Thursday, December 14, 2017

CI & CD - Exist to solve the engineering problems for first than to solve for customers

I read a tweet post of Michael Bolton. What made me to share my opinion as a blog post is, I hear CI and CD associated with Software Testing quite often; especially in the software testing conferences.

Here is what Michael Bolton asks on Twitter:

Your CI/CD system is probably pretty good at helping you discover problems in the build process. How does it support the discovery of problems in the product that would matter to customer, the team, or the business? Note - there CAN be really good answers to this. #DevOps #testing

The CI and CD is not associated just with Software Testing, but it is integral part of Software Engineering and Development.  In 2006, I have seen CI and CD. In 2017, I see CI and CD. The change is, how we are building software today, when compared to 10 years ago.  The CI and CD has taken upper hand for how we architecture, design and work in building software, before putting it to release line for market.

I want to say this -- "We seeing or associating CI and CD with testing is okay but it is not all about the testing. It is about the engineering and testing is one part of engineering." I see this emphasis is missed in the conferences when they quote CI and CD and tag a word testing with it, especially with automation context.  Note that, when I use word "automation" here, it is not the automation part of testing deliveries, it is the automation part of the engineering pipelines as well.  Yes, the *pipelines* of technology and engineering stack.

We have multiple pipelines in the engineering and from different engineering teams which may span over different geo locations and work culture.  With this, I say, for first CI and CD has to deliver and serve the engineering teams and also the teams which work with engineering team, before serving the market customer or business. If it is not serving here, then that CI and CD has a fundamental problem that needs to be addressed.

Before thinking of Testing as a focusable space in engineering and shippable product to customer, the testing can be seen in strong form and it is "Unit Testing" while product is being developed. Plus the integration of different pipelines outcome while the Unit Testing is executed or being executed or about to be executed, as the code get pushed. This summation of different pipelines integration constitutes a picture of product which gets shipped to customer, one day very soon.  Note that, this product is not yet available to customer in market, while it may be available to different stakeholders within the engineering team and teams associated to it. We need it to vision our work, vision our product and vision my testing for the product.

The CI and CD do not remove any problems nor add problems.  If not handled CI and CD, the problem can get disguised and may ship to market.  For example, did you see a force update of software you use?  The CI and CD, waits and look forward the human's push so it can do its job and give back to Build Engineer or any other engineer.

Testers, do not get panicked about how the word CI and CD is used with Software Testing and automation. The CI and CD is beyond this and it starts with the integration of different engineering technology stack pipelines outcome as one output and the unit tests.  

I don't know how true is this, I heard from my friends years back that Amazon builds for every 11 seconds. Could be and I'm not surprised with it. You see the CI and CD here? The compiled build or deployment does not mean, shipped.  It is the gateway for unit test run and integration of different pipelines.

The coverage and testability offered by CI and CD can vary based on how it is used. It is just like this -- if you noticed a tailor marking the textile to stitch a shirt; the measure of the marking again; cut it on the marks; tie it and give a number; the other tailor picks it and thread it; then pass it to other tailor to add and do necessary stuff before it is put to shirt hanger or cover for handing it to showroom or customer.  What the tailors did it here is the CI and CD. In large manufacturing, these tailors can sit in different places and can work in different time.  Where is the testing here? You answer it! How this CI and CD of tailors help customer to wear a comfortable shirt? You answer it!

Now, just think how many of these tests are technical tests facing tailoring skills and those tests which are facing the customer in the market on having a wearable shirt.

For the teams within engineering, when we have practices that benefits engineering to build better product, then CI and CD is of help.  Because with such engineering practices, the problems in integration of product and building it, can be identified earlier.  This can be identified if we have such Unit Tests written or built; else, it won't.

The CI and CD does not mean no bugs; but helps in identifying sort of bug(s) earlier in the engineering cycle.  These tests are more towards the technology and tech stack facing than facing the customer in the market.  But that does not mean we cannot have tests for customer facing in CI & CD.  This customer facing tests comes when we have the build which can be used by different types of users, stakeholders and testers in business team.  Example of tech facing tests, a MVP (Model View Presenter) not having defined logic container/controller association to pass the information to the viewer; this can be figured out if there is one such unit tests upon integration.  This bug may not be visible in UI if the contract of client and server partially satisfies; it may be seen when looked below the UI while doing the customer facing tests.

For me, be it tech facing or customer facing, test is a test. When tests can reveal product information earlier, why not to tap on it, if that can be achieved using the capabilities of the CI & CD ?

Providing the build having technology facing tests to business teams or SMEs, may not get that powerful feedback always to engineering team in initial stages of development. I have witnessed such outcomes when said about UI is not right, alignment is not right, keep it bold, keep it in lower font size., etc.  Though these are useful feedback, when it is being received is the point here.

To end this post, the CI and CD is first to address the internal engineering problems and assist in having effective engineering, before solving problems to the customer or business.  CI & CD is C[I+D] before seeing a product and problems it can have.

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