What exactly is the continuous delivery pipeline, and how is it useful?

Deploying builds quickly is an absolute must if you’re going to keep the customer happy, but not if that speed comes at the expense of accuracy or quality. This is where software development becomes a bit of a balancing act – and one that officially becomes tricker as the project grows.

Cautious project managers may be tempted to delay each release just to make sure everything’s correct, but this would be a mistake.

The longer you wait before each release, the bigger the pressure to get it right. If there is an issue, the dev team will have to trawl through so much more code to find and fix the problem, which is never a fun place to be.

This is where automation and the continuous delivery pipeline comes in handy. Let’s dive in.

What is the continuous delivery pipeline?

The continuous delivery pipeline (or CI/CD pipeline) forms the backbone of modern DevOps. It refers to a process in which certain key steps in the software delivery process are automated. The ultimate goal is to speed things up and reduce errors.

It takes its bearings from other agile software development best practices, including build automation, version control, and automated deployments. Projects progress in small iterations and feedback (from other developers, teams, and stakeholders) is continual.

Continuous integration is the first stage, followed by continuous delivery and then, finally, continuous deployment. Together, these make up the pipeline.

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The pipeline has software that automatically accepts or rejects code. An alert is generated – via email, chat app, or project management software – to let the developers know when there’s been a rejection.

The only other notifications tend to be sent to the whole team after each successful deployment or update, which means fewer emails flying around. Meanwhile, having a pre-defined set of parameters in place takes some of the burdens off developers and helps ensure consistency.

What are the benefits of the continuous delivery pipeline? Automated releases remove the need for time-consuming and error-prone tasks. Before code is merged, it needs to pass a CI test that ensures new features match the specifications. This prevents errors and regressions. It also helps new team members join in faster because they don’t need to learn complicated development tests. It provides greater insight into a design’s metrics, including engagement rates, time spent between each design phase, bug encounter rates, and new feature release frequencies. Team members are more confident because they know their code is guaranteed to integrate seamlessly with the rest of the build. Changes can be made and measured quickly, while bugs can be fixed quickly and cheaply because the amount of code to go through is that much smaller. The phases of the continuous delivery pipeline explained

Every pipeline is a little different, so there are no hard and fast rules here. But as a general guide, the following stages apply to most projects.

Build and component testing

This is where the software is built. Code is reviewed before going into a source-code repository. The components – the smallest testable unit – are continually tested. The software is then built and archived, while the artifact is stored in an artifact repository.

Staging/subsystem phase

Subsystems are small, deployable units, such as a server or container. They can be deployed into a staging

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