Continuous integration (CI) is an important practice in software development, which involves building and testing software frequently and in a controlled manner.
CI can increase software speed, quality, and security; however, it also presents some issues, especially when dealing with complicated dependencies.
Dependencies are relationships between the various modules or components of software systems that depend on each other for proper operation. Managing dependencies within a CI environment requires careful planning, coordination, and automation testing.
In this article, we’ll look at some strategies that will aid you in managing dependencies within an extremely complicated CI environment.
Benefits of Continuous Integration (CI) That You Can Avail In Software Development
Here are some benefits that have made CI(continuous integration) vital to the development of any application.
- Early Detection of Bugs: If there’s an inconsistency with local code, which was not checked before the build fails in the early stages.
Before proceeding, the developer will be forced to correct the issue. This will also benefit the QA team, as they typically work on a reliable and error-free build. You can leverage software testing frameworks such as Selenium, Playwright, and Cypress and tools such as LambdaTest. LambdaTest is AI powered test orchestration and execution platform with 3000+ test environments and a real device cloud. It speeds up the deployment cycles and gives the testers an infrastructure to test websites in real world scenarios.
- Reduces Bug Number: In any app development cycle, bugs will likely happen. But, when a CI/CD is used, and CI/CD is used, the number of bugs can be reduced significantly.
However, it is contingent on the efficiency that the scripts for automated testing are effective. The risk overall has decreased significantly because bugs are now much more easily identified and fixed earlier.
- Automating the Process: The manual work can be reduced significantly because CI automates the build process, as well as sanity and other tests. This ensures that there is a clear path for efficient, continuous delivery.
- Making the Process Transparent: The highest transparency is created in the testing and analysis.
The team understands why the test fails to pass, the reason for the issue, and if there is any major defect. This allows the team to make an instant decision about where and how the effectiveness can be increased.
- Cost-effective Process: As the bug count is minimal, the time spent on manual testing is drastically reduced, and the system’s transparency is improved. It also improves the cost of the project.
Techniques You Can Use to Manage Dependencies in a Complex Continuous Integration Environment
1) Regular Changes & Timely Communication
Developers can use an approach of big bang to create a new feature or fix an issue the team of testers has reported. This means that the developer can use the option to push the feature’s implementation in one go.
Even though the implementation job is complete, some issues arise with this method. The main drawback is that it is extremely difficult to identify the source of the issue (if there’s a glitch in the implementation).
An ideal approach is to break the feature into distinct sub-features and use distinctive characteristic flags for each feature.
This method not only aids in identifying issues that could arise but also assists in creating incremental feature builds as required. It also lowers the risk of encountering integration issues if the final feature (a blend of several sub-features) is transferred into the main-line/production branch.
There may be situations where features are interdependent, i.e., feature “A” depends on feature ‘B’ in which case, either developer must wait for the 100% completion of the feature for which there is a dependence. If they use stubs and flags for features, both feature developers can avoid the deadlock, as stubs can be employed for implementation in progress.
When the required feature is in place, the developer must eliminate the stub-based implementation, an interim solution for implementing a well-known interface.
This type of development needs careful planning and regular interaction between the teams working on development to maximize the benefits of test automation within the CI/CD pipeline. Any lapse in discipline following this process could have a negative impact on the overall schedule of tests.
2) Identify the Test That Can Be Automated
As we mentioned before, It is highly unlikely that all tests could be automated as there are, at a minimum, some tests in which manual testing is more efficient than automated tests.
Because test automation is the core of the CI/CD pipeline, making those tests that can be automated is the best method for CI/CD.
Two broad categories of tests that can be automated include
i) Testing that is performed regularly: If such tests are performed manually by testers, they may be susceptible to mistakes since productivity can decrease as testers are required to run the same test several times during a day.
Consider the scenario of an application that needs to be evaluated for compatibility tests between browsers.
Some test cases may involve capturing the screenshot of your web app while it is being tested on different combinations of browsers/devices/operating systems. Making the screenshot for every combination is a time-consuming task. Thus, automated cross-browser testing can help your testers create successful test cases.
ii) Tests that need knowledge and rely on particular testers: Dependency on resources (developers/testers) who have only the knowledge needed for testing can be risky if the resource is not accessible in a crucial phase in the development.
