Continuous Integration Boosts Mobile App Development

By Darryl K. Taft  |  Posted 2013-04-08

Continuous Integration Boosts Mobile App Development

As Agile software development practices like continuous integration catch on in development shops, vendors are moving in to provide tooling and support to the developer community.

Continuous integration (CI) is the practice, in software engineering, of merging all developer workspaces with a shared mainline several times a day. It was first named and proposed as part of extreme programming (XP). Its main aim is to prevent integration problems.

For its part, Sauce Labs, a provider of cloud-based web application testing solutions for software developers, recently announced a partnership with Travis CI, a hosted continuous integration service for open source developers. The partnership enables Travis CI to offer continuous integration services in the cloud for Mac and iOS builds while providing integrated access to the Sauce Labs testing tools. As a result, these developers for Mac OS X and iOS apps can begin employing the same continuous integration practices already used for Linux in the Travis cloud that support Agile and rapid deployment methodologies.

With Travis CI connected to its mobile and web app test clouds, Sauce Labs has made it easier for its customers developing mobile applications to adopt the time- and money-saving Agile development best practices, like continuous integration, now so common in enterprise desktop application development.

“Travis partnered with Sauce Labs because they are a proven leader in web application testing,” said Josh Kalderimis, a core member of the Travis CI team, in a statement. “Furthermore, they have a fast, flexible Mac and iOS cloud. Access to the Sauce Labs infrastructure will dramatically accelerate the development cycles for our uses.”

Mobile apps are increasingly driving corporate strategy as the revenue they generate increases and consumers turn more and more to their smartphone for transactions. Retail revenue from mobile commerce has skyrocketed to an estimated $25 billion in 2012. During the same time, revenue from mobile apps was expected last year to double over the 2011 to pass $30 billion.

Despite the importance of mobile-friendly software, many enterprise development groups working on mobile web and native or hybrid apps for the Mac OS X and iOS platforms are still testing their work manually. Also, these groups have largely been unable to collaborate effectively, lacking sufficient tools that would support continuous integration. Giving mobile app developers access to better tools will save companies money on development and speeding delivery of better-performing software.

“With mobile increasingly driving development strategy, organizations are seeking ways to enable collaboration and speed the delivery of quality software,” said Steve Hazel, vice president of product at Sauce Labs, in a statement. “By partnering with Travis CI, we are helping to propel the Mac and iOS development community forward by leaps and bounds.”

Sauce Labs offers a suite of hosted mobile web and mobile application testing services in the cloud. Its Mac Cloud includes the newly released Appium on Sauce, a unique cloud-based, automated testing platform for both native iOS apps and mobile web hybrid apps, and a mobile test cloud for web browsers on the Mac OS X, iOS and Android environments.

In addition, Sauce Labs offers a cloud of browsers and platforms for automated and manual testing of web apps. The company’s Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) application is used by some of the largest consumer and enterprise brands. The Sauce testing cloud is already used to run approximately five million tests each month with that number continuing to grow.

Continuous Integration Boosts Mobile App Development

Meanwhile, SOASTA, a provider of cloud and mobile testing solutions, and CloudBees, a Java Platform as a Service (PaaS) provider, also announced a partnership around continuous integration. As part of the partnership the companies also announced the release of SOASTA’s new Jenkins open source plug-in that enables mobile app developers to build, test and instantly deploy applications in the cloud.

The new Jenkins plug-in is SOASTA’s first open source plug-in. It is an integrated solution to enable continuous integration for mobile development. Kohsuke Kawaguchi, CloudBees architect and creator of Jenkins, optimized the plug-in for Jenkins. It has also been tested and verified on the CloudBees Platform. With the new plug-in, mobile developers can shorten the test cycle and eliminate all manual tasks in the testing process. Developers can obtain the SOASTA plug-in directly from within Jenkins and can learn about it here.

"I appreciate SOASTA's open-sourcing their Jenkins plug-in and collaborating with the Jenkins community," Kawaguchi said in a statement. "SOASTA brings the product expertise and the Jenkins community brings their Jenkins expertise. When we collaborate, it's a win for everyone. We look forward to seeing more companies follow the same path." Users of the over 50,000 Jenkins implementations can immediately use the new Jenkins plug-in with SOASTA’s TouchTest to test apps they build and deploy on the CloudBees Platform.

With SOASTA’s Jenkins plug-in, mobile developers fully automate mobile functional testing, eliminating manual steps that can take from several minutes to many days to complete. The Jenkins plug-in automatically makes apps testable, wakes up and reboots devices, installs the app on them and runs SOASTA’s TouchTest-automated test cases. This adds mobile app functional tests to the automated build process, eliminating manual tests for regression and user experience, resulting in faster builds and time-to-market.

According to the Gartner Report Seven Best Practices for Optimizing Mobile Testing Efforts, "Mobile testing is significantly different from PC testing because of platform diversity, the ever-changing landscape of devices and the fact that some testing tools such as emulators don't offer the same level of test fidelity as a real device.”

“SOASTA and CloudBees offered something I’ve hoped for, but wasn’t sure anyone could deliver,” said Will Pannell, an enterprise software engineer with MediaAgility, in a statement. “After seeing a demo of the solution, I set up working prototype using SOASTA’s free product and the CloudBees Platform.  My client is now ready to roll out a fully-automated iOS and Android delivery framework.”

In a blog post about his experience, entitled “Evolving Toward Agile,” Pannell added: “The other offerings I discovered that support mobile functional testing had obvious shortcomings in one-way-or-another. SOASTA is the only one, to my knowledge, that can support development at enterprise scale.”

In the mobile testing market, the ability to quickly deploy frequent updates is crucial. Together, CloudBees and SOASTA enable mobile developers to leverage Continuous Cloud Delivery, a complete development, testing and deployment solution, to speed up the development cycle. With Continuous Cloud Delivery, developers are able to deploy updates instantly, as soon as the code has been tested and approved.

“SOASTA has been an innovative mobile partner with us,” said Andrew Lee, vice president of business development at CloudBees, in a statement. “Now developers can use one, integrated environment to quickly develop, perform on-device testing and instantly deploy updates.  We're taking Continuous Cloud Delivery and matching the pace of modern, mobile application development.”

“SOASTA is focused on helping enterprises deliver the highest quality user experience while keeping pace with rapid mobile app development,” said Tom Lounibos, CEO of SOASTA, in a statement. “CloudBees leads the charge in Continuous Cloud Delivery with the widely accepted Jenkins at the core.  Through working with the Jenkins Community and the CloudBees team, we are pleased to offer another ‘first’ – continuous mobile app testing in the cloud.”

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