How to Use Continuous Integration to Boost Your Mobile App Development

By Marie Jaksman / 21 February 2019

Continuous integration is a powerful technique that can speed up your mobile app development process. 

In a recent study, we found that continuous integration (CI) and continuous delivery (CD) saves mobile app teams up to 20% of their dev time. This 20% can be integral in streamlining efficiency and saving costs while developing your mobile app

Continuous integration (CI) is the software development practice of integrating code changes into a shared code repository on a regular basis. This activity helps you to ensure the high quality of the software and deliver healthy code to the end user faster. 

Continuous delivery (CD) is a process of continuously delivering integrated code, whether it's bug fixes or new features, to production.

The main benefits of continuous integration include:

  • Risk mitigation - Developers usually have separate parts of the code that they work on and eventually have to merge to the main repository. Integrating code several times a day helps to make sure that their line of code fits the code into the main repository.
  • Instant feedback - Tests allow you to get instant feedback on the code changes and fix the errors immediately.
  • Team communication - CI tools are providing you with the possibility to share the status of your pull requests, test results and builds to increase transparency in the team and speed up the development process.
  • Confidence - Continuous integration can boost your development confidence since it helps you to detect potential issues on time.

So, is CI/CD a magic tool that will fix everything by itself? Unfortunately, no. 

Responding to the information that’s coming from CI in a timely manner is crucial to maintain high standards of quality and avoid the costly scenario of releasing a crucial application with errors.

Let us show you how the (auto)magic is done and how using a CI/CD service can save you both time and money. 

# 1: Automated Builds

Code fast, and let machines build new versions even faster. Using cloud instead of workstation resources allows you to run the build process in the background so you can continue to work on something else. 

Mobile app development agency, UserADgents, reported that without a proper CI/CD solution implemented, developers spend 15 to 20 minutes to ship a single build.

On a normal day, they would run 10 to 30 builds. This means 10 hours of valuable work time were spent in a build queue each day. This delay slows the build process down significantly and decreases productivity. 

# 2: One-Time Setup

Setting up a proper CI/CD pipeline may take time. This includes configuring all the needed workflows and setting up all the integrations and features. Most of the modern CI/CDs work out of the box and require no further human contribution once set up. There are mobile CI/CD tools that promise to get your projects up and running in 4 clicks.

# 3: Improved Communication

One of the magic hacks of CI is improved communication among your team. QA specialist, team leads, managers as a whole need to be on the same page. 

A proper continuous integration system automatically notifies people about the changes from the rest of your team, sync status, and the latest available version of an app

Syncing Continuous Integration

By making small changes to the branch frequently, you get instant feedback whether your build passed or not. Solving code errors sooner than later will save you money, not to mention the public embarrassment and disappointment of (soon to be ex-) clients. 

# 4: Automatic Shipping

According to Savvy Apps, the most successful apps release 1 to 4 updates a month. Update frequency depends on user feedback, data, and team size. All the feature requests, improvements and bug fixes take development time. 

You shouldn’t, however, waste time on the deployment of your app to the Apple App Store or Google Play store

App Deployment to Google Play and Apple App Store

Continuous delivery will save you the hassle of deploying the app and delivers every new version of your app to the preferred app store automatically.

# 5: No Server Maintenance

Keeping all the servers updated can quickly turn into a costly headache. The key here is automation. A proper CI/CD tool for your mobile projects will take care of your build servers so you do not have to. Worrying about Xcode updates is a thing of the past. 

“Our architect was spending 1 to 2 hours on each new Xcode release to keep everything up to date,” said experts at UserADgents.

CI/CD Tools

On average, you will save up to three working days in a year by not having to deal with server hassle. 

Tools for Modern Developers

CI/CD tools are for next-generation mobile app developers who value fast results with minimal interference. 

However, CI/CD only makes sense if it works for your needs. 

In the end, the whole point of CI/CD is to get rid of the extra hassle and enjoy the coding fun. A good CI/CD is running in our development process background and notifies us only in time of failed builds. 

If you work hard and build iOS and Android apps from a single code-base, check out CI/CD for Flutter apps. Instead of spending time debugging the system, you can develop new features and satisfy customers.  

To find yourself the best CI/CD tool for your mobile projects, hire an experienced mobile app developer.

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