What Is CI in Software Development?

by Anna Khrupa on Mar 23, 2022

Continuous Integration, or CI for short, is a practice that implies integrating various code changes by different developers into one repository. This repository is open for a number of developers that can implement changes in the code easily and, most importantly, frequently. The purpose of Continuous Integration is to implement the changes rapidly and test them efficiently to locate and fix errors as soon as possible. Automated tools are utilized to verify every integration and pinpoint errors right away.

How Continuous Integration Works

One of the main questions about CI is “how does Continuous Integration work?” To put it simply, there is a repository with shared access that contains a certain code. Those developers with access to the repository can take this code to their personal working spaces and manipulate it. When they are done, this code is returned to the repository to adopt changes.

Continuous Integration technologies then run automated tests to see whether this updated code works well and does not interfere with other software. In case there are errors, the program pinpoints them automatically, making it easier to fix the code. As this process is repeated a number of times every day, the system works with new code all the time, testing and improving. After the code is fully updated and tested, it can be released manually or delegated to a DevOps team to automate further steps.

Why Is CI Important?

Continuous Integration was adopted to solve certain issues that might arise during software development. When multiple developers work on a single code, even if there are not many of them, it is necessary to coordinate every update to the final code manually. This concerns not only development teams but all other units involved in creating a piece of software. The smallest changes have to be discussed and coordinated to implement updates and launch new features. This communication, which has to be done manually, requires additional time and costs to be put into development. The code is subsequently released after a long time, and it comes with more errors. CI provides automated solutions and allows developing teams to work on their own with more efficiency. All developers can work on their tasks simultaneously without relying on others.

Key Advantages of Continuous Integration

The process of CI actually has numerous benefits for developers, but we will look at some of the main advantages.

1.     Implementing smaller changes –— Continuous Integration allows adding smaller chunks of updated code into a repository to test them immediately and locate potential errors before adding to them. Bigger volumes of code take more time to process and fix all the issues that might occur one after another. Because the code is tested automatically, there is no issue with adding smaller pieces of code many times a day and saving yourself from trouble.

2.     Isolating faults — with such a system, it is possible to limit the scope of errors and bugs when they occur in the code. This reduces any potential damage to the system and allows handling errors much easier. Isolating bugs is crucial to prevent great damage while these errors are being taken care of.

3.     Testing reliability — the Continuous Integration process increases the reliability of tests by evaluating smaller volumes of code frequently. Thanks to continuous testing, the high quality of code remains unchanged, which also contributes to the quality of the final product.

4.     Quicker releases — thanks to quick detection of bugs and, as a result, fixing them quicker as well, the overall release date for the finished product also becomes closer. However, the system needs to be moving all the time, and all developers need to contribute by delivering updated code multiple times throughout the day to achieve faster releases.

5.     Client satisfaction — this approach to working with the code actually influences the level of customer satisfaction received after using your product. CI allows delivering quick software updates and bug fixes, as well as keeping up with the releases of newer versions of operating systems. A constantly updated and improved product enhances the customer experience.

Apart from these main benefits of Continuous Integration, this approach also helps with reducing costs spent on development, increasing transparency within the developing team, implementing easy maintenance, and more.

Choosing the Best Continuous Integration Solutions

When considering implementing the CI practice for your project, it is important to select appropriate tools. Some of the best solutions for Continuous Integration are CircleCI, Jenkins, TeamCity, GitLab, etc. There are actually dozens of great solutions designed for CI, but the ultimate pick should depend on the following criteria:

  • Your personal requirements
  • Technology stack at your disposal
  • Specifics of your day-to-day workflow

Next, choosing the type of your server is required. There are two options: a self-hosted server or a hosting service provided by someone else. Hosted servers are convenient in the sense that you will be able to focus on your product without maintaining the server. Such services can be a little limiting, but they compensate at their convenience. Self-hosted servers provide a much higher level of security. They also allow for more flexibility, which can be important depending on the project. Both options are widely used because of their advantages for every separate software development project.


Continuous Integration enables scalability of engineering teams, codebases, and overall infrastructure. By reducing the bureaucracy that goes with code integration, CI helps with creating an efficient workflow. Every developer can work on their tasks with the code separately and even remotely from home without worrying about integrating it in the whole software as automated tools of Continuous Integration will take care of that and implement every new or updated piece of code smoothly.In case you want to implement the DevOps approach and benefit from it to the fullest, the CI method is a must. With CI, your engineering teams will operate at the top efficiency. By investing in a powerful Continuous Integration pipeline, you are investing in the efficiency of your entire project and company. If you are wondering when to use Continuous Integration, the answer is “now.”



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