Best Way to Manage Continuous Integration(CI) Testing in 2024

QASource Engineering Team
QASource Engineering Team | February 20, 2024

Best Way to Manage Continuous Integration(CI) Testing in 2024

If you could create a safety net to protect your product’s user experience, would you? Is it even possible to prevent the possibility of consumers discovering bugs and defects after deployment, all while maintaining speed to market?

With continuous integration QA, your team can get your product to market quicker without the risk of pushing destructive code into production. With a well-developed continuous integration process, your team can build necessary test components within every collaborative development cycle, removing delay and minimizing risk.

This guide aims to answer your most pressing questions about the continuous integration process, including:

  • What is Continuous Integration Testing?
  • Advantages of Continuous Integration Testing
  • Key Components of Continuous Integration Testing
  • The Process of Continuous Integration Testing
  • Best Practices for Continuous Integration Testing
  • Different Types of CI Tests
  • Challenges of Continuous Integration Testing
  • Recommended Continuous Integration Tools
  • How to Proactively Manage CI Testing
  • Continuous Integration Testing with QASource

What is Continuous Integration Testing?

Continuous integration is a software development practice that encourages regularly implementing code changes in a shared repository. The continuous integration process encourages small changes more often instead of committing significant changes intermittently. Developers typically use continuous integration tools to integrate code changes multiple times each day, triggering continuous integration QA testers to perform tests that identify if any bugs or defects arise from the updated code base.

What is continuous integration without continuous delivery? Continuous integration focuses on regularly updating and testing the code base; continuous delivery ensures that all code changes approved in the development and testing environments can easily be deployed to production. In other words, your team can quickly release your builds ready for market with one click.


Advantages of Continuous Integration Testing

Continuous integration (CI) testing offers a wide range of advantages for software development teams, improving efficiency, quality, and overall workflow and delivering a better product. Here are some of the key benefits:

  • Increase Your Testing Coverage: Testing most of your code base isn’t enough. A CI server can review your code base for test coverage, exposing which parts of the code still need testing. It’s a strong motivation for QA teams to write better test cases once they have complete visibility into test coverage.
  • Identify Integration Challenges Earlier: In many development cycles, testers have to wait weeks to test and discover defects within the code. Continuous integration teams have developers update code regularly, and testers use continuous integration tools to check the code routinely for issues, making it easier to identify the problem so developers can resolve it sooner. CI also prevents developers from building code on top of defective code.
  • Decrease Time Spent Reviewing Code: Continuous integration QA can be set up so that your CI and Version Control System communicate with each other and notify you when a merge request is approved—meaning all tests have passed and the code meets all requirements. The difference in code coverage can be reported from the merge request, effectively reducing the time needed to review a merge request.
  • Faster Feedback Loops: It’s difficult for developers to prioritize what code changes to make without receiving feedback on their previous code changes. Waiting too long to test the code can make it difficult to pinpoint where the issue lies in the code and who made those changes.

    Continuous integration combats this by allowing QA testers to provide developers feedback so they can resolve destructive code sooner.

  • Reduce Dev and QA Costs: Automating your QA process with continuous integration tools can reduce the number of errors that can take place during continuous integration QA testing. Teams can drastically improve code quality and increase ROI by following a solid test automation checklist during CI QA testing.
  • Ensure a Positive User Experience: With so much variety in the marketplace, consumers do not have to settle for your software application’s shortcomings. Fortunately, continuous integration is designed to deliver bug fixes and new features to your users faster. This continuously improved user experience leads to customer loyalty, positive reviews, and higher revenue.

