Turn your manual testers into automation experts! Request a DemoStart testRigor Free

Continuous Integration and Testing: Best Practices

What is Continuous Integration (CI)?

Gartner defines CI as “Systems that provide automation of the software build and validation process driven in a continuous way by running a configured sequence of operations every time a software change is checked into the source code management repository.

How does testing fit into CI?

Imagine working on a complex jigsaw puzzle with a group of friends. Each friend is working on a different section of the puzzle independently. Instead of waiting until everyone has finished their sections and then trying to combine all the pieces at once, you all decide to frequently bring your pieces together to see how they fit. Each time a new section is added, you quickly verify that it fits properly with the pieces already in place. If there’s a mismatch, you immediately make the necessary adjustments. This ongoing process of regularly checking and integrating helps ensure that the final picture forms correctly without surprises.

Drawing parallels from this analogy, we can see that testing is an integral component of Continuous Integration (CI) and plays a critical role in maintaining the quality and reliability of software throughout the development process.

How does testing enhance CI?

Testing within CI is about more than just finding bugs. It’s about maintaining software quality continuously through regular and comprehensive testing, which helps manage risks, reduce downtime, and consistently ensure that the software meets both functional and non-functional requirements.

What are the key components of CI testing?

If you take a look at a setup having CI with testing, you will see the following components.

Automated build process

Refers to the method of automatically compiling code, running tests, and creating software artifacts (like executables or binary files) that can be deployed. This process contains below components:

  • Version control systems
  • CI server
  • Automated build system

Automated testing

Involves using software tools to run tests automatically, manage test data, and utilize results to improve software quality. It helps in identifying defects at an early stage, thus reducing the manual overhead of testing, speeding up the feedback process, and increasing the efficiency of the development process. The below components are the building blocks for automated testing:

  • Test automation frameworks: They are sets of assumptions, concepts, and practices that provide support for automated software testing. These test automation frameworks might include predefined guidelines like coding standards, test-data handling methods, object repositories, and scripts for easy maintenance and enhancement of test suites. Below testing types are the primary testing types, however there are many others as well. Read here about the different testing types.
  • Test environments: They are setups where software, hardware, and networks are configured to execute tests that simulate real-world conditions. This includes providing various configurations which can help in identifying platform-specific issues and ensuring that the software performs well in all expected conditions. Here is a good article about managing your test environment.

Here is a quick test automation playbook.

Code quality checking

It involves automated tools and processes that examine source code for compliance with coding standards, security vulnerabilities, and other programming errors. It’s crucial for maintaining the overall health of the codebase, improving the security of the application, and ensuring that best practices are followed throughout development.

CI and testing process

Best practices

Here are some ways in which you can improve testing during the CI phase.

Maintain a single source repository

Use a single source repository to maintain all source code. This ensures that everyone on the team is working with the latest version and integrates their changes continuously.

Make your builds self-testing

Make sure that your build process includes running a suite of automated tests. This helps in identifying issues early in the development cycle. Read in this article about Shift Left Testing – Software Testing Done Right.

Test in a clone of the production environment

Use a testing environment that mirrors your production system as closely as possible to reduce the chances of environment-specific failures. Read: Testing in Production: What’s the Best Approach?

Make it easy to get the latest build

Ensure that the latest successful build is easily accessible to stakeholders (e.g., testers, product managers) to facilitate continuous progress assessment and feedback.

Everyone commits to the mainline every day

Encourage developers to commit changes to the mainline at least once a day. This reduces integration problems and allows teams to detect issues early.

Keep the build and test environment clean

Regularly clean your build and test environments to remove old artifacts and ensure consistent builds. Read: What is a Test Environment? A Quick-Start Guide.

Branching strategy

Adopt a well-defined branching strategy that suits your team’s workflow, such as Git Flow or the simpler Feature Branch Workflow. Use the Feature Branch Workflow to keep all new development off the main branch. Each feature is developed in its own branch and only merged back to the main branch after it passes all CI tests.

Prioritize test maintenance

Regularly review and maintain test suites to ensure they are effective, relevant, and efficient. You might have to allocate time during development sprints for updating and refactoring tests, removing outdated tests, and improving test coverage and performance.

Parallel execution of tests

Run tests in parallel to reduce the time it takes to get feedback from the CI server. You can configure your CI server to distribute test execution across multiple machines or containers to decrease build times significantly. Here is an article about parallel testing.

Incremental builds

Use incremental builds to compile only the changes since the last build, rather than rebuilding the entire project. Tools like Gradle and Maven support incremental builds natively, determining which parts of the codebase have changed and only recompiling those parts.

Leverage containerization

Use containers to create consistent environments for development, testing, and production. For example, Docker can be used to containerize your application along with its environment, ensuring that it runs the same way in every environment from development to production.

Fail fast mechanism

Design the CI pipeline to catch and report failures as early as possible. You can configure the CI pipeline to run faster, lighter tests like unit tests before slower, more comprehensive ones like integration or UI tests. This way, if a build is going to fail, it fails quickly.

Security integrations

Integrate security testing tools into the CI pipeline to catch vulnerabilities early. Tools like OWASP ZAP, Fortify, or SonarQube can be integrated into the CI process to perform static and dynamic security analysis as part of every build.

Environment and configuration management

Keep environment configurations and properties separate from the codebase and manage them securely. Use environment variables for sensitive keys and configuration settings, and manage these securely using tools like HashiCorp Vault or AWS Secrets Manager.