Only the tester is informed of the requirements and procedures for testing, and his absence could impact the project’s overall deliverables.
These situations can be prevented by integrating test automation into the CI/CD pipeline to ensure that project deadlines are not negatively affected.
There are many situations where automation testing could be utilized, and the goal is to utilize testing tools and platforms (which can be scalable) that will help you achieve your target.
3) One-Click Migration
The time and effort required to transfer code modifications into the production environment could be reduced significantly when there is a single-click feature for transferring code from one environment to another.
A properly designed CI/CD pipeline will include one-click migration as it decreases friction (in moving code) between the various processes.
It is recommended to opt for an efficient cloud infrastructure with this feature, and efficient and effective use of automation for testing can help optimize the development and operations process. Pushing your development with one click is a great way to use a good method for CI/CD.
4) Rollback With Version Control
There are instances when the testing team might discover issues that did not exist in the previous version of the software; the reason for this could be an effect of a fix implemented in the software being tested. Conducting RCA(Root Cause Analysis) could take a long time, and you want to make sure a feature is noticed for many years on your current production system.
In these situations, the person who created this fix can roll back his modifications so that the release is not delayed and he has additional time to look at his approach.
With a version control system, the seamless roll-back process is feasible. The roll-back does not have to be limited to source code. It could be extended to presentations, documents, and flow diagrams.
5) Involving Relevant Stakeholders In Test Code Development
It is crucial to include the appropriate people in test automation design, development, and execution. As developers within the team can add benefits to test programs that the test engineers develop, it’s best to involve them in the testing process.
Developers are more aware of the design and coding methods and the best practices for software development. Expert QA engineers could be familiar with test infrastructure, frameworks, etc.
Thus, developers working with QA engineers will decrease the time and effort required for test case development to improve the speed of automation for the CI/CD pipeline.
In emergencies, the development team can create the automation software without the involvement of the test team to ensure everything runs smoothly in implementing automated tests. It is, however, recommended to include all relevant people, in particular QA engineers and developers, for the test case’s implementation.
6) Feedback For A Robust Automated Testing Strategy In CI/CD Pipeline
The test strategy document provides an appropriate plan for how test automation and other related activities will be planned and executed. Alongside changing test strategies (as and when needed), The feedback loop should be utilized to promptly update the software for testing automation within the CI/CD pipeline.
Feedback can be used to identify the issues of the user and to gain more precise information regarding the general usage of the infrastructure made available for automated testing.
For instance, testers, test automation engineers, and the DevOps team may have observations regarding the infrastructure after an unspecified period during testing.
The observations could be attributed to methods employed for recording logs or porting automated test code written using Python & Selenium to the Cloud infrastructure used for testing or performance related to the testing process.
All feedback received must be recorded in a written document, and the relevant feedback should be added as a good practice in the CI/CD automation pipelines, ensuring that the test program is in sync with current specifications.
How LambdaTest Can Help You To Manage Dependencies in a Complex Continuous Integration Environment?
LambdaTest is a powerful solution to manage dependencies in the complicated Continuous Integration (CI) system.
In a constantly evolving technology landscape where dependencies are often numerous and subject to issues with compatibility, LambdaTest simplifies the process by providing a single platform to test and maintain the dependencies. Its integration capabilities are seamless to various CI/CD tools, making it easier for teams to handle their dependency chain.
By offering a broad range of authentic operating systems and browsers for testing across browsers, LambdaTest ensures that applications and websites can be used in various environments. This allows teams to spot issues earlier in the development process, resulting in more reliable and stable software. In addition, LambdaTest’s automation capabilities help with efficient dependency management. It allows automated testing across different configurations, which ensures a smooth CI pipeline.
Thus, LambdaTest is a valuable tool for businesses looking to simplify their CI/CD workflows and ensure dependencies’ compatibility in a complicated development environment.
Test automation is essential to the overall testing strategy but must be planned and implemented carefully.
Numerous aspects of automation (particularly connected to infrastructure) allow you to use resources without requiring an internal testing infrastructure.
Cloud-based testing, like LambdaTest, can simplify your overall automation plan due to quality of service and scalability. These improvements inspire team members and allow you to get the most from the most effective methods for the CI/CD pipeline.
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