Hooray for Continuous Delivery!

Continuous delivery is awesome!

The basic idea is that every single commit should be ready to go to production as soon as it's pushed. Continuous deployment takes it a step further, and has every commit immediately go straight to production, as long as it passes successfully through a pipeline of tests. In my opinion, continuous deployment is even better, as long as it suits your application.

So why am I celebrating? I put this blog live only a few hours ago, and just now I finished writing some changes to the underlying code. In order to get that code live, all I had to do was push it to GitHub and wait a minute or so, and I had full confidence that I wasn't going to break the site in the process. So what's necessary to make that work?

  1. Source control. writeitdown is checked into github. Hopefully source control is a given for any serious project these days...
  2. A solid suite of automated tests. I'm using mocha as a testing framework, with sinon for test doubles and chai for assertions. The unit and integration test coverage is decent enough to give me confidence that any changes I write do what they're meant to do, without breaking existing functionality. Functional testing is something I still need to add.
  3. A continuous delivery pipeline. Continuous integration servers like Jenkins are so 2011. If you want to do CD, it's best to have a build server that reflects that model. One where a change is promoted through a series of steps that verify that the code works, before ultimately deploying it. That deployment can be manually triggered for controlled releases, or automatic for continuous deployment. Anyway, writeitdown has a CD pipeline hosted on Snap CI, with automatic deployments for every successful build!
  4. An automated build and deploy process. This varies in difficulty depending on what you're building, but for something as simple as a node.js website, Heroku's deploy-via-git model works great. At some stage I'd like to Dockerise writeitdown, but neither Snap nor Heroku support Docker at the moment, so I'd probably need to move to GoCD and EC2.

I don't want to get too carried away with my accomplishments, as this is obviously a pretty simple application, without all of the complexities (both organisational and technical) that make continuous delivery hard. But still, I'm pretty happy that I seem to have got the model right from the start, which will hopefully make it really easy to keep growing the project.