Integration Testing

Introduction to Continuous Integration Testing

April 10, 2023
Read Time : 8.5 min

In the world of product development, innovation goes through a phase of trial and error. Previously, when developers used to work individually or in teams to develop a new part of their software they would upload their codes to build the server, along with codes from other developing teams. After this, they would try to merge and resolve all the conflicts in the codes. Ultimately it resulted in bug accumulation and the entire procedure became very time-consuming. As you can see, it is not rocket science to see the flaw in this kind of approach. Various methods were used to improve the entire process. However, most methods went only a short way to solve this issue. Thus we come to Continuous Integration Testing.

CI pipeline testing allows software engineers to automate the integration of all the code changes from multiple contributors into a single repository. It allows developers to merge changed codes frequently in a central repository, where developers can build, test and run their codes. Automated tools are used to check the correctness of the codes before integration. This is one of the main reasons why companies today prefer to use the Continuous Integration pipeline over the old methodologies of testing. In this article, we will discuss Continuous Integration Testing and also point out how it can help your business.

Before learning how Continuous Integration Testing can help your business, let us first understand CI Testing, its importance and the types of CI Testing.

What is Continuous Integration Testing? Continuous Integration is a method in DevOps where changes are merged in a single central repository to automate and test all the codes. Basically, it refers to the automated integration of all code changes coming from different multiple contributors frequently in a single repository. The process incorporates various automated tools to focus on the correctness of the codes before integration. The ability to build, run and test codes parallel with multiple developing teams is one of the biggest advantages of the CI pipeline. 

Continuous Integration Testing is a process that is executed during the Continuous Integration process and it is done by tools (like Travis CI, CircleCI, and other open-source tools such as Jenkins and Drone) which build, package, and publish the codes. It aims to address bugs quickly, improve quality, reduce validation time, release new software updates, and increase customer satisfaction. CI testing focuses on the correctness of the code prior to the deployment to the integration environment. Testing the codes in the CI pipeline allows for feedback, and based on results it can stop the progression of the codes if the requirement is not met.

CI Testing work as quality gates during the process of the CI pipeline of build, packaging, and publishing of codes. For instance in JAVA, CI testing can run tests before the JAVA JAR build-up. Then, continue the test of the Docker Image produced out of the JAVA JAR during the packaging process. Finally, before publishing the codes to the Docker Registry, checks are done for licensing and vulnerabilities. This helps to make better-quality software easily.

Thus with the help of the CI pipeline, many companies have found that this approach has helped them a lot to detect multiple errors easily and reduce integration problems. Thus it allows the developer team to develop cohesive software more easily.

Importance of Continuous Integration Testing

Continuous Integration Testing is an important aspect of the CI pipeline. It allows developers to iterate and get feedback on errors in the codes. The process of development can incur multiple cycles before the integration of the written or modified codes into the software. Clearing the Continuous Integration Tests not only means that the codes have the ability to be built, but a level of quality has also been met before publishing. So here are the

Advantages of CI testing

Early testing to identify bugs and fixes
Quick Scalability option to stay ahead in the market
Reduce manual efforts of engineers and increase efficiency
Increase in the revenue generation
Automation of all integrated process
Constant Feedback
Quick maintenance and easy update
Customer satisfaction
Reduced cost
Increase transparency and accountability
Quicker mean time to resolution
Integrate smaller code changes

A failing build is less severe than a failing deployment. There is always an expectation that the build with the inherited quality checks might not pass the check initially, because it is the first time when codes from a developer’s machine are brought together. Having bugs and fixing them during CI testing is completely fine. These tests are performed in the CI pipeline and fall under mainly two categories: on-process testing and off-process testing. Now let us understand in detail the two main categories of testing in the CI pipeline.

On-Process Testing and Off-Process Testing

Testing in CI pipelines can be divided into two categories- those that are directly managed and controlled by the CI process and those that are not. It is similar to the process of operating on a developer’s local machine vs one that must reach out. If you take your Integrated Development Environment (IDE) as the hub of the local build, codes run inside the IDE like unit tests which can interact with external third-party tools like container scanners. 

On Process Testing

The type of test that can be executed in the CI pipeline is known as on-process testing. On-process testing is done by performing specific-language step tests that the build process understands. 

Off Process Testing

Off-process testing emphasises non-functional requirements, which functional tests would cover. Off-process testing allows submitting data, and code, to a third party external to the CI  process. 

Different Types of CI Testing

During the whole process of the CI pipeline, several types of CI tests are run to automate the build. They are:

  1. Code Quality Tests - In Code Quality check, tools look for dead blocks, security issues, and syntax errors in the source code. Tools like Checkmarx and SonarQube focus on static code analysis but it does not check the functionality of the codes.
  2. Unit Testing - Unit tests are mainly on-process testing where mock objects are created to verify the functionality of codes. Unit tests are intended to be granular and perform as a suite. It tests every unit of the code against the set parameters.
  3. Integration Testing - In integration testing of the CI pipeline, the focus is on testing cross modules of the application to check its functionality. In simple terms, it checks the functionality of multiple codes of an application at the same time.
  4. Security or License Testing - Security or license testing helps to find the loopholes and the risk of using the application. Tools like Snyk, Blackduck, and StackHawk, use different methods of introspecting an application. 
The advantage of running tests in a CI pipeline is that it enables continuous testing. Whether you are starting from scratch or not, it is always wise to move your first test into a CI pipeline.

How to Move Your Tests Into a CI Pipeline?

Moving your first test in the CI pipeline will need the required dependencies for builds, tests, and packaging to run the codes. So for example, if you are writing a JAVA script that will be packaged into Docker, ensure the CI platform can support the JAVA build and the Docker Runtime. 

Final Takeaway

If you want to reap the benefits of a DevOps approach then the CI pipeline is very important. It will help your engineering team to build and execute software more easily. For many software development companies around the world, CI has become synonymous with high-efficiency software development practice. There are many companies that provide efficient Continuous Integration testing tools that can help you to scale up your business.

Problems with running tests at scale can incur a great loss of visibility. This will increase your execution tests and lower test coverage. For developers, working in long feedback loops is very risky. It can increase the chances of errors and increases the amount of work needed to integrate into the working version of the software. But if you automate all the integration steps, developers can avoid repetition and decrease the likelihood of errors. Rather than having developers decide on how and when to run the tests, a CI tool can efficiently monitor the central repository and can run all the tests on commands. Based on the results of the test, it will accept or rejects the codes.

So having a robust Continuous Integration Testing pipeline can help to decrease human errors and scale up your business. There are many best third-party tools that exist to help in CI pipeline management and installation. Some of the most popular options available in the market are Codeship, CircleCI, Bitbucket Pipelines, Bamboo, SemaphoreCI, Jenkins, TeamCity, and many others. These tools can guide you in the proper ways to help you get started.

  • By The Invimatic Editorial Team
  • 10 April, 2023
  • Categories: CI Testing