Automating Your App Development Workflows

5 min read Michael Carroll on Sep 5, 2023
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According to a State of Agile report, 71% of teams adopt Agile and DevOps practices into their workflows to meet quick turnaround times without affecting software quality.

Automation tools are an integral part of the Agile+DevOps system, which improves development speed while eliminating manual errors and inefficiencies from the software development life cycle (SDLC). Its influence is only growing as many industries become believers in the benefits of automating development processes to help meet team initiatives and business goals.

So, what exactly is development automation? And how is it changing the app development game?

Development automation: An overview

Development process automation is a DevOps approach that is exactly what it sounds focuses on automating development processes. Dev teams can significantly reduce software development time while reducing bottlenecks and errors and realizing overall cost savings. The prime candidates for DevOps automation are development processes like integration, code review, testing, deployment, and monitoring.

However, automation for the sake of automation is never a good idea. Instead, build automation around the dev team’s requirements, which can vary across companies and industries. For example, an app development team that has the sales team as stakeholders will have different priorities and metrics they’re trying to reach than teams that support healthcare or social media apps.

This means starting by identifying the steps in your development process and checking whether they meet the following development automation criteria:

  • Are they repetitive and manual processes?

  • Are they human error-prone?

  • Are they time-consuming?

  • Are they resource-intensive?

  • Are they frequent and scalable?

Making sure processes meet the criteria first ensures you reap all the benefits of automating the development process:

  • Eliminate human error by automating manual tasks like code review and data entry.

  • Deliver more consistent results during software development by streamlining repetitive tasks.

  • Make scaling easier when you grow your business.

  • Optimize communication between teams and departments.

  • Boost productivity and free dev teams up to focus on the meaningful work they enjoy.

Examples of automated development processes

While complex decision-making isn’t always able to be automated, many steps in the development cycle can become powerful tools when automated, going beyond their initial purpose.

Automated testing

The core principle behind continuous integration/continuous deployment (CI/CD) is “build fast, test fast, fail fast,” and automated testing plays an important role. Automated testing removes manual testing processes using test scripts to run checks on a feature or requirement before pushing them to production.

Automated testing takes less time than traditional manual testing, reduces human errors, and catches bugs that may have gone unnoticed. However, it only works for repetitive tasks. So it’s mostly used to automate tests like unit tests, regression tests, load/performance tests, and user interface (UI) tests.

Automated code review

The source code is the lifeblood of your project, and a code review worked into your business processes before deployment helps identify any bugs and security issues. However, manual code reviews are time-consuming. Automating code review can drastically speed up the process, giving developers ample time to fix the bugs before deployment. Moreover, automated reviews detect bugs more reliably and ensure the code is up to the mark.

Automated code review tools are designed for three circumstances:

  • Static analysis tools to scan the source code for security vulnerabilities and ensure it meets industry standards before moving to production.

  • Dynamic analysis tools to test the code in real-world situations to see how they perform.

  • Code comparison tools to ensure consistency across two source code versions.

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Automated code formatting

A consistent coding format is necessary so any developer can understand the code. However, most developers lean on their coding style, making it difficult for anyone to pick up and continue the work.

DevOps teams have adopted code editors with built-in automated code formatting tools to format source code automatically and meet specific rules and guidelines. Now, anyone working on the code will know what’s going on. Plus, you can easily link the tool with third-party libraries as well.

Automated dependency management

Around 80% of modern apps rely on a relationship called open-source dependencies, where the application depends on other open-source software to run smoothly. Regularly updating dependencies is the best way to avoid vulnerabilities and accumulating technical debt. But these dependencies usually use hundreds of open-source libraries, making manual updates cumbersome.

Automated dependency management speeds up this process by automatically checking and updating your dependencies. It ensures that code complies with copyright laws, reduces security risks, and ensures everything runs smoothly with the latest updates.

Infrastructure as Code (IaC)

Cloud technology has popularized microservices and containerization, which means software infrastructure must support hundreds of smaller applications instead of a few larger ones. IaC makes this possible using software and automation that can govern more complex, versatile, and scalable processes.

IaC is valuable in a DevOps environment because it offers developers direct access to the IT infrastructure. It also ensures that the infrastructure supporting the software meets DevOps' best practices, like continuous monitoring, code consistency, and version control.

Development automation everywhere: A use case review

The versatility of automated development processes makes them extremely valuable for industries across the spectrum.

Automating messaging applications to power collaborative media buying

BluHorn and SourceFuse wanted to build a collaborative media buying platform that offered worksheets, integrations, a marketplace, and real-time chat for buyers and planners to collaborate. BluHorn, the media buying platform, wanted a real-time chat application with a timeline feature that updated automatically. But SourceFuse, BluHorn's development services provider, struggled to find a platform to support the unique requirement.

Eventually, SourceFuse enlisted PubNub's flexible Data Streaming Network, which allowed SourceFuse to create a reliable chat experience with real-time capabilities. Additionally, the PubNub platform's ability to update data changes as they happen powered the timeline feature. BluHorn and SourceFuse successfully pushed preferred features in aggressive two-week Agile sprints, thanks to the PubNub platform managing the backend capabilities.

Simplifying scaling to support customer experience

Invstr is an investing app that allows people to manage their investments from one platform. Invstr needed to support various real-time functions within their app, including access to news and financial data, buying and selling crypto, and investing in stocks.

Invstr leveraged PubNub's Data Streaming service to automatically stream real-time changes in stock market or crypto prices, enabling investors to make data-driven investment decisions. With PubNub managing the infrastructure, Invstr can confidently scale their applications without downtime concerns.

Grow faster with development automation

Automation technology was never meant to replace software developers. Instead, it allows team members to focus on creating better user experiences by performing mundane tasks like testing, deployment, and infrastructure management.

However, automating every SLDC aspect may be a stretch. Identifying which steps in the development process to automate is extremely important.

PubNub’s Data Streaming Network automates your data change updates while complying with local data regulations. We even have an artificial intelligence-driven (AI) integration that empowers teams to automate everything from sending notifications to chatbot creation to a geo-coordinate-powered recommendation engine. Contact us to learn more about our offerings, or sign up for a free trial to get started.