innumerable Continuous Integration tools available in the market providing access to different unique features. These have open source as well as paid versions, depending upon the need of the user, the most preferred could be selected. Although all the continuous Integration tools are designed to perform the same basic functions, choosing the best suitable CI tool becomes important in the long run.

What is continuous integration?

Continuous Integration (CI) is a software development practice adopted by developers to merge any changes in their code and unit tests to the central repository. This enables them to execute automated builds and automated tests. CI processes might be incapable of getting rid of bugs but can certainly help identifying and removing them on time. The CI system prevents the build from progressing to the next stage until the software developers repair the malfunctioned build as soon as it is reported. The main aim of the CI process is to detect bugs early on and frequently, so that timely remedial actions can maintain improved continuous delivery of the software.

Continuous Integration is one of the best software development practices that enable the software engineering team to perform frequent code integrations after every code change. CI workflow can be fully automated or partially automated with manual intervention.Also, regularly testing these code changes allows for detecting issues and their causes more easily. Focusing on the following key prerequisites makes the continuous integration process (CI) successful:

-Following the Automated build process,

-Following the automated testing process,

-Having a Central Source Code Repository,

-Enabling process visibility,

-Allowing real-time code access control to every team member.

By simply automating the Continuous integration (CI) process, software engineering teams can minimize the risk of human error and remove the burden of repetitive engineering andmanualtasks. Instead of relying on human resources to determine when and how to run tests, a CI tool can monitor and figure out the best ways to perform automated tests after each new code commit.

Difference Between Continuous Integration, Continuous Deployment, and Continuous Delivery

Continuous Delivery (CD) is an extensionof continuous integration (CI/CD). It involves building, testing, and pushing changes to every software code. Once each code change has been integrated and tested using automated testing, the software is ready for delivery/release. In other words, the master branch is continuously and automatically deployed to the production environment, followed by automated testing, completing the software release process. This stage of the software release process makesthe application softwaredeploymentready.

Continuous Integration (CI), Continuous Deployment (CD), and Continuous Delivery are the three stages of the automated release – CI pipeline. Their goals are similar, but the magnitude is different. The goal is to make software development and release more efficient and promising. The scope of automation applied to each is the common denominator among all three.

>Continuous Integration Build, Test code, Merge changes (code and unit tests)

>Continuous Delivery Automated release to the central repository

>Continuous Deployment Automated Deployment to the production environment

Source: https://aws.amazon.com/devops/continuous-integration/

Continuous Integration:It is the first step in the CI and CD process (consisting of build automation and code testing ). This software development practice enables software engineering teams to push incremental code changes into the production environment more quickly and frequently. An automated build validates the small and frequent code changes made in the version control repository by software developers. As a result, the team can quickly identify and resolve issues.

Continuous Delivery:

It is a continuation of the CI process. This stage entails releasing the final changes (code and unit tests) from the repository (build stage) to the production environment automatically. Integration tests are run after each commit is built and deployed to the development environment to ensure that the newly added changes work well together. The automated testing and automationrelease process make it possible to deploy the app with a single click, any number of times. It is recommended to deploy to production as soon as possible because small release batches are easier to address when problems arise.

Continuous Deployment:

This DevOps practice is the most important step in the CI and CD process because it uses automation testing to deploy the improved code versions into production. Continuous integration is an essential component of continuous delivery and deployment. In contrast to continuous delivery, where deployment to production is done manually, production releases occur automatically in continuous deployment.

What are some of the best continuous integration tools?

Enterprises are already adopting agile and DevOps practices to ensure faster delivery and better software quality. As a result, the dependence on maintaining a strong CI and CD process is unavoidable. Teams achieve this by employing the best continuous integration software available (CI tools). Out of the numerous best CI tools available on the market, choose the CI tool with the best capabilities suited to your software projects. The chosen CI tool should make it simple and efficient for developers to integrate code, develop software builds, and automate the software development process. The platform should have a great user interface, cloud compatibility, complete control, easy deployment to various cloud services, be able to handle complex workflows and easy integration with other tools, be safe and secure, and meet the projectrequirements. Jenkins, Buddy, TeamCity, Bamboo CI, GitLab CI, Circle CI, CodeShip, Cruise Control, and BuildBot, GoCD are the top ten picks for the best continuous integration tools that you can consider for your projects. Let’s take a closer look at them one by one.

