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Top 8 Continuous Integration Tools

Vladimir Pecanac provides an excellent overview of the top 8 continuous integration tools your organization should be considering, if C/I is in your future.

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One of the requirements for the implementation of the Continuous Integration is the utilization of the Continuous Integration tools a.k.a build servers. While there are many Continuous Integration tools out there, there are some that are more widely used. Choosing the right CI tool for your purposes can be a bit bothersome, especially if you want to start using them for the first time, so I hope this list will provide you with the quick and easy preview of the features and possibilities of some of the most used continuous integration tools on the market.

So without further ado and in no particular order of importance, I present to you the list of the top 8 Continuous Integration tools:


jenkins logo

Jenkins is an open source CI tool written in Java. It originated as the fork of Hudson when the Oracle bought Sun Microsystems. Jenkins is cross-platform tool and it offers configuration both through GUI interface and console commands. What makes Jenkins very flexible is the feature extension through plugins. The Jenkins plugin list is very comprehensive and you can easily add your own. Besides extensibility, Jenkins prides itself on distributing builds and test loads on multiple machines. It is published under MIT license so it is free to use and distribute.

Official website: Jenkins
Availability: Free
Platform: Cross-platform


TeamCity logo

TeamCity is a mature CI server, coming from the labs of JetBrains. JetBrains has established authority in the software development world, and their tools like WebStorm and Resharper are used by developers worldwide. TeamCity offers all the features in its free version, but it is limited to 20 configurations and 3 build agents. Additional build agents and build configurations costs can be found here. Out of the box, TeamCity has the support for wide variety of tools and frameworks and since it supports many .NET features out of the box it might be best suited for your .NET project. Despite being Java based solution, TeamCity offers the best .NET support among the tools on this list. It also has a wide variety of publicly available plugins, developed both by JetBrains and third parties.

Official website: TeamCity
Availability: Free and paid
Platform: Servlet container

Travis CI

TravisCI logo

Travis is an open source service free for all open source projects hosted on the GitHub. Since it is hosted, it does not depend on any platform. It is configured using .travis.yml files which contain the information to do. It supports a variety of different languages and the build configuration for each of them is well documented. Travis uses the virtual machines to build applications. If you have a private repository or you need to run more than one job concurrently, there are various monthly subscriptions plans.

Official website: Travis CI
Availability: Free and paid
Platform: Hosted


go cd logo

Go is the newest Cruise Control incarnation from ThoughtWorks. Excluding the commercial support that ThoughtWorks offers, Go is free of charge. It is available for Windows, Mac, and various Linux distributions. What makes Go stand out from the crowd is the concept of pipelines which makes the modeling of the complex build workflows easy. On the pipeline concept, how it can help with Continuous Delivery and how it compares to Jenkins pipelines you can read here. It is designed from the scratch to support pipelines and eliminate build process bottlenecks with the parallel execution of the tasks.

Official website: Go CD
Availability: Free with paid support
Platform: Windows, Linux, Mac


bamboo logo

Atlassian is the company focused on providing tools for software development teams, and you might know them by their tools like JIRA and Bitbucket. Bamboo is Atlassian’s CI tool that comes in two separate versions. The cloud and the server. If you decide to go for the cloud version of Bamboo, Atlassian will host the Bamboo for you and you will need the Amazon EC2 account. If the server is your preferred choice, you will host your own instance of the Bamboo server. Both versions come with the free trials and the pricing plans are based on the build agent count rather than the users. Being the Atlassian tool, it has native support for JIRA and BitBucket, and you can even import your Jenkins configurations into Bamboo easily.

