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How to build Automation and Continuous Integration

This article will look at automated builds and continuous integration, and explain why they are an important part of the DevOps process.

What are automated builds?

Automated builds are valuable because they:

  • Validate that code compilation doesn’t just succeed ‘on my machine.’
  • Run as many tasks as needed, such as scripting, testing, packaging or anything else required.
  • Publish to a drop folder or network share to be picked up for deployment.
  • Maintain an audit history for build details, drop details and associated work items.

In DevOps, automated builds are an integral part of continuous integration (CI), which is the practice of merging all developer working copies to a shared code line several times a day, and validating each integration with an automated build. In practice, CI is often defined as having a build with unit tests that execute at every commit or check-in to version control.

Continuous integration (CI) benefits

  • Improving code quality based on rapid feedback.
  • Triggering for automated testing for every code change.
  • Better managing technical debt and conducting code analysis.
  • Reducing long, difficult and bug-inducing merges.
  • Increasing confidence in code long before production.

When you use automated builds and continuous integration, you should ensure that you’re optimising for the speed of CI and how quickly code flows from one developer to another for fast feedback in the build process (including tests). For example, if you need to perform a four-hour security scan, you shouldn’t hold up a CI build.

Regarding deployments, you should consider holding up a release if that could break the ‘build’ or release before going to production.

Automated builds are an important part of the DevOps process and should constantly be improved for efficiency and stability.

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