“Continuous Delivery (CD) is a software engineering approach in which teams keep producing valuable software in short cycles and ensure that the software can be reliably released at any time.” (from here)
Software artefacts are developed using a build pipeline. This pipeline consists of several steps to provide quick feedback on software quality by means of code quality checks, automated tests, test coverage checks, etc. When the software is done (adhering to a Definition of Done (DoD)), it is released. This release as a whole is then tested and promoted until it reaches a production environment. In the meantime, work on a next release has already started. This process is shown in the below image. This is a minimal example (especially on the test part). In the below image, you can see there are 3 releases in progress. This is only in order to illustrate the process. You should of course try to limit the number of releases which are not in production to reduce the overhead of fixes on those releases.
Automation of the release process is often a challenge. Why is this difficult? One of the reasons is the identification of what should be in a release. This is especially so when the process of creating a release is not automated. There is a transition phase (in the image between Test phase 2 and Test phase 3) when the unit (artefact) build pipeline stops and when the release as a whole continues to be promoted through the environments. In the image of the process above, you can easily identify where you can automate the construction of a release; at the end of the unit build pipeline. This is where you can identify the unit which has been approved by means of the different test phases / quality checks in the unit build pipeline and you know the release the unit has to be put in to be propagated as a whole. Why not add the unit to the release in an automated fashion there? Read the complete article here.
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