Challenges of Continuous Integration Testing

An effective continuous integration process doesn’t happen overnight. To receive all the benefits of continuous integration QA, your team must have a plan on how to overcome these common challenges:

  • Extensive Planning: Because your team tests more often and for shorter intervals, QA must be factored into the overall development plan early and often and should be included when selecting the right continuous integration tools. A comprehensive strategy must be in place so everyone on the team understands each step of the new workflows and internal processes. While this takes time to deliver, you can expect time-saving results within your upcoming development cycles.
  • Resistance to Team Coordination: Continuous integration testing can initially seem to your developers like a series of interruptions to their workflow. Engineers accustomed to completing code tasks and then throwing a final product over the proverbial fence for final testing may often resist change. To overcome this hesitancy, consider explaining the benefits of the continuous integration model to your developers and QA engineers. For example, continuous integration QA provides greater transparency into your test environment, empowering developers with regular feedback QA testers with more insight for solving problems in testing.
  • Infrastructure Investments: A team can only scale with continuous integration when there’s a budget to provide the infrastructure needed to accelerate delivery and increase product quality. To receive internal buy-in on funding a CI infrastructure, present the benefits for the overall business to your key stakeholders, including the expected ROI and your game plan on how to get there.
  • Creating Reliable and Repeatable Workflows: Shifting your workflows to a continuous integration pipeline is not easy, especially for large-scale legacy projects. Changing one part of your workflow may impact several other processes across your team. Talking through these challenges with your internal experts across teams can help you devise solutions for creating reliable, repeatable CI workflows.
  • Data Overload: There’s no shortage of information in continuous integration QA. However, this influx of data can paralyze your team, making it difficult for them to sort through and act upon it. First, focus on the test analytics surrounding platform usage and test suite efficiency to understand which test cases detect the most defects. Secondly, analyze which tests constantly fail to overcome this challenge.

Key Components of Continuous Integration Testing

Continuous Integration (CI) testing combines automated testing with the CI pipeline, where code changes are constantly integrated and validated. This ensures frequent feedback on quality and functionality, improving software development overall. Here are the key components of successful CI testing:

    • Automation: Test Automation Frameworks like JUnit, Selenium, and Cucumber enable the efficient writing and running of automated tests.Tests are seamlessly integrated into the CI pipeline and automatically triggered after each code commit. The test coverage includes a mix of unit, integration, and end-to-end tests that should cover various aspects of the codebase.
    • Continuous Feedback: Fast execution and reporting ensure the tests run quickly, providing immediate feedback on potential issues. Clear and actionable reports should highlight failures, provide context, and guide developers toward solutions. With real-time visibility of dashboards and notifications, inform developers and stakeholders about real-time test results.
    • Quality Checks: The code quality tool uses static analysis tools to identify potential code issues and code before integration. Lint and formatting enforce a consistent coding style and avoid common pitfalls through automated checks. Security scans integrate security scans into the pipeline to identify potential vulnerabilities early.
    • Collaboration and Ownership: Clearly defined roles in the testing process. Where developers, testers, and other stakeholders understand their responsibilities in the CI testing process. A shared knowledge base, documentation, and platforms ensure everyone can access relevant information. Pair Programming and Code Reviews and collaborative practices to promote knowledge sharing and early feedback on code quality. Culture of accountability where everyone takes ownership of delivering high-quality software.
    • Scalability and Optimization: Modular test designs are designed to be independent, easily integrated, and removed as needed. Prioritizing the critical tests for faster feedback, avoiding information overload. With continuous improvement, regularly review and refine the CI testing process to optimize efficiency and effectiveness.

Additional Considerations

    • Infrastructure and Resources: Choose tools and practices that align with your infrastructure and available resources.
    • Change Management: Prepare and manage the transition to CI testing effectively, addressing potential concerns and resistance.
    • Metrics and Monitoring: Monitor key metrics like test coverage, execution time, and defect detection rate to assess progress and identify areas for improvement.

You can establish an efficient CI testing process by focusing on these key components. To promote high-quality software, streamline development, and enable collaboration within your team. Let's get some insight into how continuous integration testing is performed.