Official website: Bamboo
Availability: Paid with free trial
Platform: Servlet container or hosted

GitLab CI

gitlab logo

GitLab CI is an integral part of the open source Rails project GitLab, which was brought to light by the company GitLab inc. GitLab is hosted on GitLab.com, a free hosted service, and it provides detailed git repository management with features like access control, issue tracking, code reviews, and many more. GitLab CI is fully integrated with GitLab and it can easily hook projects using the GitLab API. GitLab process builds are written in the Go language and can run on Windows, Linux, OSX, FreeBSD, and Docker. The official Go runner can run multiple jobs concurrently and has inbuilt Docker support. GitLab CI comes with both the open source GitLab Community Edition, and with the GitLab Enterprise Edition which comes with a 45 day money back guarantee.

Official website: GitLab CI
Availability: Free and paid with trial
Platform: Hosted


circleci logo

Another hosted alternative that comes from the company of the same name. CircleCI currently only supports GitHub and the list of supported languages includes Java, Ruby/Rails, Python, Node.js, PHP, Haskell, and Skala. What separates CircleCI from the other tools is the way they offer services. The main pricing block for CircleCI is the “container”. One container is free and you can build as many projects on it as you need. Once you start adding more containers (at a fixed price each) you can choose the level of parallelization that suits your needs. There are 5 levels of parallelization (1x, 4x, 8x, 12x and 16x). So, starting with the 16 containers, you can achieve maximum parallelization of 16x on one build. Or you can run 4 builds on 16 containers with 4x parallelization. It is up to you. And did I mention that CircleCI supports Docker?

Official website: CircleCI
Availability: Free and paid with trial
Platform: Hosted


codeship logo

If you haven’t had enough hosted solutions up until now, here is another one. Codeship relies on GitHub and Bitbucket and provides a dose of test parallelization with the ParallelCI feature. It supports Java, PHP, Ruby (Rails), Node.js, Python, and Go, and you can deploy your projects on the services like AWS or Heroku. The trial includes one concurrent build and one parallel test pipeline, and is limited to 100 builds per month and 5 projects. The pricing comes in several upgrading packages with the option of adding the docker platform for the additional cost of $75 monthly. There is also a custom plan where you can fully customize parameters that suit your team the best.

Official website: Codeship
Availability: Free and paid
Platform: Hosted

So, what is the perfect Continuous Integration tool for you and your team?

Unfortunately, the answer to this question you must find out by yourself. If you wish for more control over the build process and the possibility to tinker with the tiniest of the details, you will choose one of the self-hosted continuous integration tools from this list. If you opt in for the hosted solution, you get easier maintenance and scalability, but for now hosted solutions cannot provide as much flexibility as their self-hosted counterparts.

Continuous Integration tools improved a lot since they first appeared. With the current trends of migrating solutions to the cloud, many companies started offering hosted solutions, that are user-friendly and easier to digest than traditional tools. You can see on the graph below that cloud solutions started appearing not that long ago, and that overall popularity and the interest in these tools raises every year since.

Image title

Travis CI is the pioneer in this field of cloud Continuous Integration tools and is leading the way in popularity still. CircleCI seems to have gained some traction in the recent months and is climbing its way up. I strongly believe that hosted continuous integration tools are the future of continuous integration and I am very curious and excited to see how far they will go and if they could one day stand toe to toe with the “big” players like Jenkins or TeamCity. I don’t think the self-hosted tools will become obsolete any time soon, but the balance of power is about to change in the favor of hosted solutions.

Being well established in the community, open source and very flexible, Jenkins is still a great way to start Continuous Integration journey because there is rarely something you cannot do with it. Many people use it with a great success and it meets their needs. Once you figure out what the possibilities of the Continuous Integration tools are and how to optimize your processes, even more, you can try some of the other tools.

Which CI tool you prefer using the most? Is it on this list and if not what is it that makes you want to use it? Please share your thoughts in the comment section below and feel free to set me straight if I missed something important.

Reached this far? You should follow me on G+. I post updates there regularly.

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integration,jenkins,bamboo,teamcity,travis ci,gitlab,circleci,codeship

Published at DZone with permission of Vladimir Pecanac, DZone MVB. See the original article here.

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