In the fast-paced world of mobile app development, the use of Continuous Integration and Continuous Deployment (CI/CD) best practices are vital. CI/CD is an approach that not only accelerates the development lifecycle, but also helps enforce higher quality mobile app releases. This tandem strategy, including continuous integration of code changes and their automatic deployment, proves important in both maintaining high release velocity while minimizing the impact of issues on end users.
In this post, we’ll c over the top CI/CD tools that your mobile team should know about. Before we get into this, we’d like to share that Embrace will be at the Bitrise Mobile DevOps Summit! On October 4th, our Senior Software Engineer, Craig Hawco will lead a session called “Solve hard-to-fix crashes in minutes with Bitrise & Embrace”. Don’t miss out on this session!
Bitrise is a dedicated CI/CD platform created for the world of mobile app development. With its intuitive interface and specialized toolset, Bitrise has carved a niche for itself in the mobile development community, becoming the go-to choice for teams seeking a seamless and automated workflow.
What mobile teams should know
Bitrise’s strength lies in its ability to transform the development process into an automated journey. Mobile teams can streamline workflows, allowing for swift integration of code changes, automated testing, and robust code signing. It’s also worth noting that Bitrise has a robust community of developers, so there are always accessible tutorials, articles, and guides.
- Dedicated to mobile apps: Bitrise is specifically built for mobile app development, providing countless integrations and specialized features and integrations for iOS and Android projects.
- Automated workflows: Bitrise offers intuitive automation, streamlining workflows for tasks like testing, code signing, and deployment.
- Ease of use: Bitrise is easy to learn and operate for different levels of expertise across their team.
Bitrise offers a range of plans, each catering to different team sizes and project requirements. Bitrise is free for hobbyists (e.g., individuals and students) — although this will only provide you with the basics of this mobile CI/CD tool. The rest of their paid tiers are as follows:
- The “Starter” plan starts at $89 a month and is intended for indie and small teams.
- The “Teams” plan starts at $360 a month and is meant for growing teams and midsize organizations.
- The “Velocity” plan starts at $2,500 per month and is for advanced mobile engineering organizations, unicorn startups, and multinational agencies.
- The “Enterprise Build Platform” has custom pricing and is for enterprise teams. It provides your team with a virtual private cloud for enhanced security and control.
At Embrace, we understand the challenges facing mobile teams, and that’s why we’re delighted to partner with Bitrise. Our integration seamlessly complements Bitrise’s capabilities and provides a more stable and secure experience than uploading symbols from your local machine.
CircleCI is a versatile CI/CD platform with support for both web and mobile. It’s popular within the industry, standing as a trusted choice for development teams across various domains. CircleCI is known for its compatibility with teams that are largely concerned with mobile performance.
What mobile dev teams should know
CircleCI offers a dynamic approach for mobile development. CircleCI is a fan favorite of mobile-first companies because it provides several XCode versions and pre-installed technologies like Homebrew and Fastlane for iOS CI/CD workflows. For Android workflows, CircleCI offers pre-installed technologies, including Android SDK, Google Cloud, and Ruby for Fastlane. The result is a finely-tuned system that significantly accelerates and refines app deployments, ensuring efficiency is at the forefront of every release.
- Versatility: CircleCI supports both web and mobile applications and also offers a wide range of capabilities beyond CI/CD.
- Customizable workflows: CircleCI provides a high degree of flexibility with over 2,500 integrations for designing custom workflows, allowing teams to adapt the process to their specific needs.
- Familiarity: CircleCI is a commonly used tool across the software industry. Because of this, you’re more likely to encounter engineers that are already familiar with it, making a team-wide integration much easier.
CircleCI offers a range of plans, each built for different team sizes and project scopes. They include:
- A free tier.
- A “Performance” tier starting at $15 a month. This is a cloud tier that allows users to pay for what they use.
- A “Scale” tier starting at $2,000 a month. This is a cloud-based enterprise-level tier.
- A “Server” tier with custom pricing. This is a self-hosted tier that allows you to use CircleCI on-prem or in a private cloud.
3. GitHub Actions
GitHub Actions is a game-changing addition to the CI/CD landscape because of its seamless integration with one of the most popular code hosting platforms. The direct integration with GitHub makes it a go-to choice for modern development teams seeking streamlined and automated workflows.
What mobile dev teams should know
In the realm of mobile development, GitHub Actions shines by providing a seamless and integrated CI/CD experience. Its versatility shows in its ability to easily create custom SDLC workflows directly within GitHub repositories. For mobile apps, this means that the entire development process can be orchestrated with precision, from testing to deployment in a single place.