1. Jenkins

Jenkins is a well-known and most common Continuous Integration tool that is easily available. Based on various comparisons, Jenkins tops the list. Jenkins is an open-source continuous Integration server-based application that allows developers to build, automate and test any software project at a faster pace. It was originally a part of the Hudson project started by Kohsuke Kawaguchi in the year 2004, however, it was later on released by the name Jenkins in the year 2011. The tool has evolved over the years and has become the most reliable software delivery automation tool. The source code is in JAVA with a few Groovy, Ruby, and Antlr files. It has almost 1400 plugins to support the automation of the development tasks. Jenkins supports the entire software development life cycle right from – building, testing, documenting, and deploying. Jenkins comes with a WAR file that allows easy installation of the tool which needs to be dropped into the JEE container and the setup can be run easily henceforth.

Key Features:

1. It is an open-source server for Continuous Integration tool

2. It is written in JAVA and comes with thousands of plugins that help in build, automation, and deployment of any software project

3. It can be installed easily on any operating system

4. User-friendly interface that is easy to configure and with easy upgrades.

2. Buddy

Buddy is a web-based, self-hosted Continuous Integration (CI) and Continuous Delivery (CD) tool also known as Buddy.Works. Buddy is a serious advancement as one of the trusted CI-CD tools. It has an extremely friendly user-interface and is also the simplest tool to use for web developers, designers, and quality assurance teams. Git developers can use this tool for building, testing, and deploying the websites and applications using Github, Bitbucket, GitLab codes.

Key Features:

1. Steps for launching containers, automating deployment, and setting up monitoring can be easily customized

2. Build, Ship, and Deploy as inbuilt stack feature

3. Can be deployed to any hosting and cloud service providers

4. Supports Grunt. Gulp, MongoDB, and MySQL

5. Real-time reports on progress, logs, and history can be monitored 6. Docker-based builds and tests.

3.TeamCity

Teamcity, first released in 2006 is a Continuous Integration tool developed by JetBrains. It runs in a Java environment and is used to build and deploy different projects. It supports integration with many cloud technologies like Microsoft Azure, VMWare, Amazon. The TeamCity CI tool provides GitLab and BitBucket pull requests support.

Key Features:

1. It is a free of cost Continuous Integration tool

2. Supports platforms like Java, .Net and Ruby

3. Allows easy integration with IDEs like Eclipse, IntelliJ IDEA, Visual studio

4. Allows code coverage, inspection and performs duplicates check and creates history

reports of any changes made

5. It supports running multiple builds and tests under different platforms and environments.

4. Bamboo CI

Bamboo is another Continuous Integration (CI) and Continuous Deployment (CD) software developed by Atlassian. It is written in Java and supports other languages and technologies like CodeDeply, Ducker, Maven, Git, SVN, Mercurial, Ant, AWS, Amazon, etc. It is a continuous integration build server that can build, test, and deploy multiple projects simultaneously and supports many remote build agents.The tool performs an automatic build, testing, and deployments.

Key Features:

1. Bamboo can build, test and deploy multiple projects simultaneously and in case of any build failure, it provides the analysis and the failure reports

2. Current status of the builds and server status can be monitored with the help of the REST API provided by Bamboo

3. Bamboo supports testing tools like PHPUnit, JUnit, Selenium

4.It is compatible with JIRA and BitBucket

5. Bamboo is related to other products like JIRA, Confluence, and Clover by Atlassian allowing the developers and the other team members to be on the same page 6. It can also import data from Jenkins.

5. GitLab CI

GitLab Continuous Integration tool is a complete code management platform with multiple mini tools each performing a different set of functions for the complete SDLC. It is owned by GitLab Inc and was created by engineers Dmitriy Zaporozhets and Valery Sizov. It provides important analysis on the code views, bug management, CI-CD in a single web-based repository which also makes it the most demanded CI-CD tool. GitLab CI is written in Ruby and Go and its core functionality is released under an open-source MIT license, keeping the rest of the functions under a proprietary license.

Key Features:

1. It is directly integrated with the GitLab Workflow

2. Allows all critical information on the code progress in a single dashboard

3. Free for the community edition, enterprise version is paid one

4. Language Programming CMD build scripts available allowing to program them in

any language 5. APIs are provided to allow better product integrations

Middle CTA – Use the comparison table to choose the right Continuous Integration Tools for your customized need

6. Circle CI

CircleCI is one of the best Continuous Integration and Delivery tools available in the market. CircleCI provides a great platform for build and test automation along with a comprehensive deployment process. CircleCI has a reliable build automation process. It can be integrated with GitHub, GitHub Enterprise and Bitbucket to create builds. It also supports on-cloud Continuous Integration. Because of its strong features and efficient performance in this space, it is highly recommended by experts.

