Maven vs Jenkins : Key Differences
Shreya Bose, Technical Content Writer at BrowserStack - August 4, 2020
Since Maven and Jenkins are two of the most frequently used build and integration tools in existence, a comparison between them is inevitable. DevOps practitioners, in particular, have to pick the right tool because it operates and executes their entire CI/CD pipeline, and an unsuitable tool would almost certainly raise procedural obstacles and create issues with time management.
Let’s begin by getting a sense of each tool so that there is more clarity when comparing them.
What is Jenkins?
Jenkins is an open-source automation tool created with Java. It is extensively used as a CI (Continuous Integration) & CD (Continuous Delivery) tool. Jenkins is ideal for building and testing software projects continuously. Its features make life easier for developers by letting them integrate changes to a project, and allows them to continuously deliver software updates by integrating with multiple testing and deployment tools.
Jenkins empowers organizations to speed up the development process with automation strategies. It controls and executes every step of the development lifecycle: build, document, test, package, stage, deploy, static analysis, and so on.
Jenkins enables Continuous Integration via numerous plugins. In order to integrate a particular tool, just install relevant plugins for that tool. Some of these plugins would be Git, Maven 2 project, Amazon EC2, HTML publisher, and more.
Jenkins works with multiple programming languages and can run on multiple platforms (Windows, Linux, and macOS). It also has vast community support, and there are many plugins (1400, by this count) available for integrating it with other tools like Slack, GitHub, Docker. Additionally, anyone can develop a Jenkins plugin and contribute to it.
The popularity of Jenkins speaks for itself – approximately 15.8 million developers around the world use it.
Advantages of Jenkins
- Since every code commit is built and tested automatically, it allows for the release of new features faster and with fewer errors.
- Whenever an error appears during a test, developers receive immediate feedback and can fix issues in the code at the moment. Otherwise, debugging would be a cumbersome task, since testers couldn’t be sure which commit resulted in the bug.
- Open-source tool with great community support.
- Carries thousands of plugins which makes CI/CD operations much simpler. In case no plugin exists for a necessary task, simply create it and share it with the community.
- Built with Java and is, therefore, portable to all the major platforms.
Disadvantages of Jenkins
- The interface is not as user friendly when compared to some of its competitors.
- Despite being quite popular, Jenkins is not too easy to maintain since it runs on a server and requires a skilled server administrator to monitor its activity.
- Running a Jenkins CI server requires some infrastructural setup. Deploying a Jenkins CI over the cloud can be expensive.
- Spinning up a Jenkins CI server is time-consuming. It also needs maintenance and developer attention when adding a stage in the pipeline or upgrading the Jenkins CI server to incorporate new features.
Now, let’s have a look at Maven.
What is Maven?
Maven is a POM (project object model) based build automation and project management tool written in Java. However, it is compatible with projects written in C#, Python, Ruby. In Maven, the software project is developed using its POM (Project Object Model) which includes information about the project and configuration such as construction directory, source directory, test source directory, dependency, plugins, goals, etc.
Maven primarily intends to provide developers with:
- A comprehensive, reusable, easily maintainable model for projects.
- Plugins or tools to interact with and operate with this model.
A few Maven features worth mentioning are:
- Maven can be used to build any number of projects into predefined output types – jar, war, metadata.
- Maven can automatically download necessary files from the repository when building a project.
- Maven can integrate with a user’s source control system such as CVS in order to manage the release of a project. This can be done without any additional configuration.
- It is easy to port multiple modules of a project into Maven 3 from older versions. Maven 3 also supports all older versions.
- Maven analyzes the project dependency graph and allows for scheduling modules in parallel. This usually facilitates performance improvements.
- Maven comes with improved error reporting. It offers a link to the Maven wiki page which contains a detailed full description of every error.
Advantages of Maven
- Simple project setup aligned with best practices.
- Consistent usage across all projects, which translates to no ramp-up time required for new developers being added to a project.
- Maven makes it easy to start projects in different environments. Users do not need to handle dependencies injection, builds, processing, and other incidentals.
