Build Automation: Everything you Need to Know
By Shormistha Chatterjee, Community Contributor - March 14, 2023
The magic happens inside a CI/CD pipeline, chains of systems that grab the code that a software developer builds, run it through test gates, and deploy it to the end product when everything works. One of the main links in this chain is planning and automating the build routine.
So, now we’ll discuss what build automation is, its key metrics, how it works, and the important tools that can assist you in handling the process.
- What is Build Automation?
- Importance & Benefits of Build Automation in Software Development
- What is Continuous Integration?
- Role of CI in the Automated Build Process
- How to Automate the Build Process?
- Choosing/Integrating the Right Build Automation Tool
What is Build Automation?
The Build is preparing and turning your source code into executable software. It can include compilation, file compression, the packaging of assets, updating database schema, creating an installer or executable file, signing with a certificate, testing, and more.
That said, Build automation is a sophisticated approach to controlling and managing builds within a CI/CD pipeline with multiple steps.
- The Set of User Stories/ Features per Build- Indicates the number of modifications being executed and maps to business value being formed.
- Average Build Time- Specifies the average time to execute a build.
- Percentage of Failed Builds- Impacts the entire team’s productivity due to rework.
- Change Execution Lead Time- Affects the number of releases per period and complete product roadmap preparation.
- Builds Frequency – Point toward the overall activity and output of the project.
Importance & Benefits of Build Automation in Software Development
Any modification you wish to make in the software development and designing process will affect how you wish to build the particular product. Finding the flaws within the product-building process is an arduous task and expensive. But, if the modifications you made within the building process of the product give you a positive outcome in the long run, it will be a worthy investment of money and time.
This is where Build Automation can offer you the solution. Build Automation doesn’t only assist developers in running tasks before then the assured deadline but also in the deployment process of their products.
Some of the major benefits of build automation:
- Improves Quality – Build automation assists your QA team in moving faster. That means you can find errors faster and mitigate them to enhance the quality of your product and avoid bad builds.
- Boost Productivity – Build automation makes sure faster feedback. This means your software developers improve productivity.
- Accelerates Delivery – Build automation aids you in speeding up delivery. That’s because it removes redundant tasks and guarantees you find problems faster, so you can launch faster.
- Retains a Complete History – Build automation maintains a thorough history of files and modifications. That means you can easily track glitches back to their source.
- Saves Money and Time – Build automation saves money and time. That is why build automation sets you up for CI/CD, accelerates delivery, enhances productivity, and improves quality.
Must Read: Benefits of Automation Testing
What is Continuous Integration?
The term ‘CI’ (Continuous Integration) defines the modification that has been integrated constantly within a system. In this procedure, the system can integrate those modifications automatically using the source code in the production and generate binaries with the aid of current changes. Here, you must know that automation testing and building will confirm each integration within the system.
- Developers can also get CI (continuous integration) service with the Cloud.
- The cloud infrastructure will allow the developers to track and configure several software deployment and development procedures phases.
- Through the cloud, software developers can automate such steps and save time and effort.
You can rely on testing with 3000+ real browsers and devices on BrowserStack’s real device cloud. Automated tests in the CI/CD pipeline tested on real browsers and devices is a real boon for the developers.
Role of CI in the Automated Build Process
The automated build process allows CI (Continuous Integration). So, the role of CI in the build automation process is that CI uses build automation to verify check-ins and allow teams to identify issues early.
Due to its relationship with CI, build automation also makes CT (Continuous Testing) and CD (Continuous Delivery) possible.
How to Automate the Build Process?
Quality assurance to Quality engineering and Testing are significant parts of the Software Development Life Cycle. Testing tools integrated into source code as a section of the build, such as JUnit or tests can be externally called against the app, e.g. performance test tools like JMeter or Gatling. Tests can paint an extensive brush, and there is loads of coverage between the source code and the running app.
Here is how to Automate the Build Procedure:
- Write the code.
- Commit code to a shared, central repository.
- Scan the code utilizing tools.
- Start a source code review.
- Accumulate code & files.
- Run test automation.
- Notify contributors to mitigate issues.
Preferred Build Automation Tools
- Jenkins is one of the open-source build automation tools for Java, offering CI and CD.
