CI/CD (continuous integration and continuous delivery/deployment) tools help automate the software development lifecycle. By automating integration, testing, and deployment, CI/CD tools can streamline and accelerate software delivery without sacrificing code reliability and quality.
This guide will break down the following CI/CD tools in terms of their features, pros, cons, and pricing so you can pick the one that best fits your software development team’s needs:
- TeamCity: A great pick for teams needing a scalable, extensible, and user-friendly all-purpose CI/CD platform with solid reporting.
- Jenkins: An excellent choice for teams needing a free-to-use open-source CI/CD tool with extensibility and customizability.
- Travis CI: Ideal for teams seeking cloud-hosted, user-friendly CI/CD options with minimal setup and maintenance.
- CircleCI: A speedy choice with a robust free plan for teams needing to migrate from other CI/CD tools with ease.
TeamCity is a user-friendly CI/CD platform from JetBrains. It is a solid solution for project managers, developers, and DevOps engineers seeking a scalable continuous integration, delivery, and deployment tool with plenty of built-in features, extensibility via third-party integrations, and robust reporting.
Features of TeamCity
TeamCity has several features that make it popular with DevOps teams, including:
- Continuous integration tools
- Code quality tracking
- Build history and agents
- Advanced user management
- Third-party integrations
- JetBrains ecosystem
TeamCity offers continuous integration via features like remote run, pre-tested commit, automatic investigation assignment, flaky test detection, and more. It has code quality tracking for feedback and verifying changes, build history to spot the root causes of issues, build agents to verify changes with verification results, and user management (role assignments, user sorting, authentication, and more.).
TeamCity also offers plenty of integrations to extend its impressive built-in functionality even more. You get version control integrations with Git, Azure DevOps, Mercurial, etc., and integrations with popular programmer tools like Jira, Docker, Bugzilla, Maven, and more. TeamCity also lets developers take advantage of the JetBrains ecosystem, which features a plethora of code debugging tools, IDEs, and other programmer tools created by JetBrains.
Pros of TeamCity
TeamCity’s pros include:
- Simplicity – easy to setup and configure
- Out-of-the-box features
- Extensibility via third-party tools
- Detailed test reporting
TeamCity requires minimal effort during setup and configuration. And, once you get going, the CI/CD tool is quite easy to use, thanks to a modern, intuitive interface and clutter-free design.
Instead of relying heavily on plugins like many DevOps tools, TeamCity has sufficient built-in functionality for most use cases. However, if you need more bells and whistles and want to power up TeamCity’s potential, you can do so via several third-party integrations with developer tools like Jira, Docker, Maven, Azure, Kubernetes, etc. TeamCity’s detailed test reporting is another plus, as it is fast and offers actionable feedback for code testing and areas of improvement within the codebase.
Cons of TeamCity
TeamCity’s cons include:
- Following and user base
- Performance can be iffy for larger projects
- Lacking API documentation
Smaller development teams may find TeamCity too expensive. The programmer tool’s following is smaller than some competitors’, which could mean less outside support and resources from places like developer forums or websites that offer tutorials. That being said, the tool is relatively new, so this won’t be a permanent issue; additionally, JetBrains does offer plenty of learning and troubleshooting resources to counteract this, though, again, this is still limited at the moment. That being said, it is still worth mentioning.
Speaking of resources, TeamCity tends to use many of them, which can lead to sluggish machine performance. API integration documentation is also lacking and on the basic side.
Pricing of TeamCity
TeamCity offers on-premises and cloud pricing. On-premise plans include:
- Professional: Free forever.
- Enterprise: $1,999 for the first year; $999 for the second year onwards.
The Professional plan offers unlimited users and build time and 100 build configurations at no cost. Enterprise allows for unlimited build configurations with dedicated support. Once you choose your server license, you can select the number of build agents you need, which cost $299 each. The first three build agents are free.
TeamCity’s cloud pricing is according to committers. Choose three committers, and you will pay $45 per month ($15 per committer). Learn more about TeamCity pricing here.
