The Basics of Mobile Continuous Integration Workflow

  November 22, 2016

The mobile workflow has been improving a lot. If there would be only two things to thank for this achievement, no doubt those would be the continuous integration adoption as a part of the mobile development workflow and use of Agile and mobile DevOps types of cultures inside organizations. In these, the automation is the key for successful app development, testing, deployment and eventually monitoring of it running in the user context.

The mobile app quality has become a crucial factor for success in the mobile ecosystem. From indie developers to SMB-sized app/game studios and larger corporations pushing apps for users in various app sub-verticals (banks, retail, insurance, travel, and a dozen of others), they all understand what gaining five-star feedback for their app means.

We’ll take a look at how mobile continuous integration can contribute.

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Historically, automation has been one of the cornerstones (and yes, selling points) for continuous integration and today continuous integration is very much the most important core pieces of most agile, mobile DevOps, development efforts and processes. In fact, the agile methods and mobile devops approaches have lifted continuous integration in its position and it has worked both ways making mobile CI popular among the agile organizations.

Agile Process as Part of Mobile DevOps

The use of automation is already in an epicenter of how developers build their software. Typically companies rely on continuous integration tools (like Jenkins) that bring clarity for development, testing and deployment.

In a nutshell, continuous integration provides a workflow to help managing code and its regressions, and then enabling efficient testing of app builds. With this sort of Agile approach, continuous testing can also happen every time code changes in repository and build gets automatically deployed.

Why Mobile Continuous Integration is Popular?

While for many of mobile developers continuous integration is already a core element there are still organizations jumping on this bandwagon. Especially those organizations that aren’t necessarily yet mobile-first with their doings may also lag with enough motivation and skills to adopt all the greatest mobile devops tools and methods.

However, the mobile continuous integration is popular among development organizations and despite there aren’t much survey data available on how many organizations that has produced the top mobile apps are using CI systems, the growing number of providers with various flavors in continuous integration have provided a boost for both agile and devops minded organizations.

Mobile DevOps and Why it is Popular

The mobile continuous integration speeds up daily doings by automating the development-testing-deployment flow. This has had a direct impact as improved app store ratings (as the quality of app improves), generation of more revenue (better usability, stability and improved user experience) and faster response to any app related issue. The last one is probably the most remarkable benefit coming from the mobile continuous integration and ability to quickly turn around a new build for testing and deployment for users.

Mobile Continuous Integration Workflow

As said, (full) automation of entire development-testing-deployment flow is the most significant value that continuous integration provides. All tasks that would be done manually would only create a time-consuming and error-prone aspect to this sort of development flow.

Furthermore, in order to maximize the effectiveness, efficiency and productivity of the development workflow always starts with the full adoption of automation, in it should be applied too steps of the process. All builds should be tested for acceptance, compatibility, integration and performance – and many more aspects – but this is exactly where mobile continuous integration has its value to offer. With automated, continuous integration, deployment and testing, every application or regression going through and coming out from the development pipeline can be tested in a timely manner and provide results for the next iteration.

Mobile Continuous Integration and Mobile App Testing

Who will benefit from Mobile Continuous Integration?

First of all, developers love continuous integration. Many of modern mobile developers have found CI systems extremely easy to integrated with, get instant feedback on how their latest app version/regression works and what sort of issues might need attention. This all can be achieved with full logs of test runs, screenshots, hardware optimization details and recorded video of that specific test run. Itself, the logs are the vital for developers in order to fix any issues with an app.

Anyone managing the development, testing and deployment aspects also love continuous integration as the managing the overall process and all details of it are easier, results can be gained from out-of-office-hours and managing this type of process is much easier (compared to managing all aspects separately). And furthermore, the management will see impact both on top-line and bottom-line as increased productivity, effectiveness, cost savings and much better quality.

The QA is a huge fan of mobile continuous integration as they are the one who take care of tests, test scripts, frameworks, and basically all things happening between the build and delivering test results back to engineering.