Today, we can only imagine software being developed with Continuous Integration and Continuous Delivery/Deployment (CI/CD) in the software industry. With efficient adoptions such as DevTestOps, TestOps, and test scalability, the utilization of CI/CD tools in software development is at its epitome. But before delving into the tools used to implement these practices, let’s first explore what they are, how they gained popularity, and the benefits they offer when utilized.
It is a software development practice that emphasizes the regular merging of code changes from multiple contributors into a central repository. After each code integration, automated builds and tests are triggered to ensure that new changes do not introduce errors. This frequent integration allows teams to detect and address issues early, fostering code consistency and quality and ultimately speeding up the software release process.
In a CI workflow, developers often commit code changes daily, if not multiple times a day. As soon as changes are committed, the system automatically compiles the source code, runs unit and integration tests, and provides immediate feedback to developers about the state of their code.
This automation ensures rapid detection of integration errors and maintains a consistent and deployable codebase, reducing the overhead and challenges of manual integration.
It is an advanced software development practice where any code change that passes automated testing is automatically deployed to a production environment without manual intervention. This ensures that new features, bug fixes, and other changes are delivered to users as quickly as possible, facilitating a faster and more responsive development cycle. The main idea is to make deployments a routine activity that can occur reliably anytime, enabling constant improvements and updates.
The effectiveness of Continuous Deployment heavily relies on a robust automated testing framework, real-time monitoring, and quick rollback capabilities. Because each change is immediately deployed to production, the automated tests must be comprehensive to prevent the introduction of bugs or security vulnerabilities.
Additionally, monitoring tools continuously scrutinize the system to ensure it’s performing as expected, while a rollback strategy provides a safety net in case of unforeseen issues. These elements create a highly agile, responsive, and efficient development process.
It is a software development methodology that focuses on automating the entire software release process, from development to deployment, ensuring that the code is always in a state ready for production. It extends the principles of Continuous Integration by adding additional layers of automation for testing, environment setup, and code deployment. With Continuous Delivery, every code change goes through automated pipelines that compile, test, and stage the code, making it ready for release to production at any time.
What sets Continuous Delivery apart from Continuous Deployment is usually the presence of a manual “gate” before the code goes live in production. This manual approval process allows for human intervention for final checks, coordination with business schedules, or other validation steps. By doing so, Continuous Delivery gives organizations the flexibility to decide when to release new changes while ensuring that they can do so reliably and quickly whenever they choose.
How CI/CD Gained Popularity?
The popularity of Continuous Integration and Continuous Deployment/Delivery (CI/CD) has surged over the past two decades, primarily due to a combination of technological advancements and shifts in software development methodologies. Initially, software development often followed “waterfall” models, which were highly structured but inflexible. This changed with the rise of Agile and DevOps movements, which advocated for more iterative development, closer collaboration between development and operations, and a focus on delivering value to customers quickly and efficiently.
Technological enablers like cloud computing and containerization also played a pivotal role in popularizing CI/CD. Cloud services made it easier to automate the provisioning and scaling of resources. At the same time, container technologies like Docker allowed for consistency across different stages of development, making it more straightforward to move from development to production.
Furthermore, the proliferation of tools designed to facilitate CI/CD processes, such as Jenkins, GitLab CI/CD, and Travis CI, made adoption easier. The rise of open-source communities sharing best practices and tools contributed to the collective knowledge around CI/CD, making it more accessible.
In today’s fast-paced digital landscape, the ability to release quality software quickly has become a competitive advantage, further solidifying the importance and popularity of CI/CD.
Here, we have listed the top 7 CI/CD tools that might help you to manage your CI/CD pipeline efficiently.
It stands out as one of the leading CI/CD solutions today. This open-source, Java-based platform is compatible with various operating systems like macOS, Windows, and Linux. It offers real-time testing and reporting features and integrates with popular cloud services such as Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud, DigitalOcean, and AWS. The platform also provides essential pipeline modeling and implementation tools through its domain-specific language, making it user-friendly for developers.
Boasting a large and active user community, Jenkins also offers a rich ecosystem of over 1,500 plugins. Its open-source nature, robustness, and flexibility make it an attractive option for organizations of all sizes— from established enterprises to startups.
