A continuous integration environment is increasingly important in the context of web and mobile application development. The importance of an effective CI environment derives from the need to continuously analyze, build, test, and deploy an application. Setting up such an environment is challenging though. In this article, we will describe the 5 most common challenges. As we do so, we also explain how we at Experitest are helping you to address these challenges.
The top 5 challenges in setting up an effective CI environment are as follows:
1. Integrating CI into your existing development flow
Integrating a new flow into the development and testing process can be hard since it inevitably requires changing the existing processes. Developers and testers have their existing workflows and routines, and they might be reluctant to change them.
An organization needs to do the following in order to implement a continuous integration environment:
- It needs to give enough time to developers and testers so that they can thoughtfully incorporate CI in their workflow.
- The management of the organization needs to fully support this effort. When a process change occurs, there are usually a few “teething troubles”, and the management should support the team through these.
- The organization should provide adequate tooling support to developers and testers.
We at Experitest Experitest have the right integrations, enabling you to provide the tooling support. Our SeeTest platform integrates well with CI environments, e.g., TeamCity, Jenkins, Bamboo, HP ALM, Hudson, etc.
Testers can trigger test automation directly from a CI environment, and run several CI projects in parallel. Our RESTful API enables you to deploy an application simultaneously on multiple target devices, which are hosted on the SeeTest Mobile Device & Browser Lab.
2. Over-dependence on one particular tool
Development and testing teams often use CI tools in sub-optimal manners, e.g., writing environment-specific commands, keeping long shell scripts in Jenkins, etc. With such habits, they fully commit to one tool, therefore, migrating to another environment becomes harder.
They should ideally write scripts and commands that are environment-agnostic, moreover, they should use their project repositories to store them. This reduces the over-dependence on a specific continuous integration environment. Another good practice is to use environment variables, where they can save credentials.
Now, to achieve this, the project team obviously needs to use testing tools and frameworks that work with all CI environments and IDEs. Such tools should also handle automated tests written in all popular languages. We at Experitest offer just the right solution for this.
3. Lack of reports and dashboards
A key challenge in continuous integration environment setup concerns with the lack of reports and dashboards. Open-source CI tools don’t quite provide sufficient reports and analytics, and this noticeably impacts the testing team.
Testing teams need comprehensive test reports, accompanied by screenshots, charts, and tables. They also need robust analytics to gain insights from their testing effort and measure key metrics like test coverage rate.
We at Experitest address this challenge with our SeeTest Reporter, which offers the following features:¬
- Quality dashboard: This is one single dashboard covering your mobile and web application testing, providing you with test execution status and test coverage rate.
- Coverage for all test types: You can get insights about different tests, e.g., unit, smoke, sanity, functional, etc. in one dashboard.
- Root cause analysis: A comprehensive root cause analysis feature helps in investigating test failures, with features like failure grouping, failure correlation analysis, weeding out of repeat failures, etc.
- Collaboration: SeeTest Reporter provides consolidated management summary reports, and helps in managing investigations results and action items.
4. Lack of coordination between CI and “Continuous Delivery” (CD)
Setting up an effective continuous integration environment requires significant coordination and collaboration between CI and CD, and it’s hard to achieve. CI should feed CD, however, setting up a CI pipeline and CD system with the required coordination takes a lot of time.
It’s a cultural transformation requiring the testers, DevOps engineers, scrum master, etc. to proactively collaborate. An effort like this can take months together, and robust tooling support is essential to aid this transformation.
With our SeeTest platform, we can provide the right tooling support here. Take, for e.g., our mobile device and browser lab. It’s easy to set up, and the lab offers advanced management capabilities. This makes the coordination between testers and DevOps engineers easier.
Testers and DevOps engineers need to spend significant effort to add new devices or browsers in the test environment. It’s the same when removing a device, however, our SeeTest Mobile Device & Browser Lab makes these easier.
5. Balancing the frequency of CI jobs with effective utilization of the available resources
After an organization sets up a continuous integration environment, they typically face a different challenge. Every change in the code triggers the CI jobs, and successful jobs enable the change to go through. When an iteration of CI jobs fails, it rejects the code changes.
This automation encourages developers to frequently commit relatively small code changes. Naturally, this triggers a large number of builds every day, however, not every one of these small code changes needed to go through the CI process individually! Developers could have bundled some of them together.
This results in a sub-optimal usage of the CI environment, accompanied by inefficient consumption of computing resources and infrastructure. As with everything concerning DevOps, the solution lies in intelligent tooling as well as a cultural transformation. The project team must coordinate and collaborate better to bundle code changes more effectively.
There is the need to address the tooling aspect as well, and we at Experitest have a practical set of solutions to address the testing. Our SeeTest platform enables parallel test execution on a robust cloud infrastructure.
Our SeeTest Mobile Device & Browser Lab enables this parallel testing on a wide range of devices and browsers, using performant cloud infrastructure. Together, these address the infrastructural challenges of running CI jobs often.
Most organizations use open-source tools to set up their continuous integration environment, and these tools are indeed helpful. However, CI requires cultural transformation and additional tooling support. With our SeeTest platform, we offer this key tooling support in your CI journey.