Continuous integration and continuous delivery/deployment (CI/CD) tools infuse automation into the software development lifecycle. By helping developers automate integration, testing and deployment, these handy tools can maintain code quality and reliability while streamlining and accelerating software delivery.
This guide will break down the following top open-source CI/CD tools in terms of their features, pros, cons, and pricing:
- Jenkins, ideal for developers who place a premium on customization and extensibility.
- Spinnaker, a solid pick for small and large development teams seeking a cloud-centered continuous delivery tool that standardizes releases and improves quality.
- CircleCI, an excellent selection for developers seeking the fastest CI/CD platform available.
- GoCD, a great pick for developers looking for an extensible open-source automation tool with complex workflow modeling, end-to-end visualizations and cloud-native deployments.
Jenkins is an open-source automation server. The popular developer tool is known for customization and flexibility and it results in increased speed, quality, efficiency and productivity by automating building, testing and deployment for software development teams.
Features of Jenkins
Some of Jenkins’ top features as an open-source CI/CD tool include:
- Over 1,800 plugins.
- Continuous integration.
- Continuous delivery/deployment.
- Build pipelines.
- Distributed architecture.
Jenkins’ large and loyal following has built a massive library of over 1,800 plugins to offer extensibility in build management, administration, interface, source code management, etc. Developers can automatically integrate code changes with the CI/CD software on a continuous basis, plus automate building, testing, and deployment.
Jenkins also allows developers to create flexible, customizable and complex build pipelines, and uses a distributed architecture to offer enhanced performance and scalability.
Pros of Jenkins
Jenkins’ pros include:
- Vast community.
- Thousands of plugins.
Jenkins’ large community and loyal following mean developers can enjoy more support and resources than programmer tools that are newer to the market. The 1,800-plus plugins offer tons of added functionality, and Jenkins is also customizable in how it lets developers choose which features they want to install. Perhaps the biggest pro of the open-source developer tool is that it is free to use.
Cons of Jenkins
Jenkins’ cons include:
- Steep learning curve.
- Outdated interface.
- Plugin issues.
Jenkins takes some time to get used to for beginners, as it is more complex than some competing CI/CD tools. The interface could use a facelift to become more modern and user-friendly. Since Jenkins’s community offers so many plugins, you may be tempted to install several. If so, be sure to update them regularly to avoid security problems or slow performance. And the more plugins you install on a local server, the slower you can expect Jenkins’ interface to react.
Pricing of Jenkins
Jenkins’ status as open-source CI/CD software means it is free to use. If your software development team plans on using premium plugins with the programmer tool, those will incur additional costs, as can hardware, servers, maintenance, etc.
Spinnaker is an open-source, multi-cloud CD platform that helps developers quickly and confidently release software changes.
Features of Spinnaker
Some of Spinnaker’s top features include:
- Automated releases.
- Multiple cloud providers.
- Deployment best practices.
- Role-based access control.
- Third-party integrations.
Spinnaker lets developers automate releases by creating deployment pipelines to run system and integration tests, monitor rollouts and more. The CD tool offers deployment across multiple cloud providers, such as Kubernetes, Microsoft Azure, AWS EC2, etc.
Developers can configure pipelines with built-in best practices for deployment (highlander, blue-green, canary, etc.) and restrict account or project access with role-based access control. Spinnaker offers event notifications for Slack, SMS, email and HipChat, plus integration with popular developer tools for continuous integration, monitoring and more.
Pros of Spinnaker
Spinnaker’s pros include:
- Large community.
- Supports multiple cloud providers.
Spinnaker integrates with continuous integration tools (Jenkins, Travis CI, etc.), monitoring tools (Prometheus, Datadog, etc.) and more for extended functionality. The developer tool has a large, active community that offers added support and resources, and Spinnaker can be scaled to service teams of differing sizes. Another Spinnaker pro is its support for a plethora of cloud providers.
Cons of Spinnaker
Spinnaker’s cons include:
- User interface.
- Not beginner-friendly.
Spinnaker’s user interface may seem confusing to some, and installation/configuration can be complex for beginners. Some users have also noted that Spinnaker may take some time to secure properly.
Pricing of Spinnaker
Since it is an open-source continuous delivery platform, Spinnaker is free to use. You may incur additional costs for using the automation software effectively, such as deployment to a cloud provider like AWS, Azure, Google Cloud or other services.
CircleCI is a CI/CD platform that claims to be the fastest on the market and the most flexible in compute and execution environments. The developer tool also claims to have the best CI/CD for an open-source plan, with over three million monthly open-source builds on the platform.
