Continuous integration (CI) and continuous delivery (CD) is crucial in every software development project and you can realize the benefits of CI/CD in mobile app projects immensely.
This article is the second in our CI/CD article series, where we answer the following questions:
- What is CI/CD and why do you need CI/CD in mobile app projects?
- What are the operational and business benefits of CI/CD? (This article)
- How does Appcircle solve the common problems in mobile app lifecycle?
In our previous article, we mentioned why you need mobile CI/CD from a technical perspective, and now, we will be talking about the full benefits of CI/CD.
1. Higher productivity/lower costs
First and foremost, CI/CD enables higher productivity with automation. Just like in manufacturing industry, you can automate the repeating assembly process (application builds) with automated workers, which enables the developers to focus on the value-added design and development processes.
By automating the application build and release processes, a development team can minimize the manual operations, which amounts to a significant productivity increase/savings of 20%. What’s more is that this 20% can be utilized with higher value operations, so from the opportunity cost perspective, the gains are even higher.
2. Faster release cycles
Mobile app build process is time consuming and, in many cases, compiling the app is required for proper testing.
When this process is managed manually, the build process gets deferred with “let me just another line of code”. In such a case, large chunks of code get pushed, which makes it harder to test and harder to isolate if there are any issues.
With CI/CD, developers get used to push even the smallest of code changes as they will be built and delivered automatically in the background. This automated flow ensures that there is always an alpha or beta release version ready for testing with the latest code.
3. Faster feedback/response with “continuous integration”
With faster release cycles with smaller changes, it becomes possible to pinpoint the exact source of error when an issue identified. This is especially important in larger teams where code conflicts may cause significant issues.
Just as the name implies, the code is integrated continuously without any manual handoff, making sure that all pieces fit perfectly and identify any unfit pieces to be reworked before it is too late.
4. Increased coding discipline with pull request builds and automated tests
With the pull request commit builds even before the merge, followed by automated unit testing and code reviews after every push; the code itself is inspected more thoroughly before it is a part of the release.
The developers get faster feedback on their code and facilitates improvement while increasing attention to quality.
5. Early warnings and higher testing volume with “continuous deployment”
With every single change being tested with a number of testing workflow steps, the issues can be identified faster.
Just as the name implies, the code is deployed continuously without any manual handoff, enabling faster and higher volume deployments, thus higher volume of testing is achieved, whether manual or automated. The pinpointing of the issues are facilitated with every release being matched with commit IDs and delivered to the testers with this information so that even the smallest changes can be tracked across releases.
6. Better visibility of coding and delivery performance
Full visibility with notifications, alerts, logs and reports is an indispensable part of a well-established CI/CD flow. Even though everything is automated, there is a much better visibility of the system than manual operations.
With so much data previously hidden within the manual handoffs, now visible; new opportunities for improvement can be realized in all stages. CI/CD enables better visibility and better visibility enables “continuous improvement”.
For instance, overall failure rates of the whole process can be viewed from a single point and individual failure rates can be identified to see if there is a general issue or there are specific points where the failures pile up.
7. Increased accountability
The data obtained with CI/CD is like an x-ray of the full app lifecycle and this high level of transparency fosters accountability. The performance of the individual team members and the performance of the teams can easily be observed, reducing the friction between the stakeholders.
This is highly beneficial not just for the development teams, but also for the management teams. The responsibilities are much clearer, and the management is better-informed about every step of the process. The app lifecycle no longer a black box for external viewers.
8. Isolation from the complexities of application delivery
Each development discipline has its own set of complexities and the mobile apps are no exception. iOS and Android have totally independent and different processes of building, signing, distributing and installing apps.
These mandatory processes require a very specific knowledge of mobile technologies while being time and resource consuming, which can be better spent in more value-added tasks.
9. Easier maintenance
This item is applicable if you opt in for a full-featured CI/CD suite, where the platform is fully managed, eliminating the need for you to track component or agent updates for things like accessing Xcode betas or changes in the processes for things like the AAB file support in Android.
The developers can focus on their core tasks and let the CI/CD platform handle all the maintenance operations to deliver apps up to date with the latest specifications.
10. Higher quality and faster delivery with the best practices
The last but not the least is that, with better visibility, faster feedback and less human intervention combined with the CI/CD best practices and standardization; the application quality increases, and it becomes less prone to errors.
Moreover, with the faster time-to-market, any issues can be fixed quickly, and any new features can be delivered just when they are needed.
We just provided the full picture on why mobile CI/CD is crucial and now it is time to realize these benefits.