Use continuous delivery
Continuous delivery helps you implement changes like new features into production quickly and safely.
Using continuous delivery has multiple benefits.
Iterate code frequently
It’s cheaper and easier to deliver small changes to production, meaning you can get feedback from users quickly.
Frequent small changes make it easier to diagnose problems, and the cost of fixing them is much lower than with large releases.
Quality software builds
Automated test suites allow you to quickly identify regressions in your software. This means you can focus on exploratory, usability, performance and security testing.
Building and releasing software in small pieces helps you focus on writing small composable bits of code. This means your code is easier to maintain and update.
To achieve continuous delivery you need:
- frequent integration to the main branch
- automatic build promotion
- production monitoring
Frequent integration to the main branch
We generally use Pull Requests for our development processes. Long-lived branches mean a longer wait time to see changes in production, and a greater risk of merge conflicts. You should aim to have small Pull Requests, so that they are easier to review and can be merged more quickly. You should aim for your feature branches to live for only a day or two before getting merged. If a branch lasts longer than this, you could ask for help, or consider a different approach to the problem.
You can use approaches like feature-flagging or modular architectures to deploy partially complete features. This reduces the size of changes going to production and encourages your team to build modular, configurable systems.
Automatic build promotion
You can quickly distinguish between good and bad builds with automatic build promotion. By deploying builds that have to pass multiple test jobs downstream of the initial build process you can get quicker feedback if the build fails.
Use production monitoring and alerting
You can understand the effect of your changes on production using production monitoring and alerting. Monitoring essential parts of your system allows you to see if changes have any unintended impacts and to respond quickly in case of problems.
Find out more about continuous delivery from:
- Architecting for Continuous Delivery - Jez Humble at Agile India 2016 (video)
- 2023 State of DevOps Report - see where you are and how to get to the next stage
- Accelerate: The Science of Lean Software and Devops: Building and Scaling High Performing Technology Organizations - by Nicole Forsgren Jez Humble Gene Kim
- Trunk Based Development - a source control branching method