Practice code reusability

Encourage code reusability even during test case writing to reduce redundancy and streamline the CI process. Utilize libraries or microservices architectures where common functionalities are abstracted into shared components or services, reducing the scope and complexity of testing individual services.

Robust rollback mechanisms

Make sure that there are robust mechanisms to rollback changes in production if issues are detected post-deployment. You can implement blue-green deployments or canary releases within the CI/CD pipeline to minimize downtime and risk by gradually shifting traffic to the new version while having an immediate rollback option if needed. Here is an article about Minimizing Risks: The Impact of Late Bug Detection.

Regular pipeline audits

Regularly audit and review the CI pipeline and practices to identify bottlenecks, outdated practices, or security issues. You can conduct quarterly audits of the CI setup to evaluate the efficiency of tools, security of data, and effectiveness of testing strategies, making adjustments as necessary.

Test automation tools for the job

When picking a test automation tool, you need to consider the following factors.

Factors to consider when choosing a tool

  • Compatibility: Ensure the tool supports the programming languages and frameworks your application uses.
  • Integration: Check how easily the tool can be integrated into your existing CI/CD pipeline.
  • Scalability: Consider whether the tool can handle the scale of your applications and development team. Read this good article about Test Scalability.
  • Cost: Evaluate the cost of the tool against your budget, including the need for any additional infrastructure or licenses. Know How to Save Budget on QA.

Continuous integration and testing with testRigor

A powerful tool in the market that makes testing seamless and possible for everyone is testRigor. This cloud-based tool uses generative AI to make test case creation, execution, and maintenance easy. Let’s see how it does this.

  • Negligible test maintenance cost: Test automation tools have a bad reputation for incurring heavy test maintenance costs. This is mainly due to them hinging their test cases on implementation details of the software like XPaths or CSS selectors of elements seen on websites. But if these details change, the test case fails, even if the element looks exactly the same to the tester. Here’s where testRigor shines out.

    This tool does not depend on the tester to provide it with these technical details and instead, just asks what is the text on screen and where the element is seen. So even if the element’s implementation details are changed a bit, it will not fail the test case testRigor is running. Know How do I maintain tests in testRigor?

  • No coding experience needed: Your entire team, right from developers, to manual testers, and even business folks, can understand and even write test cases in testRigor. Why? This is because it uses plain English language commands.

    For example, if you want to tell testRigor to click on a button, just write ‘click on “Logout”’. You can also use their generative AI feature to create test cases. The tool also has a record-and-playback feature that captures the test case in action and converts it into plain English statements. Read how testRigor is a Test Automation Tool For Manual Testers.

  • Integration with major CI frameworks: You can expand testRigor to integrate your test cases into your CI framework as there is provision for doing so. Check out the available integrations over here.

  • Test reporting capabilities: testRigor creates reports of test runs and other such artifacts for you to peruse over. You can configure it in a way so that these details are sent to you via email or other channels like Slack. Read: Test Reports – Everything You Need to Get Started.

  • Built-in test data management: testRigor will give you a place to store your test data so that you can use it throughout the testing process. What’s more is that you need not use any kind of coding to create test data over here, all thanks to their user-friendly interface. Know about tools for Effective Test Data Management.

  • Test almost anything: testRigor supports testing across different devices and platforms like the web and mobile web, native mobile, and native desktop. There’s support available for testing across different browsers and OSes as well.

Besides being able to perform functional testing, end-to-end testing, regression testing, API testing, UI testing, user acceptance testing, you can do a lot more. Take a look at testRigor’s offering over here.

Additional resources


How does CI fit into the larger DevOps culture?

CI is a fundamental practice within DevOps that promotes collaboration between developers and operations teams. It is a way to ensure that new code changes are integrated, tested, and ready for release to production, facilitating continuous delivery and deployment, which are core to DevOps practices. Read about th popular DevOps Testing Tools.

Why is Continuous Integration important?

CI will help you detect and fix integration problems early, improves software quality, and reduces the time it takes to validate and release new software updates. Additionally, it enables a more agile development process by allowing teams to integrate and validate their work more frequently and efficiently.

Why is testing a critical component of Continuous Integration?

Testing in CI ensures that as new code is integrated, it does not adversely affect the existing functionality of the application. It helps catch bugs early, improves software quality, and reduces the risk of significant issues at later stages, which can be costly and time-consuming to fix.

What types of automated tests should be run in CI?

The types of automated tests typically include:

  • Unit Tests to check the functionality of individual components.
  • Integration Tests to ensure that different components or systems work well together.
  • Regression Tests to verify that new changes have not adversely affected existing functionality.
  • Depending on the project, you may also include Performance Tests and Security Tests as part of the CI process.
How can we optimize test performance in CI?

To optimize test performance:

  • Prioritize and sequence tests, running the fastest and most critical tests first.
  • Use parallel testing to run multiple tests simultaneously.
  • Maintain high-quality, effective tests by regularly reviewing and refactoring them to avoid redundancies.
  • Utilize test data management techniques to ensure tests have access to the necessary data quickly and efficiently.
Join the next wave of functional testing now.
A testRigor specialist will walk you through our platform with a custom demo.
Related Articles

Top 7 CI/CD Tools to Explore in 2024

Table of contents: Continuous Integration Continuous Deployment Continuous Delivery How CI/CD Gained Popularity? Top CI/CD Tools ...

A Roadmap to Better Agile Testing

Brief Overview of Agile Testing and Its Importance Agile testing is a software testing practice that emphasizes communication, ...

QAOps: What is it? How Important is it?

While many modern software teams are practicing DevOps these days, a smaller fraction have embraced QAOps with the same level of ...