Adopting a continuous integration approach is one of the best things your team can do in terms of improved efficiency. And since its success relies heavily on continuous integration tools, you have to carefully select the ones that fit your needs best. We’ve looked at seven of the most popular continuous integration tools and listed their advantages to help you choose among similar options.
But before we get down to discussing top continuous integration tools, let’s take a moment to define what continuous integration means.
Continuous Integration (CI) in software engineering is a process of build automation and code testing each time the development team makes changes to version control. During the continuous integration process, developers share and merge their changes (code and unit tests) into a united version control repository upon the completion of every project task.
If you ever wonder why continuous integration is so important, here are some of the reasons:
- CI helps to avoid merge conflicts, difficult-to-fix bugs, duplicated code and discrepant coding strategies
- CI helps to decrease code review time and makes the project code more homogenous
- CI speeds up the development process and pushes releases closer
- CI ensures continuous feedback
- CI helps to reduce the project backlog
While it’s hugely beneficial, continuous integration also requires a lot of work. Luckily, there are tools to help you ace it.
What Do Great Continuous Integration Tools Have to Offer
Currently, there is a wide range of continuous integration tools you can choose from. In fact, their number is so large that managers are often at a loss: how to pick the best continuous integration tools for your project? Keep looking further if the tool you selected doesn’t have the following technical features.
What features great continuous integration tools have to offer:
- Robust ecosystem. A CI tool aims to speed up the project release and take extra efforts out of the development process. Before incorporating the tool, make sure it does not create any bottlenecks for your project.
- Cloud compatibility. A good CI tool should allow transferring data to and from the cloud without any problems.
- Deployment options. A CI tool should allow for trouble-free deployment.
- Integration options. Your CI tool should be capable of integrating with other tools and services that are used on the project.
- Safety and security. A useful CI tool, whether it’s commercial or open-source, should not pose any security threats to your project data.
Along with being technically advanced, a CI tool needs to meet your project and company needs as well. Based on your business strategy, you might want to get a free open-source or a commercial CI solution. What’s more, you should make sure that the chosen tool allows easy project management and transfer. It’s also a good idea to opt for a tool that can visualize the content.
Now, let’s take a look at the overview of the top seven continuous integration tools that can make the workflow of your project easier and more productive.
What Are the Best Continuous Integration Tools?
Here are our top seven picks for the best continuous integration tools to use for your project:
- GitLab CI
Let’s have a closer look at each of them.
Jenkins is one of the most popular free open-source CI solutions that is widely used in software engineering. It is a server-based CI application, written in Java that requires a web server to operate on. Thousands of users all over the world love working with Jenkins as it allows automating builds and tests quickly.
- Local application
- Completely free
- Deep workflow customization
- Rich in features and plugins
- Easy installation thanks to the pre-installed OS X, Unix and Windows packages
- Made by developers for developers
- A well-established product with an excellent reputation
TeamCity is a powerful commercial CI solution that can be used for free during the first hundred build configurations. With TeamCity, you can run parallel builds at the same time, mark your builds and identify the hung ones. TeamCity is easy to install and its interface is really user-friendly. You’ll also love its community and professional support.
- Free up to 100 build configurations
- Running three builds concurrently with three build agents
- Able to import source code from two different VCS into a single build
- Capacity to substitute testers with agents
- Allows testing changes without committing them to the VCS
Bamboo is a server-based CI and deployment tool from Atlassian with a simple and intuitive drag’n’drop user interface. This tool is a popular choice among developers who already use other Atlassian services. Bamboo allows building new branches automatically and merging them after the testing. With this tool, continuous deployment and delivery are easy to reach.
- Effortless integration with other Atlassian tools
- User-friendly UI with drag-and-drop functionality
- Great notification procedure
- Easy administration for enterprise CI scaling
- Allows test automation with the help of elastic agents
- Manages build artifacts automatically through every pipeline run
Buddy is a DevOps automation platform that allows continuous integration, continuous deployment and feedback. This tool was made for working with projects that use code from the Bitbucket and GitHub repositories. Buddy is a commercial tool with a straightforward, user-friendly interface and minimalistic material design. This customer-focused solution has 24/7 live representative support, and its enterprise version allows self-hosting it on a server.
- Instinctive UI
- Intuitive deployment flow building
- Docker support
- Available presets and hints
- Offers advanced automation while requiring basic knowledge
- Ability to make corrections to the developed code
- Flexible automation, cloning, variables, connections and notifications
5. GitLab CI
GitLab CI is a free continuous integration tool with an open-source code. This highly scalable tool is easy to install and set up for projects hosted on GitLab thanks to GitLab API. Apart from testing projects and building them, GitLab CI can deploy builds. This tool points out the areas that need improvement in the development process. Developers working with GitLab usually choose GitLab CI without thinking twice as they automatically get seamless project integration.
- Docker support
- Easy configuration of the build server
- Runs parallel builds across multiple machines
- Available APIs for numerous features allow deep product integration
- An option to secure project data with Confidential Issues
CircleCI is a continuous integration and delivery platform. It supports multiple coding languages, can be installed locally or used in the cloud. This tool makes automated testing, building and deployment easy. Its straightforward user interface is packed with numerous customization features. With CircleCI, developers can reduce the number of bugs and improve app quality quickly. Though it’s a commercial tool, CircleCI offers a free plan for open-source projects.
- Docker support
- Deep customization and easy scaling
- Rich integration options
- Advanced management interface
- Reliable build automation process
- Allows creating complex workflows
- Allows running numerous builds simultaneously
TravisCI is a time-proven CI solution that fits open-source projects best. This continuous integration tool offers a wide range of options for CI automation. Since it is a cloud-hosted service, there is no need for a server. There is also an enterprise-oriented on-premises version of TravisCI. One of the best things about this tool is that it backs up the latest build each time you run a new one.
- Multiple languages and platforms support
- Automated deployment management and statistics
- Enterprise-grade access control
- Effortless GitHub synchronization
- Parallel testing
- Scaling capacity on demand
- Support of branch build flow and pull requests
Continuous integration is a must-have element of the development process on many projects. However, some teams are still looking for a CI tool to incorporate into their strategy. When choosing a continuous integration tool, make sure to pick the one that can fit your project and business requirements best, while speeding and simplifying the development and delivery processes at the same time.
And don’t forget that regardless of the CI tool you go with, you can still make the most of Bitbar’s native integration support with continuous integration tools and a robust REST API.