In a software development, quick and reliable feedback from automated testing is crucial. This allows teams to identify and address issues early, leading to higher quality software and faster release cycles. However, simply having automated tests isn't enough, we need a well-defined deployment strategy to integrate them seamlessly into the CI pipeline. Here are some key tips to effectively deploy automated tests in the CI pipeline:

Start Early, Even with One Test:
Don't wait until you have a vast, stable test suite. Begin thinking about CI implementation as soon as your first automated test is ready. You can leverage approval gates in CI until the deployment strategy is finalised.

Prioritise and Gradually Expand:
Focus on automating high-impact tests first, addressing critical functionalities before branching out to encompass broader areas. This prioritises immediate benefits while laying the groundwork for future test expansion as resources and time permit.

Choose the Right Versioning Strategy:
Select a versioning strategy aligned with your team. Here are some considerations:
  • Single Repository: If the tech stack is consistent across development and testing code, and a single team handles both, a single repository might suffice.
  • Separate Repository: For diverse microservices and frontend structures, a dedicated repository for end-to-end automation code can facilitate collaboration across teams.
Choosing the Right Deployment Stage:
Select the appropriate stage in your CI pipeline to deploy your tests. Common options include:
  • Pre-build: Run unit, integration, and contract tests after each pull request for quick feedback on the release's health.
  • Post-build: Execute functional, security, and performance tests after a successful build to ensure overall functionality.
  • Approval Gates: Utilise approval gates for test suites that don't require execution after every pull request, allowing for manual triggering when needed.
  • Dedicated Pipeline for Flaky Tests: Maintain a separate pipeline for flaky tests to facilitate easier analysis and troubleshooting.
Leverage Parallel Execution:
Modern CI tools often support parallel test execution across multiple containers. This significantly reduces overall test execution time, especially for extensive test suites.

Continuous Improvement:
Continuously monitor the performance and effectiveness of the automated tests. Identify areas for improvement, such as optimising execution time, refining tests or incorporating new testing types.
By adopting these strategies, you can establish a robust CI pipeline that aligns the deployment process with the power of automated testing, ensuring efficient and high-quality software development.