Continuous Deployment 101: Best Practices for the Popular Engineering Approach
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Posted by: Lucid Content Team
Continuous deployment is the darling of agile development today—and for good reason. Gone are the days of year-long release schedules and oversized software initiatives.
In today’s fast-paced development environment, businesses and organizations have to move quickly to remain competitive. They have to strive for accelerated delivery and shorter time to ROI.
Continuous deployment can help get your business there.
What is continuous deployment?
Continuous deployment is best described in relation to and in tandem with continuous integration processes. These two terms are often used interchangeably to describe an agile development and release process characterized by frequent and rigorous quality assurance and testing and regular delivery of builds to users.
Continuous integration (CI)
CI is an agile method of development where developers integrate code into a shared repository regularly (usually multiple times a day), and the changes are then automatically tested. This process pairs continuous builds and test automation to ensure a solid code base.
The goal is to ensure that the most up-to-date (and tested) code is reflected and maintained in the source code, preventing backups and delays when multiple devs are working on sections of the code at the same time. By frequently integrating their builds in the shared repository, every team member can confidently work on the same version of code.
Continuous deployment is the next step after CI. It is the ongoing delivery of features as they are updated, tested, and ready for release.
Benefits of a continuous iteration and deployment process
A continuous development and release process offers numerous benefits for the team and organization, including:
- Reduced lead time resulting in earlier ROI and feedback from users
- Improved collaboration
- Faster iterations
- Accelerated product delivery
- Increased visibility of bugs and issues
- Low-risk releases
By automating testing, addressing bugs and other performance issues immediately at their source, and releasing updates as they are delivered, software teams can improve their velocity, productivity, and sustainability all while delivering higher-quality builds to market.
Continuous integration best practices
Precisely how your team or organization implements a continuous integration and deployment process will vary depending on your needs and dynamics. However, there are a few central pillars to successful CI and deployment.
Maintain a central code repository
Development teams typically work on multiple pieces of code at a time that need to be orchestrated together to build a cohesive product. Without a clean code repository, the updated lines of code can quickly derail a build. For CI to work, make sure your team commits to a central code repository with a revision control system in place to avoid messy code builds.
Automate the build and deployment
For the “continuous” part of continuous integration and deployment to work, you need to automate wherever you can. Automating the build should include steps like:
- Compiling the code
- Executing unit and integration tests
- Deploying into a production-like environment
Build automation not only increases efficiency and velocity but also produces lower-risk releases that have undergone systematic testing.
Commit to the baseline daily
For a smooth CI process, teams need to commit to the baseline regularly (multiple times a day if possible). By committing regularly, dev teams can reduce the number of conflicting changes and address them quickly at the source.
This practice saves valuable time and effort in the development process as team members can have high confidence in the code they’re working on and the releases they produce.
Using Lucidchart to streamline your processes
When it comes to agile development, communication and clear processes are critical to a successful project. This is especially true for continuous integration and deployment methods that rely on every dev member to check in daily.
Lucidchart helps agile teams streamline and track their processes through visual process flows. Our platform integrates with leading project management software like Confluence and Jira so you can create a central repository of your processes and updated network documentation. Plus, Lucidchart offers multiple sharing options so your team can easily access the information they need when they need it.
Well-executed continuous deployment processes can set your team apart from the competition. Keep everyone on the same page with Lucidchart so you can focus on what matters most—delivering quality releases on time and on budget.
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