Process of Continuous Integration Testing

The process of Continuous Integration testing (CI testing) involves seamlessly integrating testing practices into your continuous integration pipeline. Here's a breakdown of the key steps. Continuous Integration Testing (CI Testing) affects a specific workflow that ensures continuous verification and quality assurance throughout the development cycle. Here's a breakdown of the key steps: The process of Continuous Integration Testing can be broken down into a few key steps:

  • Code Commit: A developer makes changes to the codebase and commits them to a version control system like Git.
  • Trigger Build: This action triggers the CI server, automatically initiating the build process.
  • Build and Compile Code: The CI server retrieves the latest code, compiles it into an executable form, and creates artifacts like packages or installers.
  • Run Unit Tests: Automated unit tests run against the compiled code, verifying the functionality of individual modules or functions.
  • Integration Tests: If unit tests pass, integration tests execute, checking how different components interact and function together.
  • Functional and Performance Tests: Depending on your pipeline, broader tests like functional and performance tests might run at this stage, assessing the overall user experience and system behavior under load.
  • Security Tests: Security tests (e.g., static analysis, vulnerability scans) can also be integrated, identifying potential security flaws early in the process.
  • Results and Reporting: All test results are consolidated and reported to developers, highlighting failures or regressions.
  • Review and Fix: Analyze the reports, fix any identified issues, and potentially re-run specific tests to confirm fixes.
  • Optional Deployment: Based on your CI/CD pipeline, successful builds with passing tests might automatically trigger deployment to testing environments or even production, following further manual reviews and approvals.

Points to Remember:

  • The specific tests and tools will vary depending on your project and team needs.
  • Continuous integration testing is an ongoing process, not a one-time event.
  • Continuously refine your CI pipeline to optimize testing effectiveness and efficiency.

By implementing CI testing, you can build a robust software development process, ensuring high-quality and secure products are delivered faster.


Recommended Continuous Integration Tools

There are dozens of automation offerings available across licensed and open-source solutions, each with unique features and capabilities. Because making the right choice is crucial to following CI best practices and overall building success, we recommend reviewing these continuous integration tools during your selection process.

  • Jenkins: As the oldest and most popular testing tool for CI, Jenkins offers active community support and a robust library of 1400+ plugins. This open-source tool is ideal if your code is hosted in-house and you want complete control over your CI environment through highly customizable workflows.
  • GitLab CI: This open-source tool is a well-known component of the Rails project because of its cross-compatibility features. GitLab CI integrates seamlessly with the GitLab atmosphere, and its services are aligned with Git repository management. This solution is ideal if your code is hosted on GitLab and you need an integrated Docker registry.
  • CircleCI: For powerful caching capabilities and highly customizable workflows, CircleCI delivers continuous integration features. This commercial solution is easy to set up and run and is able to send your results directly to Slack. CircleCI is ideal if your code is hosted on GitHub or Bitbucket and if you need inbuilt support for parallelism.
  • Wercker: By combining device configurations all together on a single platform, Wercker can handle complex bottlenecks. This open-source tool can execute indefinite builds and runs on its Docker-based platform. Wercker is known for its speed, accuracy, and the ability to trigger pipelines whenever new code is committed.
  • Bamboo: This open-source tool is a CI build server that performs automatic builds, tests, and releases all from one central hub. Bamboo can identify new branches into these technologies and automatically apply customization of both triggers and variables. This tool is ideal for those who need support across a variety of languages and technologies, as well as for integration with JIRA software and Bitbucket.

Different Types of CI Tests

Continuous integration (CI) has diverse testing in which various testing approaches work together to ensure the quality and security of your codebase. Here's a breakdown of the five key types of CI tests:

  • Unit Testing

    Focuses on individual units of code (functions, classes, modules). Fast and easy to write and maintain. Unit testing verifies the correctness of each unit in isolation. For example, test a function that calculates the factorial of a number.

  • Integration Testing

    This test defines how different units of code work together. Ensure seamless interaction between components. It's more complex than unit tests, but still relatively fast. For example, you are testing how a shopping cart component interacts with a payment gateway.

  • Functional Testing

    Functional testing verifies the system's overall functionality from a user's perspective. Test features and workflows as a whole. It may involve user interface (UI) testing and API testing. For example, you are testing the checkout process of an e-commerce website.