Jenkins Key features
- Easy installation and upgrade across Windows, Linux, and macOS platforms
- User-friendly interface for simple navigation and use
- Highly extensible with a thriving ecosystem of 1500+ community-contributed plugins
- Convenient environment configuration through the user interface
- Supports distributed builds via a master-slave architecture
- Allows build schedules to be generated based on expressions
- Enables shell and Windows command execution in pre-build steps
- Provides notifications on build status
- Free and open-source, making it suitable for both startups and large organizations
- 19.2K stars and 7.5K forks on GitHub underline its popularity
- Capable of parallel work execution to meet complex CD requirements
- Stand-alone Java application installer in .war format for quick setup
GitLab CI is a versatile CI/CD platform operating on Windows, macOS, and Linux, offering a unified dashboard with Continuous Integration, Continuous Delivery, and code reviews. Designed with user-friendliness, it includes time-saving caching options and seamlessly integrates with GitLab’s core features, such as issue tracking and analytics. The platform also allows for custom pipeline design through its Shell Executor and supports Kubernetes integration. GitLab CI accommodates scripts for builds, tests, and deployments in a .gitlab-ci.yml file executed by the GitLab runner tool.
Besides CI/CD capabilities, GitLab offers a robust Git versioning system and additional code security features like SAST/DAST scanning. This all-in-one platform caters to teams of all sizes and aims to streamline development.
GitLab CI Key features
- Offers a unified dashboard for managing code and project data through branching tools
- Utilizes a single distributed version control system for rapid project iteration and value delivery
- Serves as a single source of truth for scalable projects and code collaboration
- Fully automate source code build, integration, and verification, encouraging CI adoption
- Provides comprehensive security features, including container scanning, SAST, DAST, and dependency scanning for secure and license-compliant applications
- Automates and expedites the release and delivery of applications
- Offers developer APIs for third-party integration
- Cross-platform availability on Windows, Linux, and macOS
- Executes parallel builds to reduce build time and allows cache sharing between branches
- Supports custom pipeline definitions and easy migration from other CI/CD tools like Jenkins or CircleCI
- Enables build triggering through GitLab CI’s shell executor
- Simplifies the creation of automated testing pipelines, including compatibility with Selenium Grid
- Allows job status tracking through the dashboard or Slack integration
- Supports custom labeling for jobs and builds artifact storage in S3 or GitLab accounts
License: GitLab provides both commercial and free options for users. It supports various hosting solutions, including Software as a Service (SaaS) on GitLab’s platform and on-premises or public cloud instances.
It is a cloud-based Continuous Integration (CI) service that automatically builds and tests projects upon each new commit to a GitHub repository. Written in Ruby, the tool is versatile, supporting various programming languages like Node.js, Java, Python, PHP, C#, and more. Initially launched for open-source projects, it has since expanded its services to accommodate enterprise-level and private projects.
The platform offers seamless integration with various version control systems, including GitHub and Bitbucket, and it’s entirely free for public repositories. It also enables testing across Linux, macOS, and Windows operating systems. Travis CI provides different packages tailored for the open-source community and enterprises wishing to use the platform in a private cloud or self-hosted setup.
Travis CI Key features
- Quick setup and user-friendly configuration
- Live build monitoring for GitHub projects
- Comprehensive pull request support
- Deployment to multiple cloud services, including AWS, Google Cloud, Kubernetes, and Azure
- Automatic deployments upon successful builds
- Fresh VMs allocated for each build
- Broad OS support, including macOS, Linux, and Windows
- Supports a wide range of programming languages, including but not limited to Java, C#, Python, and Node.js
- Travis CI Enterprise offers enhanced security and seamless integration with GitHub and Bitbucket
- Utilizes proprietary YAML syntax for CI/CD pipelines, with easy integration into GitHub Enterprise tools
- Build matrix allows for parallel builds across different environments and languages
- Integration with cross-browser testing tools like LambdaTest
- Compatible with multiple cloud hosting providers
License: Travis CI is a cloud-based CI/CD platform that offers paid plans and open-source for your projects on travis-ci.com.
