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Apr 28 2016

Jenkins 2.0 Arrives

Delaware-based software company CloudBees, specialist in creating tools for continuous integration, has introduced a new version of its continuous delivery platform.

One of the key effects of cloud computing is that it has turned customers and users into a dominant force in software development: it's as if they think up new functionalities every other day and want them delivered on the spot. At the same time, they expect these improvements to be made in a secure and reliable fashion. The software industry has reacted to these demands by adopting concepts like continuous integration (CI), continuous delivery (CD) and DevOps that serve to accelerate and automate the development process.

One of the most popular tools in this context is Jenkins, whose development began in the early noughties as part of Sun Microsystems's Hudson project. Following the Oracle-Sun merger of 2009, that project forked, and by 2011, the Jenkins branch – now under stewardship of CloudBees – had turned into the far more promising successor. Essentially an open source automation server, Jenkins is the platform of choice for companies that wish to speed up and take full control of the processes in the development lifecycle, from build to deployment, analysis and beyond. Over the past five years, Jenkins became so popular that it spawned the creation of a whole new ecosystem that included roughly 1,100 plug-ins.

With the release of Jenkins 2.0, CloudBees now takes a major step forward, adding some long-awaited functionalities while trying to appear more advanced to potential users who have reservations about first-gen release numbers. Main improvements in the new version include built-in support for delivery pipelines and tweaks to the user interface:

  • Since the new coding concepts described above are spreading fast, development teams often find themselves lacking an adequate tool that could help them "model, orchestrate and visualize" software delivery, i.e. to keep tabs of the accelerated development process. To change this, Jenkins 2.0 introduces the concept of pipelines as a means that allows programmers to define application lifecycles upfront and create a regulated, script-based workflow that spans all the typical stages of a software project, from code commit through testing to deployment and going live/productive. Pipelines are built from simple text scripts that use a so-called domain-specific language (DSL) based on Groovy. These scripts enable coders to not only integrate several steps of programming, but also to make sure that the steps follow a certain order (or sequence) based on individual parameters. In other words, pipelines steer and control the entire process, allowing for full-fledged automation while providing ample room for human interaction. Moreover, the pipeline stage view feature will give software teams a detailed overview of their production process so that they may determine whether or not it was blocked at some point and how to fix possible issues.
  • Due to the rapid evolvement of its plug-in ecosystem, setting up and configuring Jenkins could turn into a complex task even for hard-nosed developers. In order to remove this barrier, the Jenkins team gave the UI a massive overhaul: version 2.0 now starts with a "Customize" screen that gives users the option to either install a set of "suggested" plug-ins that proved to be particularly popular in existing installations or make individual choices – the process is thus very much akin to installing a standard browser. In addition, the "Create item" and "Job configuration" pages have been redesigned to remove clutter and make development simpler and more convenient.

Jenkins 2.0 was designed to replace older installations but is fully backwards compatible, meaning that existing job definitions and source code stored in so-called Jenkinsfiles will survive the upgrade. To learn more, please see the Jenkins 2.0 overview as well as the documentation and wiki – and check out the CloudBees blogs.


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