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Most Common Continuous Integration Testing Strategies for Mobile Apps

A well-structured Continuous Delivery pipeline, supported by a mobile testing lab, fosters rapid feedback and iteration loops, enabling teams to expedite the release of higher-quality code. In essence, the aim is to swiftly and regularly place builds in the hands of both the team and testers.

As a crucial component of the mobile app development process, this involves consistently building and uploading a testable app binary to a distribution platform, facilitating the easy downloading and utilization of the build by multiple testers.

What is CI/CD?

CI/CD is an automation tool that streamlines laborious processes, from app construction to its deployment, significantly simplifying developers’ lives. Various CI/CD solutions are accessible for applications, websites, and Machine Learning/Artificial Intelligence.

The term CI denotes Continuous Integration, while CD can refer to either Continuous Delivery or Continuous Deployment. Let’s delve into these concepts further.

Continuous Integration

Continuous Integration, or CI, is a widely accepted practice in custom mobile app development where frequent integration of code changes occurs in a shared code repository. Typically, this practice involves committing small changes regularly instead of infrequently committing significant changes. During the standard development process, developers work on different features in separate branches and merge their work into the main branch through Pull Requests (PRs).

They manually assess each commit, create builds, and run tests, which can be time-consuming. Continuous Integration for mobile apps automates these processes, initiating a pipeline upon a commit or PR and building and testing the app to identify defects and ensure code quality. By enabling swift feedback and defect resolution before production, CI enhances software quality and promotes efficient team collaboration.

Continuous Delivery

Continuous Delivery (CD) automates transferring CI-approved builds to staging after merging code into the central branch. In this phase, performance, security, acceptance, and smoke tests are conducted within production-like environments to ensure thorough evaluation.

Continuous delivery of mobile apps helps mitigate deployment risks by subjecting functional code to comprehensive testing and review in real-world settings. It enables the regular delivery of integrated code to production, resulting in readily deployable builds prepared for release in a single click.

A standard continuous delivery process for mobile apps involves the following stages:

  • Code Retrieval and Compilation: Fetching the most recent code from the designated version control branch and initiating a build process
  • Environment Setup and Deployment: Tailoring the code to suit production-like environments and deploying it accordingly
  • Supplementary Automated Testing: Conducting additional automated assessments, including UI and performance tests, to ensure a comprehensive evaluation
  • Final Build and Test Pipeline: Depending on the team’s configuration, another cycle of build and testing may take place on the main branch.

Business Advantages of CI/CD Implementation in Mobile Apps

The integration of CI/CD not only streamlines the app development process but also enhances operational efficiency, code quality, and business outcomes. Let’s examine these benefits in detail:

●     Accelerated Feedback Loop

The absence of feedback regarding the impact of changes and the quality of work can significantly slow down the software development process. CI/CD for mobile apps addresses this challenge by promptly identifying issues in commits, enabling a better understanding of changes in the code, and facilitating quick problem resolution.

●     Enhanced Visibility and Transparency

With an established CI/CD pipeline, teams gain insights into the status of builds and receive up-to-date test results. This increased transparency allows for informed work planning and a clear understanding of which changes disrupt the building more frequently, promoting efficient development practices.

●     Mitigation of Integration Challenges

Viewing software development as a collection of individual components that need to come together seamlessly, CI/CD ensures smooth integration of various app elements. By facilitating seamless integration, it reduces friction, ensuring that each piece fits well into the larger software framework, thus promoting a cohesive development process.

●     Early Detection and Resolution of Issues

Bugs are an inevitable part of the software development lifecycle. CI/CD’s automated testing capabilities enable the prompt identification and resolution of issues as soon as they arise, preventing the accumulation of complex and hard-to-manage problems at later stages.

●     Enhanced Testability and Code Quality

The ease of testing directly correlates with the ability to ensure code quality. An app’s testability is improved by the availability of new builds, the functionality of testing tools, and the control over test environments. By promoting easy access to testing and providing robust testing environments, CI/CD facilitates the creation of robust, high-quality software.

Strategies for Implementing Continuous Delivery in Mobile App Development

If you’re considering implementing Continuous Delivery (CD) within your mobile app team or enhancing your existing CD setup, consider the following best practices to optimize your CD pipeline:

●     Initiate with Continuous Integration (CI)

CI is a crucial precursor to CD, ensuring that your builds are error-free and functional before distributing a binary. By integrating CI with CD, you can generate and distribute a binary with increased confidence, establishing a robust foundation for the CD process.

●     Establish a Regular Cadence

Modern development practices emphasize the importance of frequently distributing testing builds. Teams now often distribute testing builds multiple times per week, daily, or even on a per-integration basis. Cloud-based CI and CD tools have simplified the process, enabling teams to establish a more frequent distribution cadence.

●     Automate Whenever Possible

Employ automation tools for testing, build generation, provisioning, signing, deployment, and monitoring. Numerous open-source options are available, such as LambdaTest, to streamline and automate various aspects of the development and release process.

LambdaTest is a cloud-based, AI-powered test orchestration and execution platform that integrates with CI/CD pipelines and enables seamless testing across a comprehensive array of over 3000+ browser and operating system combinations.

With LambdaTest, developers and testers can efficiently evaluate their mobile and web applications, ensuring optimal performance and compatibility across various devices and platforms. By leveraging LambdaTest’s capabilities, teams can streamline their testing processes, identify and resolve issues early on, and deliver high-quality mobile apps to their users.

●     Monitor Stability and Performance

Utilize effective tools to measure the stability and performance of your app, enabling the early detection and resolution of issues. By comparing these metrics against predefined acceptable baselines, you can maintain a clear understanding of what constitutes a successful build or release.

●     Facilitate Tester Communication

Open communication between testers and developers is crucial for a robust CD strategy. Providing clear and concise beta testing notes and ensuring a seamless onboarding process can significantly enhance the tester experience, facilitating valuable feedback.

●     Act on Tester Feedback

Valuable insights often stem from early testers. Create a streamlined process for collecting and incorporating tester feedback, enabling you to address issues and implement improvements effectively.

●     Prioritize Consistency

Maintain a consistent and reliable CD pipeline to ensure a seamless and reliable feedback loop. Disruptions to the CD pipeline can hamper the iterative development process and delay improvements to the app, undermining the benefits of a well-established CD system.

Impact of CI/CD on time savings in mobile app development

Integration of CI/CD within mobile app development can optimize development schedules. Typically, developers can save approximately 20% of the development time compared to conventional methods. This efficient workflow accelerates automated testing, continuous integration, and deployment, leading to more effective iteration cycles.

Conclusion

The abundance of comprehensive and often cost-free app distribution platforms underscores the importance of integrating robust distribution practices into your mobile development workflow and fully embracing Continuous Delivery. Implementing a reliable CD system can effectively shorten and streamline the feedback loops within your app’s development and release cycles.

Consequently, your team can expedite the identification and resolution of bugs, enabling quicker iterations based on user feedback. Whether initiating your CD journey or reinforcing an existing process, adhering to the abovementioned best practices will help you maximize the available benefits. Your team’s efficiency and your end-users experience will undoubtedly reflect the positive impact of these efforts.

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