Buddy is a versatile CI/CD platform tailored for web developers, offering an accessible route to DevOps. Its user-friendly interface makes it easy for teams to build, test, and deploy applications, pulling code from GitHub, Bitbucket, or GitLab. The platform is designed for ease of use and integrates smoothly into existing workflows. It supports many programming languages and frameworks through its Docker containers, which are pre-installed with essential tools, enabling customized pipeline configurations enriched with DevOps, monitoring, and notifications. Available as a cloud-based or on-premise solution, Buddy boasts features like Docker layer caching, concurrent pipelines, parallel builds, and scalable computing resources. It seamlessly integrates with major cloud providers like AWS, Digital Ocean, and Azure. By simplifying CI/CD pipeline complexities, Buddy enables development teams to concentrate on feature development, thus boosting productivity and improving the developer experience.
Buddy Key features
- Easy customization of Docker-based test environments
- Intelligent change detection and state-of-the-art caching for optimized performance
- Reusable build and test environments with various configurations
- Configuration scope options including workspace, project, pipeline, and actions, with both plain and encrypted settings
- Attachable services like Elastic, MariaDB, Memcached, MongoDB, PostgreSQL, RabbitMQ, Redis, Selenium Chrome, and Firefox
- Workflow management through templates for cloning, exporting, and importing pipelines
- A wide range of actions for cloud providers, build environments, and notifications such as AWS, Digital Ocean, Google Cloud, .NET, Angular, Python, Ruby, Slack, and Email
- User-friendly GUI and YAML-based configurations for pipeline setup, including “Pipeline as Code” via YAML exports
- Automated testing and code coverage on Buddy’s cloud computing platform
- Email notifications for build and test failures and new branch creation
- Isolated containers for builds with cached dependencies
- Support for all widely used languages, frameworks, and task managers
- Dedicated actions for Docker/Kubernetes environments
License: It is a commercial tool, but there is an option for the free trial version.
CircleCI is a robust cloud-based CI/CD platform that integrates seamlessly with GitHub, GitLab, and Bitbucket repositories. It offers a cloud-managed service and an on-premise solution, catering to different project needs. Users can automate their entire development pipeline, from code creation to testing and deployment, through CircleCI’s web-based interface. The platform supports various programming languages and is compatible with Windows, Linux, and macOS environments.
Using proprietary YAML syntax, CircleCI enables easy setup of automated workflows, which streamline building, testing, and deploying code. Its standout features include real-time build monitoring, end-to-end testing capabilities, and strong security credentials, being FedRAMP and SOC II compliant. This focus on speed, security, and flexibility aims to enhance developer confidence, thereby reducing cycle times and increasing deployment frequency. Notifications can be generated at various stages to keep teams informed.
CircleCI Key features
- Integrates with Bitbucket, GitHub, and GitHub Enterprise
- Supports running builds on containers or virtual machines
- Enables continuous and branch-specific deployment
- Highly customizable with optimal caching and parallelism
- Supports automated merging and custom package upload commands
- Utilizes ‘Workflows’ for CI/CD pipelines
- Supports a wide range of programming languages out-of-the-box
- Allows build splitting across multiple containers for reduced build time
- Integrates with third-party tools through CircleCI Server, its on-premise offering
- Features reusable code snippets known as CircleCI Orbs to accelerate integration
- Customizable web interface for real-time build progress tracking
- Incorporates SSH for in-depth build problem investigation
- Allows data reuse through easy-to-configure caching
- Supports self-hosted runners for specific platforms
License: Linux plans initially offer the ability to execute a single job at no cost without parallel execution. Open-source projects receive an extra three free containers. During the registration process. The free trial includes 6,000 build minutes per month.
TeamCity, by JetBrains, is a versatile Java-based continuous integration server available on Windows and Linux. It supports .NET and open-stack projects and integrates with IDEs and systems like GitLab and Bitbucket. The 2019.1 release brought a refreshed UI, native GitLab integration, and token-based authentication. TeamCity offers parallel build execution, allowing simultaneous builds across different platforms. Users can craft efficient software delivery processes with its build chains. Additionally, TeamCity can build agents in Kubernetes and is compatible with major cloud platforms, including AWS. The platform is open-source friendly, and its robust toolkit includes features for code analysis, build problem tracking, and seamless integration with tools like Azure DevOps and Docker.
