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Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Getting Started with Continuous Integration

Imagine that you've just fixed a bug in your application's code and checked the fix into the project's source code repository. How much do you know now? If all you know is that the fix worked on your machine, you're playing with fire. If you've run the fix through a suite of integration tests and are confident that it didn't break anything else in the project's code, you're doing much better: your process is under control. But would you believe that you can do better than that? There are some teams that know that the new checkin passes the integration tests, that the tests cover the entire codebase, that the project's coding standards are being followed, and that there's no excessive duplication in code. And they know this after every checkin. Best of all, they know this without human intervention: a little icon in their system tray turns red if anything goes wrong, and stays happily green otherwise. At any time, they can visit a Web page on their local intranet to check up on the current state of the code.
The technique behind this seeming magic is called continuous integration, and it's not as difficult to set up as you might think. In this article I'll show you how the pieces fit together for a simple .NET continuous integration server that will help you monitor the quality of your own coding efforts in real time.

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