Continuous Development for Faster Delivery

by Alastair Wilkes in

What is Continuous Development and how does it work?  

Deep in the land of DevOps, in the Fires of Development Bottlenecks, the development community forged a master methodology to efficiently create high-quality software. And into this methodology, they poured their automation, their collaboration, and their will to make the lives of developers everywhere easier.

One methodology to rule them all: Continuous Development.

Putting the overdramatized intro aside - as a methodology that complements the ideals of DevOps, Continuous Development works to make software development into an “assembly line”, a well-oiled machine. By streamlining the entire process of building software and automating previously-manual tasks, Continuous Development saves time and cost for the entire organization.

If you’re ready to find out more about this development methodology and how it can impact your team, grab a fresh cup of coffee, turn on your favorite fantasy music soundtrack for background ambiance, and keep reading to start your Continuous Development adventure!

Gandolf

What is Continuous Development?

Like Agile, Continuous Development is a software development methodology born from the needs of development teams to increase velocity without sacrificing quality to meet business demands. 

Continuous Development works with the principles of automation, cross-team collaboration, and early-and-often testing. These components allow developers to fix bugs as soon as possible, work together to avoid building redundant or incompatible code, and minimize the amount of menial work for humans to complete.  

Continuous Development offers four critical organizational benefits: it decreases time to market, allows for more frequent experimentation, faster problem resolution, and greater developer experience. The methodology facilitates quick updates to software and ensures that anything getting released matches up with quality standards. This means better products for customers and overall benefits for the organization.  

Nate Stark

How does Continuous Development work?

Continuous development encompasses the principles of the CICD pipeline, along with the idea of continuous testing. The CICD pipeline is a two-part approach, including Continuous Integration, along with either Continuous Delivery or Continuous Deployment.

Continuous Integration focuses on the first half of the development lifecycle, providing a code repository to serve as a single source for developers to use, running initial tests on every artifact committed to this repository, and completing build automation to prepare the new code for the next stage.

The next stage includes either Continuous Delivery or Continuous Deployment. The two methods complete a similar purpose: delivering builds out of the source code repository and into the test environment. Continuous Deployment completes the delivery, then goes a step further than that. 

Once the builds have passed tests in the test environment, Continuous Deployment automatically deploys the software to production, while Continuous Delivery just leaves the builds there, waiting for human intervention to manually release it. There are pros and cons to Continuous Deployment providing a more robust end-to-end process, but Continuous Delivery works better for companies that are just starting in their CICD pipeline journey. 

Related Article: Comprehensive Guide to Continuous Integration and Continuous Delivery (CICD) Trends

Continuous Testing, the third component of Continuous Development, goes hand-in-hand with the CICD pipeline. It means that rather than waiting until the final stages of development to run tests, the software gets tested throughout the entire cycle, meaning less backtracking for developers and overall faster releases.

gandolf meme

Benefits of Continuous Development

Continuous Development helps teams increase overall developer experience by leading to fewer bottlenecks, improved team collaboration, quicker fixes, and increased delivery speeds. 

Fewer bottlenecks

Continuous Development minimizes bottlenecks by relying heavily on automation. When an organization is using Continuous Delivery, code can travel from initial creation to the testing stage without human intervention. Continuous Deployment means that code could go straight from the developers’ computers to the end-users, seeing that it passes automated testing along the way. 

Better collaboration and communication

Development teams benefit from Continuous Development because it provides them with a central repository to see each other’s work in real-time, along with tools to facilitate communication with other departments such as QA and security.

Faster error correction

Continuous Development also enables developers to correct errors more quickly because of its short feedback loops. A developer using Continuous Integration practices can commit their code to the central repository and receive test results within minutes, making it quicker and easier to fix the issues than if they needed to wait for weeks or months after the fact. 

Quicker time-to-market

Overall, the automation, collaboration, and testing that comes with Continuous Development lead to quicker time-to-market. Updates to existing software can travel through the SDLC much more rapidly, and release timetables are easier to predict and meet.

gandolf continuous deployment

Continuous Development Tools

Continuous Development requires a few tools to function, throughout the CICD pipeline and within Continuous Testing best practices:

1. Continuous Integration

consists of 3 main tool components: source code repository, build automation, and automated tests. These tools are available as individual elements, or they can be found in end-to-end CICD pipeline solutions.

For top tooling options: What are the Best Continuous Integration Tools - Launchable’s CI Tool Recommendations

2. Continuous Delivery

requires two types of tooling: an alert/monitoring system for when the builds leave the repository and enter the test environment, and tools to streamline testing once it reaches the test environment.

For a tool deep dive: Continuous Delivery Tools for Rapid Software Development Cycles 

3. Continuous Deployment

includes the same tools as Continuous Delivery, along with more robust test automation, application release orchestration, and application performance monitoring. 

For deployment tool options: Continuous Deployment Test, Release, and Monitoring Tools

4. Continuous Testing

overlaps with the other three categories. However, it stands apart on its own as the practice of running tests in the best way possible and choosing the correct tests for each situation throughout the SDLC. 

Continuous Development streamlines and automates the development process, leading to quicker releases and better-quality software. By implementing this end-to-end methodology, organizations will see happier developers, faster processes, and more satisfied end-users. 

Boost Continuous Development with Predictive Test Selection and Test Suite Insights

For every change, developers run through a gauntlet of tests and test suites. Every test run adds to the delay in the feedback that developers are waiting on. Launchable supports Continuous Development with Predictive Test Selection identifying and running tests with the highest probability of failing based on code and test metadata to speed up the development feedback loop. 

It’s critical to trust your test suite. But without easy metrics, how can you be certain of your test suite’s health? Launchable arms development teams with Test Suite Insights to give tangible metrics to the ongoing health and success of your testing pipeline. Quickly identify and fix flaky tests, and track critical metrics for trends and anomalies including test session duration, frequency, and failure ratio.

Take your Continuous Development to the next level with Predictive Test Selection and Test Insights. To find out how Launchable is helping teams shatter their Continuous Development goals with faster, smarter testing, reach out to us for a proof of concept today.

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