TeamCity Key features
- Enables settings and configuration reuse from parent projects to subprojects
- Offers history build features, including test history reports, pinning, tagging, and favoriting builds
- Provides extensive user management options, such as role assignment, user grouping, multiple authentication methods, and a comprehensive user activity log
- Pipelines defined using Kotlin-based DSL (Domain Specific Language)
- Integrates with Docker, Visual Studio Team Services, Maven, NuGet, and more
- Compatible with major cloud platforms like Google Cloud, AWS, and VMWare vSphere for on-premise solutions
- On-the-fly test progress and history reports
- Supports multiple build configurations and hosted agents
- Allows job configuration via the command line to control any software tool
- Hosts build results on the TeamCity server
License: TeamCity is a commercial tool with both free and proprietary licenses.
Bamboo by Atlassian is a robust, enterprise-grade CI/CD platform designed to streamline software development processes. It seamlessly integrates with Atlassian’s other products like Jira, Bitbucket, and Confluence, providing a one-stop solution for build management, functional testing, and deployment. Optimized for large corporations, Bamboo supports multiple programming languages and platforms, including Windows, Linux, and macOS.
The tool enhances build performance through parallelism and automates various steps in the software lifecycle, from code integration to production release. Its multi-project plan feature consolidates different build plans into one interface, enhancing visibility and control. Bamboo improves developer efficiency and reduces cycle times by enabling early issue detection.
Bamboo Key features
- Supports up to 100 remote build agents for parallel builds and testing
- Quickly runs batches of tests in parallel and provides feedback
- Creates and pushes images into registries
- Features per-environment permissions, enabling selective deployment while keeping production locked down
- Automatically detects and applies CI schemes to new branches in Git, Mercurial, and SVN repositories.
- Trigger builds based on repository changes and supports push notifications from Bitbucket.
- Offers seamless migration from open-source CI/CD platforms like Jenkins
- Available in both self-hosted and cloud-based variants
- Supports builds in multiple languages, including Java, Ruby, Python, and Go
- Allows for the customization of build environments and extends existing behavior through custom rules
- Provides comprehensive visibility into the code’s status throughout its lifecycle
- Builds can run on either cloud or on-premise agents
License: Bamboo pricing tiers are based on agents or “build slaves” rather than users. The more agents, the more processes it can run concurrently in the same or different builds. Provides a 30-day free trial.
In the current market, Continuous Testing is integrated into the CI/CD pipeline, and it automates testing at every development stage, providing instant feedback on code quality. This contrasts with traditional methods that test only at certain phases. Continuous Testing occurs as code is developed, merged, and deployed, enabling ongoing quality assurance. It covers a broad spectrum of automated tests- unit, integration, functional, and more, triggered by any code change. Seamlessly incorporating CI/CD tools ensures an uninterrupted pipeline of quality checks, helping to catch and mitigate issues as soon as they arise. This facilitates a more reliable and secure software development lifecycle.
To make continuous testing more effective, it’s always better to use one tool to support all the testing types mentioned above. This is where testRigor stands out. There are a few advantages to why testRigor is a preferred continuous testing tool:
- Generative AI – With the assistance of generative AI, testRigor can entirely craft the test case; the QA team only needs to provide the test case title or description. This approach facilitates even non-technical stakeholders to generate automation scripts effortlessly.
- Parsed English – testRigor uses parsed English for creating test scripts, enabling anyone to modify or create them without deep technical expertise. It also removes the need for conventional programming languages. Unlike traditional automation tools, testRigor doesn’t demand extensive maintenance, facilitating swifter release cycles.
- Supports Multitude Testing Types – testRigor supports different types of testing like web and mobile browser testing, mobile app testing, desktop app testing, visual testing, API testing, etc.
- Seamless Integration with CI/CD Tools – testRigor seamlessly integrates with most of the CI/CD tools mentioned above.
If you’re looking for the best tool to handle all your functional and end-to-end testing needs, you should try testRigor if you’re not using it already. It is the most efficient way to create and maintain functional test cases.
Exploring the right CI/CD tools is crucial for DevOps success. Top tools like Jenkins, GitLab, and CircleCI continue to dominate, offering robust features for automation and scalability. The rise of Continuous Testing, integrated within CI/CD pipelines, has only amplified the need for seamless, automated solutions. New entrants like testRigor are making a mark by providing specialized, AI-driven testing capabilities focusing on the end-user experience. The landscape is ever-evolving, and choosing a tool that aligns with your organization’s needs while allowing for Continuous Testing will be the key to a more efficient and effective DevOps strategy.