Key Features:

1. It easily Integrates with Bitbucket, GitHub, and GitHub Enterprise

2. It allows branch focussed deployment

3. It performs easy bug-cleanup, runs tests quickly, and is highly customizable

4. Easily integrates with AWS, Google cloud and other services 5. Build tools like Maven, Gradle can be easily integrated

7. Codeship

Codeship Continuous Integration tool was acquired by Cloudbees. It is praised by its users for its combination of features for build and deployment. It is efficient, simple and deploys directly from the Github and Bitbucket. Its features of integration and delivery are combined in such a way that it makes more reliable deployment as soon as the code automatically tested.

Key Features:

1. It allows a very supportive environment when it comes to compatibility with different technologies, languages, deployment in different environments of choice.

2. It has very fast and strong developer support and is very easy to use.

3. It also supports third-party tool integration very well.

4.It requires a single sign-up for Github, Bitbucket, and Gitlab 5. Allows simple file management configuration, easy monitoring, and scale-up as per the need.

8. Cruise Control

CruiseControl is a Java-based Continuous Integration platform. It is popular for allowing various source controls, email notifications, and build technologies with the help of plugins. It is written in Java and has versions of .Net (CCNet) and Ruby (CruiseControl.rb.) as well.

Key Features:

1. Supplies builders for Ant, Nant, Maven, Phing, Rake, and Xcode.

2. It is an Open source Framework

3. Allows Custom build loops for build cycles

4.Its web interface provides visual status of the builds 5. Provides JSP Reporting for managing build results

9. BuildBot

Buildbot is a software development continuous integration platform that allows automatic compilation and testing in order to validate any changes occurred in the project. It is written in Python. Originally created by Brian Warner, it is now maintained by the developer Dustin Michelle. It is popular for performing complex automation testing of the Development Life Cycle processes and for application deployment. This is among one of those tools that allow the distribution and execution of programs parallelly on different platforms.

Key Features:

1. It is an Open source Continuous Integration Platform

2. Automates complex building, application deployment and manages complicated software releases

3. Allows time estimation of build completion as it provides real-time insights of the build progress.

4. Uses Python, C and host requirements of Python and Twisted 5. Supports distributed, parallel execution across multiple platforms and provides extensive status reporting

10. GoCD

GoCD Continuous Integration server is owned by Thoughtworks. It streamlines the build, automation, and deployments of complex build cycles. Its top USP is to enable plugins or design custom plugins for any requirements during the CI-CD process. It follows the business continuity concept under which it sets up multiple servers is possible in order to keep the data readily available at the time of emergency. It is compatible with Windows, OSX, AWS AMIs, Docker, Debian/APT, RPM/YUM, and Zip. It can run tests in multiple languages and provides robust reports on the insights. The value stream map (VSM) in GoCD visualizes the project’s position in the pipeline in real-time. Its Value Stream Mapping feature is used to track any changes made to code commits from the time the code is checked in to the time it is deployed.

Key Features:

1. It is an open-source Continuous Integration server.

2.It allows the deployment of any preferable versions of applications

3.It easily configures the dependencies based on the last report and allows on

demand deployments

4. There are numerous plugins available for this and can also be customized as per the

requirement.

5. It reuses the pipeline configuration keeping the configuration organized with the help of its template system

6. The entire workflow can be tackled and watched with good tracking and feedback

system allowing the developer to track changes from committing through deployment at a single place.

Other CI tools, such as Bitrise, provide mobile continuous integration and delivery platforms to the team in addition to those mentioned above. For security, each build in BitRise has its own virtual machine (where the build runs). Cake, a cross-platform build automation CI tool, also makes it simple to compile code, copy files and folders, run unit tests, and so on.

Conclusion

The above list of best Continuous Integration tools describes each of the ten tools in detail and covers the best of all along with their main features. This information is insightful for those who still haven’t thought of inculcating these automation tools to build and deploy various aspects of the Software development projects. Continuous Integration, delivery, and deployment are very critical and complex systems in the Software theory. They need to be handled with care in order to fetch great results. Choosing the right tool for your business would certainly help handle this responsibility well. It is not about choosing one best tool, but multiple tools can also be selected based on the requirements of the project. As the CI-CD continues to grow and evolve, it leaves the innovators with more chances to explore on creating the best versions of such tools.

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