End of the big bang integration era
The integration of software systems is often a long and painful process that is in most cases postponed until the different components have been built and delivered separately. This does not necessarily have to be the case.
Integration can be performed in an iterative way as from the start of the project, rather than via ‘big bang integration’ where software modules are developed in isolation and integrated at the end of the project.
What is continuous integration?
Continuous integration is a software development practice intended to reach a high level of integrated and continuous development activity. Its goal is to reduce the scope of integration problems. The term ‘continuous integration‘ comes from the Extreme Programing development process, where it was one of 12 original practices. The practice was intended for the automation of unit testing, verifying that all unit tests have been passed before committing to the mainline. Later expansions of the practice included the use of build servers to automate the code build process each time a developer checked in a change before unit testing was launched. By continually applying automated quality control (with each modification of the source code), organisations aim to improve the quality of the software and its delivery time.
While the concept of continuous integration has been around for several years, experts in the software industry believe it will become increasingly vital in software development in the current business environment. The cost of computing is continually declining, but human resources costs remain more or less constant. Continuous integration intends to shift the effort from developers to software to reduce overall costs.
Inside magazine issue 6, October 2014
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