Read: JetBrains Space Review
Jenkins is an open-source automation server ideal for software development teams seeking a CI/CD tool that is extensible, customizable, free to use, and has a vast ecosystem of community-contributed plugins.
Features of Jenkins
Some of Jenkins’ top features include:
- CI/CD tools
- Distributed architecture supports multiple platforms
- Flexible and customizable DevOps pipelines
- Advanced reports for build, code testing, and code coverage
- Plugins for build management and version control
Jenkins can function as a basic continuous integration server or be converted into a continuous delivery hub for projects. Its distributed architecture accelerates building, testing, and deployment across multiple platforms, and developers can use the automation tool to create flexible, customizable, and complex pipelines.
Reporting (build and test results, code coverage, and more) is another Jenkins highlight, and its top feature could be the plugin ecosystem with over 1,800 selections for build management, source code management, user interface, administration, and other developer tools.
Pros of Jenkins
Jenkins’ strengths include:
- Plenty of plugins to enhance functionality
- Customized configurations
- Large following and support
The over 1,800 plugins give developers plenty of extensibility and ability to add functionality, reducing the number of applications required in a development environment. When configuring the programmer tool, developers can stick to installing just the features they need, making it easier to navigate the platform when working on smaller projects.
Jenkins’ large following is another big plus for added resources and support, and the open-source nature that makes it free to use is a huge advantage for many teams with limited budgets.
Cons of Jenkins
Jenkins’ weaknesses include:
- User interface
- Reported sluggishness
- Plugin updates
The Jenkins interface is not the most user-friendly or modern you will find, which is where customizing comes into play to make it more manageable. And, if you have a ton of installed plugins on a local server, the interface could become lethargic, depending on your system resources.
While the plugins are a plus, you must make sure they are updated to avoid performance or security issues. And, compared to some competitors, Jenkins has a steeper learning curve, though it is well worth the process when you take into consideration the functionality of the software.
Pricing of Jenkins
If you are trying to keep your programming and development costs down, you will be glad to know that Jenkins is free to use. You may incur costs for premium third-party plugins or servers, maintenance, and hardware when using the CI/CD tool, so keep that in mind when calculating costs and weighing options.
Travis CI is a CI/CD tool that offers convenient cloud hosting options and is flexible, user-friendly, and easy to set up and maintain.
Features of Travis CI
Travis CI’s highlighted features that make it a widely used DevOps tool include:
- Multi-environment testing
- Multi-language build support matrix
- Code quality tools
- Automations for validation and deployment
- Third-party integrations
Developers can use Travis CI to run and test in multiple environments simultaneously. The CI/CD tool also supports over 30 coding languages with its multi-language build support matrix.
Travis CI offers coding tool capabilities through its code quality feature that catches bugs and code failures automatically and deploys changes once safe. There are time-saving single-command automations for integration, validation, and deployment, plus integrations with Slack, AWS, Docker, Perforce, and other third-party programmer tools.
Pros of Travis CI
Some of Travis CI’s pros include:
- Easy to maintain
- Fuss-free hosting setup
- Cloud options
- Requires less code than competitors
Travis CI is simple to use, set up, and maintain. Much of its fuss-free nature can be attributed to the convenient cloud hosting options. Travis CI also uses very little code to function; according to its website, the programming tool employs around 33% less code than competitors.
Cons of Travis CI
Travis CI’s cons include:
- Support can be slow
- No free plan
- Pricing for smaller organizations
Although mainly easy to use and maintenance-free, Travis CI could become frustrating if you run into issues and need help, as the support is noted for being slow. The lack of a free plan is another knock, and some smaller teams with limited budgets may find the CI/CD software pricey.
Pricing of Travis CI
Travis CI cloud pricing is as follows:
- Bootstrap: $64 monthly, one concurrent job.
- Startup: $119 monthly, two concurrent jobs.
- Small Business: $229 monthly, five concurrent jobs.
- Premium: $449 monthly, 10 concurrent jobs.