Features of CircleCI
Some of CircleCI’s highlights include:
- Execution environment flexibility.
- Time-saving workflows.
- Extension for VS Code.
- Resource classes.
- Third-party integrations.
CircleCI supports multiple execution environments (Docker, Linux, macOS, Windows, etc.) and allows developers to build on any machine type in the language they choose. It has an insight dashboard that lets project managers make critical decisions based on data, plus time-saving workflows for running and troubleshooting jobs independently.
CircleCI’s VS Code extension eliminates distractions from context switching, and its SHS debugging ensures that bugs get fixed quickly. The developer tool also has resource classes for accelerating builds and boosting productivity and integrations with thousands of third-party tools, like GitHub and Bitbucket.
Pros of CircleCI
CircleCI’s strengths include:
- Easy to use.
- Free plan.
CircleCI is very easy to use and offers exceptional speed. According to its site, CircleCI is 70 percent faster than the competition. The CI/CD tool makes it easy to migrate from other automation tools, and its free build minutes for open-source projects are another plus.
Cons of CircleCI
CircleCI’s weaknesses include:
- Support for repositories.
Should you opt for a paid plan and upgrade CircleCI’s features, you may find it a hassle trying to calculate the price since it is based on build minutes and seats. CircleCI has experienced outages and extended downtime in the past, its support for repositories beyond GitHub, GitLab and Bitbucket is limited.
Pricing of Circle CI
CircleCI has a free plan for open-source. It offers 80,000 build minutes at no cost for Arm, Linux and Docker open-source builds and 30,000 credits for Windows and MacOS builds. Should you look to upgrade for more features, such as the ability to run more concurrent jobs, access to GPU resource classes, config policies, enhanced scalability, dedicated support, etc., you can sign up for one of CircleCI’s paid plans that start at $15 per month.
GoCD is an extensible CI/CD open-source tool for DevOps projects that helps developers model and visualize complex workflows with ease and offers cloud-native deployments, advanced traceability and more.
Features of GoCD
GoCD’s list of features is highlighted by:
- Complex workflow modeling.
- End-to-end visualization.
- Advanced traceability.
- Cloud-native deployments.
GoCD offers out-of-the-box CD by letting developers model complex continuous delivery workflows for quick feedback via parallel execution, modeling constructs, and dependency management. Developers can visualize their entire production path in a single view and optimize their processes by navigating across jobs and pinpointing inefficiencies with ease.
The DevOps tool provides advanced traceability, too, with real-time tracking for all changes from commit to deployment, which comes in handy when troubleshooting broken pipelines.
GoCD also offers cloud-native deployments (AWS, Docker, Kubernetes, etc.) and has an extensible plugin architecture for integrating many of the top developer tools and services.
Pros of GoCD
GoCD’s advantages include:
- Active community.
- Advanced CI/CD.
GoCD offers extended functionality thanks to its plugin architecture and flexibility by supporting various deployment platforms, version control systems and more. The active forum lets community members share continuous delivery tips, best practices and resources to get beginners and existing users up to speed. GoCD’s advanced features (traceability, workflow modeling, etc.) are another pro in its favor.
Cons of GoCD
GoCD’s disadvantages include:
- Complex setup.
- Difficult to use.
- Scaling issues.
Beginners may have issues with GoCD’s complex setup and configuration. Some have complained that the CI/CD tool may be difficult to use due to its non-intuitive interface. And others have noted possible scaling issues and limitations when working with several pipelines.
Pricing of GoCD
As with other open-source CI/CD platforms on this list, GoCD is free. Remember that you may incur additional costs for hardware if you are deploying on-premises or cloud costs if you use a provider like AWS or Azure.
What to Look For in Open Source CI/CD Software
When choosing open-source CI/CD software, consider several factors to make your decision easier. First, consider the complexity of the configuration and setup and whether it is user-friendly and has an intuitive interface. Second, ensure that the developer tool supports multiple frameworks and programming languages, and integrates with version control systems and other tools you commonly use.
Third, make sure the open-source programmer tool offers the scalability you desire. Fourth, look at the size of the tool’s following and community and see if it offers sufficient support and resources, plus plugins for extensibility. Lastly, pay attention to security features and make sure the open-source tool offers any other specific functionalities your development team requires.
Final Thoughts on the Top Open Source CI/CD Tools
The open-source CI/CD and automation tools listed above can increase the efficiency and productivity of your software development team. Before choosing one, be sure to review its features and pros and cons to ensure they all align with your specific needs for continuous integration and delivery/deployment.