A continuous integration server (sometimes known as a build server) essentially manages the shared repository and acts as a referee for the code coming in. When developers commit to the repository, the CI server initiates a build and documents the results of the build. Typically, the developer that committed the code change to the repository will receive an email notification with the results.
The majority of teams building software today are practicing continuous integration. Of those teams practicing continuous integration, most rely on a CI server to automate builds.
For teams that do not use a CI server, they’re still able to achieve continuous integration through periodic builds they manage internally. Teams can use scripts they build themselves or manually trigger builds. Continuous integration isn’t a tool in iself, it’s a larger framework with a set of practices aided by certain tools.
For teams that want to practice continuous integration, there are some helpful tools that can make continuous integration easier. For teams that bypass using a CI server, it’s about having more control over the source code, testing, and commit processes.
Teams find CI servers useful in software development because it can offer certain process advantages.
The majority of tools we consider continuous integration tools are, in fact, CI servers. Some include additional functionality, such as source code management, continuous delivery, and testing.
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