  • Performance Testing

    Evaluate the system's performance under load. Measure metrics like response time, throughput, and resource utilization. Help identify bottlenecks and ensure scalability. For example, you are testing a web application's performance under high-traffic conditions.

  • Security Testing

    Identify and address potential security vulnerabilities in the system. Include static code analysis, penetration testing, and vulnerability scanning. It is crucial for protecting sensitive data and preventing cyberattacks. For example, testing a web application for SQL injection vulnerabilities.

    Continuous testing is made feasible by the increased frequency of test runs in a continuous integration pipeline. It is wise to bring your initial set of tests into a continuous integration (CI) pipeline if you are just getting started or are still learning about CI and integrating test coverage.


How to Proactively Manage CI Testing

When you take full advantage of continuous integration, you can look forward to a quicker end-to-end workflow, more cohesive collaboration, quicker bug detection, and more straightforward fixes. Since you are iterating and integrating code frequently, you have a great deal of data to analyze and leverage for future changes to keep all team members on the same page.

So, how can you set up and manage CI for success?

  • Start early to develop efficient integration methods that will continue to improve with time
  • Automate testing procedures for robust iterations
  • Get everyone on the same page to maintain consistent updates
  • Plan to set up continuous delivery to shrink the gap between development and production

Engaging with an external QA partner immediately adds experience and knowledge to your team, so you will be ready to implement CI and CD without a hitch. Continuous integration's rapid iteration and evaluation cycles leave little time for test design, maintenance, and execution. The advantages are worth the challenge, but if not managed properly, the resulting bottleneck of test requirements can introduce delays within the release cycle.

A QA expert can relieve these burdens on your development team. More than just testers, our external team can guide you in selecting the right continuous integration automation tool and creating a coordinated workflow that eases the back and forth between development and testing.

Should you engage an offshore QA service, you can extend this workflow into a 24-hour operation, with engineers in distant time zones testing overnight and presenting your development team with comprehensive test reports each morning. Resource advantages are available that leverage the U.S. and offshore environments to produce savings that can reduce your QA costs by half.

Add that cost benefit to the fact that a QA expert can quickly scale up your testing capacity during peak times while providing dedicated insight into your specific technological domain, and you have the centerpiece of your continuous integration testing conversion in place.


Continuous Integration Testing with QASource

Explores the potential of Continuous Integration (CI) testing and partners with an external QA Service expert. QASource has a team of testers and engineers to enhance the workflow and promptly drive the product's quality with its expert QA services. Here are some key questions:

Some pointers to consider while selecting an external partner for implementing CI testing.

  • CI Testing is Not a One-Size-Fits-All Solution: The optimal approach will depend on your unique needs and resources.
  • Start Small and Iterate: It's often best to start with a simple CI setup and gradually add complexity as you gain experience.
  • Communication and Collaboration are Essential: Get buy-in from all stakeholders and ensure everyone understands the benefits and potential challenges of adopting CI testing.
  • Focus on Value, Not Just Metrics: Don't get bogged down in measuring everything. Focus on metrics that directly contribute to your development goals.

Benefits of Partnering with an External QA Service

  • Expertise: Leverage their specialized knowledge and experience in various testing methodologies and tools.
  • Scalability: Access a larger pool of testers to handle peak workloads or specific testing needs.
  • Cost-Effectiveness: Pay only for the needed services, avoiding the overhead costs of hiring full-time staff.
  • Objectivity: Gain fresh perspectives and insights to identify issues in internal testing.


Managing continuous integration (CI) testing effectively requires a balanced approach to testing and collaboration. By implementing the abovementioned strategies, you can build a robust CI pipeline that delivers high-quality software faster and more efficiently. Remember, continuous integration testing evaluates, adapts, and improves your process to unlock its full potential and empowers your team to deliver exceptional software. Leveraging QASource’s expertise to create a valuable resource for optimizing their CI testing processes and achieving better results.

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