- With around 200,000 known installations it is the most broadly deployed tool.
- Jenkins comprises a wealth of extensions for customization.
- It has huge community support, and several plugins are accessible to integrate it with other tools like GitHub, Slack, and Docker.
- Besides, anybody can develop a Jenkins plugin & contribute to it.
- Highly configurable
- Many plugins
- Version control
- Works with Maven, Ant, scripts, etc.
- CircleCI is a CI platform that aims for speed and broad flexibility, promising to work with any language that builds on Linux, Windows, or Mac.
- Its YAML configuration can take time, yet it offers benefits over tools like Jenkins , allowing you to keep tasks in an individual document.
- To run tests on real gadgets, you can add integrations for BrowserStack in the config.yml file. It supports famous test automation frameworks like Playwright, Cypress, Selenium, and Puppeteer.
- Automation testing
- Failure notifications
- Advanced caching options
Read More: Circle CI vs Jenkins: Core Differences
3. Travis CI
- Travis CI is a CI tool with a free plan that aims for simplicity.
- It covers over 700,000 users and is a perfect choice if you wish straight configuration. Its presets enable rapid configuration, but it doesn’t have several plugins or configuration choices as tools like Jenkins.
- Its clean builds execute from a fresh environment every single time, avoiding awkward glitches that can be tough to diagnose and fix.
- Pull request testing
- Supports over 30 languages
- Clean build VMs
- Connects to Bitbucket and GitHub
4. Apache Maven
- Apache Maven is open-source and free.
- It is the famous and well-accepted build automation tool in Java.
- It can manage a series of tasks and is simple for coders to configure and set up owing to its straightforward documentation.
- Highly extensible
- Reproducible builds
- Strong dependency management
- Release management
- Model-based builds, requiring slight input to set up
Also Read: Maven Dependency Management with Selenium
- TeamCity is a build automation tool with several versions from JetBrains pitched at DevOps-centric teams.
- It has over 30,000 clientele
- It integrates well with numerous other tools, including JetBrains’ own ReSharper and IntelliJ IDEA, which are bundled.
- CI (continuous integration) & code reuse
- Incorporates with other tools such as Docker and Maven, as well as various cloud services
- User & build history management
Choosing/Integrating the Right Build Automation Tool
Before choosing an automation tool everybody has to go through the following easy steps:
- Step 1: Collect all the necessities- The initial step is to collect all the necessities that are required for our project
- Step 2: Categorize your requirements- The next step is to classify the necessities i.e split the requirements as technical, basic, feature, and business.
- Step 3: Make a list of tools against basic needs- After categorizing the necessities, the tools should be mapped with all kinds of requirements to ensure whether the tool is gratifying all the needs
- Step 4: Generate a chart for comparison- At last, a contrast chart has to be plotted using all the specifics and create the scorecard which will let us know which tool is better suited for the particular project.
- Step 5: present a descriptive view of the framework and the specifics of all tools to know their feasibility across projects.
Common Issues with Build Automation
- Complicated Builds- As your product progresses, there are numerous versions of your code and also many versions of such components, creating a multi-dimensional matrix of dependencies & supported behaviors. That’s where things get complex to build.
- Long build times- The additional components you add to your software, the extra lines of code you manage, and the more tests you execute, the longer the build will take. Long builds could be a massive problem and one that can “creep up” on a software development team.
- Maintaining compatibility with manifold environments- Maintenance has been a huge challenge with automated tests for decades. It is typically suggested that about 30% of a QA’s time be allocated for maintaining testing.
Best Practices for Build Automation
- Breaking down the build process
- Keeping build scripts easy and manageable
- Documenting the build process
- Checking, monitoring, and troubleshooting builds
- Integrating feedback from automated testing
But these problems can be diminished if corrective arrangements are taken at each step of the automation framework-building process. BrowserStack Automate is the most preferred platform to run build automation test scripts and integrate with CI/CD tools like Bamboo, Jenkins, AWS pipelines, Azure pipelines, Travis CI, and many more
To Sum Up,
To deliver a robust and reliable software application, having an effective test strategy is absolutely imperative. Build Automation and Continuous Tests plays a vital role in the CI/CD pipeline as it assists in accelerating test results and facilitate the speedy delivery of user-friendly and robust software.