- Integration with version control: GitHub Actions seamlessly integrates with GitHub repositories, allowing for a unified experience in code management and CI/CD.
- Native to GitHub: As a native feature of GitHub, Actions provides a seamless experience for developers already familiar with the platform.
- Great for individuals: GitHub Actions has great features from their free tier. This makes it accessible for individuals or small teams.
- GitHub Free which provides 500 MB of storage and 2,000 minutes per month.
- GitHub Pro which provides 1 GB of storage and 3,000 minutes per month.
- GitHub Team which provides 2 GB or storage and 3,000 minutes per month.
- GitHub Enterprise Cloud which provides 50 GB and 50,000 minutes per month.
It’s worth noting that jobs that run on Windows and macOS runners that GitHub hosts consume minutes at 2 and 10 times the rate that jobs on Linux runners consume.
4. GitLab CI/CD
GitLab is a web-based platform for managing and collaborating on software development projects. GitLab CI/CD is a component of GitLab that focuses on automating the CI/CD process. What sets GitLab CI/CD apart is its comprehensive approach to development, encompassing not only CI/CD but also a range of integrated tools, including ChatOps, Docker, Bitbucket Cloud, and more, that streamline the entire software development lifecycle.
What mobile dev teams should know
GitLab CI/CD integrates with Git repositories to ensure a smooth transition of code changes through the pipeline. Notably, its Auto DevOps feature automates much of the deployment. process, allowing mobile teams to focus on building and refining their apps without the hassle of manual configurations.
- Integrated platform: GitLab CI/CD is part of the larger GitLab platform, providing an integrated approach to version control, CI/CD, and project management.
- Auto DevOps: GitLab CI/CD features Auto DevOps, an automated framework that streamlines the development process, making it more efficient and less manual-intensive.
- A comprehensive approach: GitLab CI/CD’s integrated pipeline covers not only CI/CD but a wide range of development tools, providing a comprehensive solution for development teams.
GitLab offers several plans to cater to different team sizes and project scopes.
- The free tier provides 5GB of storage, 10GB transfer per month, and 400 compute minutes per month for 5 users.
- The “Premium” tier for $19 provides 50 GB of storage, 100GB transfer per month, and 10,000 compute minutes per month.
- The “Ultimate” tier at $99 provides 250GB storage, 500GB transfer per month, and 50,000 compute minutes per month.
Bamboo, developed by Atlassian, is a versatile CI/CD platform known for its robust integration capabilities. Specifically tailored for iOS and Android development workflows, Bamboo is a powerful tool for mobile teams due to its automatic build triggers. You can configure the tool to automatically trigger build jobs and integration tests whenever a change is made in the repository, making the entire process more efficient.
What mobile dev teams should know
Bamboo is another great CI/CD platform for mobile teams. It can automatically deploy to mobile app servers like Google Play and the App Store. You can also create permissions specific to environments that allow engineers to deploy to their environments while production is locked down.
- Atlassian ecosystem integration: Bamboo is part of the Atlassian suite, providing seamless integration with other Atlassian tools like Jira and Bitbucket.
- Specifically tailored for iOS and Android: Bamboo is known for its dedicated support for iOS and Android development workflows, making it an excellent choice for mobile teams.
- Streamlined workflows: Bamboo focuses on automating testing, code signing, and deployment processes, streamlining the mobile app development workflow.
Bamboo’s pricing is unique because it is based on agents rather than users. By adding more agents, you can expand the number of processes that can run concurrently. By charging per agent, Bamboo is flexible in terms of scalability, but it’s typically more cost effective for small teams. For example, a team with 5 remote agents would cost $3,200 while a team of 25 would cost $11,600.
Choosing the right CI/CD tool for mobile success
While all the CI/CD tools we’ve mentioned have their own unique benefits, the key to finding the right tool for your mobile team ultimately depends on the specific needs of your team and the goals of your app. The most important thing is making sure your CI/CD tool helps you efficiently test and ship quality releases.
This brings us to Embrace’s Bitrise integration. We’re excited to share how you can continually ship incredible mobile experiences with Embrace and Bitrise, and we encourage you to check out our talk at Bitrise Mobile DevOps Summit.
If your mobile team struggles to improve mobile app performance, check out Embrace. Our automated data collection and unified platform empower engineers to identify, prioritize, and resolve problems in their apps, while also surfacing opportunities to perfect app performance and delight their end users. You can get started today with a free trial of Embrace for up to 45 days and 1 million user sessions.