Press "Enter" to skip to content

Mutli-Branch Pipelines In Jenkins

Chris Adkin continues his SQL Server continuous integration series:

Whatever you elect to do there will always be a master branch, where you go from here depends on whether you favor branching or feature toggles. Wikipedia provides a nice definition of what a feature toggle is, thus:

feature toggle[1] (also feature switchfeature flagfeature flipperconditional feature, etc.) is a technique in software development that attempts to provide an alternative to maintaining multiple source-code branches (known as feature branches), such that a feature can be tested even before it is completed and ready for release. Feature toggle is used to hide, enable or disable the feature during run time. For example, during the development process, a developer can enable the feature for testing and disable it for other users.[2]

A branch is initially a clone of the master branch to begin with, developers work on the branch. Once the work on that branch is code complete and it has been tested to satisfaction, it is merged into the master. An overview of the branching and merging process is provided in the Git documentation here.

The continuous integration and delivery purist are not great fans of branches and prefer the ethos of integrating changes into one place to be rigidly adhered to, ergo one code branch only. However, in practice you will find that most projects have to come up with some sane branching strategy. The subject of branching is a topic in its own right, suffice it to say there is an overhead in applying changes across multiple branches and overheads involved in merging into the master branch. Therefore, there needs to be some governance and rigor applied around the number of branches in the source code repository.

Chris then shows us how to create a multi-branch pipeline with Jenkins.