You’ve probably heard of Continuous Integration and Continuous Delivery when it comes to practices on software automation. You are also probably investing on Automatic Testing, or considering the correct approach to include it in your release pipeline. Continuous Inspection is just one more step on your improvement cycle.
The basic idea behind Continuous Inspection is to perform an evaluation on the code itself, in an effort to refine software quality. Historically, this has been done by code reviewers – usually external auditors to the team, or seniors with great knowledge of the business – during the last steps of the project’s creation. Examining each code commit automatically reduces this effort dramatically, as each submission is already evaluated for minimum quality gates.
Including a Continuous Inspection tool on your automated pipelines gives automatic feedback to the development team, empowering them to find the best approach to fix the issues on quality, as they are the experts on the product that they are creating. External audits will lack the finesse that being involved with the code brings to the table. You can even define a set of minimum requirements, creating a sort of “quality gated check-in” that will reject code not up to the standard.
Combining this practice with unit and acceptance tests is a key to success, and one that reduces the technical debt that your project will accumulate, preventing the need of massive refactoring. Maintenance on legacy projects usually takes a heavy toll on a department’s capacity, so adopting this strategy allows for early identification of issues.
Finally, the last benefit that i want to emphasize is transparency: reporting services based on the output of code analysis introduces a new tool to analyze a project’s historical evolution from the quality point of view. Improvements on the caliber of the software will become something measurable, instead of an abstraction.
These three milestones (immediate feedback, increasing maintainability, and quality measurement) make Continuous Inspection an investment that your business can’t afford to ignore.
Written by Álvaro G. Cachón