- Dependency management including automatic updating.
- Extensive and constantly expanding repository of libraries.
- Offers the ability to write plugins in Java or other scripting languages.
- Instant access to new features with minimal extra configuration.
Disadvantages of Maven
- If the maven code for an existing dependency is not available, then it is not possible to add that dependency at all.
- One must know the Maven command line or use an IDE with Maven integration, such as NetBeans or Eclipse.
Its learning curve is longer (there are 20-26 different build phases, plus packaging types).
Maven vs Jenkins: Key Differences
- A maven is a build tool designed to manage dependencies and the software lifecycle. It is also designed to work with plugins that allow users to add other tasks to the standard compile, test, package, install, deploy tasks.
- Jenkins is designed for the purpose of implementing Continuous Integration (CI). It checks code out of a repository, builds and packages it, and sends it out to a server for testing – automatically. Jenkins can use Maven as its build tool.
- As mentioned before, creating Maven plugins is easy. But, externally, Maven is configured mainly through XML-based Project Object Model (POM) files. Navigating Maven POM files can be challenging for most Java developers.In the absence of a user-friendly programming framework, modularizing Maven builds and linking modular build steps is cumbersome. Most Maven operations are quite easy, but without a flexible and intuitive programming model built, more challenging tasks (like turning Maven into an integration server) becomes close to impossible. However, a task like this is incredibly easy with an integration server like Jenkins, and it wins out in this case.
- Before Maven, Java developers often struggled to identify why the log4j dependency was unsatisfied on the production server, or why their pre-prod environment kept dealing with a SunCertPathBuilderException every time a remote session was initiated. Maven solved this through its ability to consistently build Java applications across multiple development stages, while simultaneously maintaining linked library consistency. It can also prod-ready artifacts to remote servers or software repositories.
- While Jenkins cannot do exactly this, Jenkins builds can be highly parameterized, and Jenkins can easily modularize builds into numerous steps – compile, test, package.
- Maven allows users to run a single archetype command and create the foundation of a completely compliant Jakarta EE, Spring Boot, Java EE MicroProfile, or Android application.
- Creating a Maven plug-in is easier than Jenkins. It can be done with a basic knowledge of Java programming. Additionally, Maven installation is extremely simple, and it does not need to be hosted on a servlet engine, unlike Jenkins.
- When Jenkins deploys artifacts to remote repositories, they are usually Maven repositories (JFrog’s Artifactory or Sonatype’s Nexus).
- Jenkins usually packages and deploys using the Jenkins Maven plug-in. In this case, the Maven plug-in is doing the heavy lifting.
After scanning through this article, something becomes rather apparent. Jenkins cannot replace Maven or vice-versa. When it comes to compiling code and running tests, Maven wins – which is why Jenkins integrates with Maven for this purpose.
While it is important to be clear on the differences between these two widely-used frameworks, the best results usually emerge when developers and testers choose Maven-Jenkins integration. They shouldn’t be competing, but rather, working together.
Both Maven and Jenkins are distinct tools, built to fulfill distinct roles in the development lifecycle. Obviously, they overlap in a few functional areas, but it is rare for a situation to occur in which one needs to be chosen over the other. The most effective DevOps journeys are those which prioritize Maven-Jenkins integration.
That said, if one has to choose between the two, Jenkins would be the one to go for. Maven is good for one part of the process – compiling code and executing tests. But Jenkins controls every stage of the CI/CD pipeline, and thus is instrumental in facilitating a smooth and successful DevOps landscape.
Pick a cloud-based testing service that offers integration with Jenkins, such as BrowserStack. Use the BrowserStack Jenkins plugin to:
- Configure your BrowserStack credentials for your Jenkins jobs.
- Set up and tear down the BrowserStack Local binary for testing internal, development and staging environments.
- Embed BrowserStack test results, including video, logs, and screenshots in your Jenkins job results.
Start running tests on a cloud Selenium Grid of 2000+ real browsers and devices, and seamlessly integrate the tests into a CI/CD pipeline for maximum efficacy and accuracy.