Q

What's out there for CI tools and server products?

CI tools and servers from several sources offer the necessary features to get any development team started on the path toward continuous integration.

What tools are available for continuous integration?

There are multiple continuous integration tools and servers available from both open source and proprietary sources for both large corporations and small. A few popular options are Jenkins CI (formally Hudson Labs), JetBrains' TeamCity and Microsoft's Visual Studio Online. Other alternatives exist and may be a better fit for your organization. These three options have fairly wide appeal.

A few popular CI options are Jenkins CI (formally Hudson Labs), JetBrains' TeamCity and Microsoft's Visual Studio Online.

Jenkins is the most popular product among extendable open source continuous integration (CI) tools. It is written in Java and integrates well with a variety of version control and supply chain management software. A Web-based graphical user interface handles the configuration with embedded error checks and up-to-date help. A list of URLs or permalinks can be generated that allows build tracking and troubleshooting.

The Jenkins CI tool is extensible to a wide variety of third-party plug-ins as well as individual developer plug-ins used by teams. In other words, it is fully customizable by engineers to suit the needs of the team. Another feature is that builds can be tagged prior to or after the fact. In addition, builds can be distributed to multiple computers. Jenkins also lets you track builds and jar versions with file fingerprinting.

TeamCity is a proprietary CI server product from Prague-based JetBrains. It offers full support of multiple tools, including automatic tool version detection, support for testing frameworks, code coverage and static code analysis. Developers need no modifications or plug-ins to build scripts. TeamCity allows them to build, check and execute automated test suites before committing the code changes, so release builds remain pristine. It also tracks builds and supplies status information at any point in the build process.

Visual Studio Online (VSO) is Microsoft's change to Team Foundation Server to make it work with CI. VSO supports Git distributed and Team Foundation Version Control centralized source control. It includes dynamically created build servers that automatically generate builds when a source code change is checked in. And it supports continuous delivery to Windows Azure.

VSO also executes automatic load tests, which are critical to applications releasing in a continuous cycle. It offers team room collaboration for Agile teams and Agile project management. Note that although it's a proprietary product from Microsoft, the service is free for up to five users.

This was first published in July 2014

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