- Platinum: $729+ monthly, 15-300 concurrent jobs.
Each cloud plan comes with unlimited build minutes, collaborators, and repositories.
Travis CI’s Enterprise plan costs $34 per user per month for those seeking a versatile, scalable self-hosted solution in their private cloud or on-premise.
CircleCI is CI/CD software with a solid free plan ideal for teams looking to migrate with ease and who place a premium on speed and performance.
Features of CircleCI
CircleCI’s long list of features includes the following:
- Multiple execution environments
- Resource classes for increased productivity
- Insight dashboard
- VS Code extension
- Workflow templates
- SHS debugging
Flexibility comes through CircleCI’s support for multiple execution environments. The CI/CD tool supports all languages, plus Windows, macOS, Linux, Docker, and other popular platforms. CircleCI’s resource classes increase productivity and accelerate builds, and its insight dashboard helps project managers make data-driven decisions by providing an overview of customizable metrics in one central location.
CircleCI minimizes context switching with its VS Code extension and saves time with its workflow templates that help developers independently run and troubleshoot jobs. Bugs get fixed fast via SHS debugging, and the CI/CD software’s functionality gets extended via thousands of third-party integrations, including such notables as Bitbucket, GitHub, and GitLab.
Pros of CircleCI
CircleCI’s advantages include:
- Free build minutes
- Fast performance
- Seamless migration from other CI/CD tools
Budget-minded developers will enjoy the 6,000 no-cost build minutes from CircleCI’s <bFree plan. The CI/CD software offers enterprise-level speed and is supposedly 70% faster than competitors. CircleCI is user-friendly, and migrating from other CI/CD tools like Jenkins could not be easier.
Cons of CircleCI
CircleCI’s disadvantages include:
- Repository support is limited
- Pricing structure is complicated
- Reported outages
CircleCI repository support is somewhat limited, with GitHub, Bitbucket, and GitLab being your options. Calculating the price can get complex once you factor in user seats and build minutes. And stability is another disadvantage, as CircleCI is noted for having lengthy outages and downtime.
Pricing of CircleCI
CircleCI pricing is as follows:
- Server (self-hosted): Custom pricing.
- Free (cloud): No cost.
- Performance (cloud): $15 per month for five users.
- Scale (cloud): $2,000 monthly.
The Server plan comes with unlimited build minutes and 30 user seats that can be expanded. The Free, cloud-based plan comes with 6,000 monthly build minutes for five users. Performance comes with the same and lets you run up to 80 concurrent jobs. The Scale plan comes with around-the-clock support and enterprise-level capabilities.
What to Look For in CI/CD Software
There are several continuous integration and continuous deployment tools on the market. How can you ensure you pick the right one? That depends on your software development team’s specific needs, but you can filter through the available choices by looking at several factors, including:
- Intuitive interface/easy to setup and configure
- Pricing fits your budget
- Check supported platforms and environments
- Scalability and security
- Does it have common CI/CD features
- Does it have good support and an active community?
First, look for reviews of automation tools to make sure they have an intuitive interface and are user-friendly and easy to set up. Second, check the pricing. While some continuous integration and deployment tools are open-source and free, some may be costly and could exceed your budget. Third, check to see that the deployment tool supports the platforms/environments you use and that it integrates with your version control system. Fourth, consider the developer tool’s scalability, customizability, reliability, and security (encryption, role-based access control, etc.). Fifth, check for essential CI/CD features like automated builds and testing, artifact management, deployment automation, monitoring, reporting, and integrations with code quality, testing, and other developer tools. And lastly, look for a continuous integration and deployment tool with solid support and a large, active community.
Final Thoughts on CI/CD Tools for Developers
The CI/CD selections listed above represent some of the top automation tools on the market. Although it is tough to go wrong with any one of those choices, carefully consider your software development team’s specific needs to ensure the CI/CD tool you pick matches your requirements for budget, user-friendliness, and features.
Now that you have learned about some of the best CI/CD tools, you might want to consider adding other types of programming tools to your repertoire, including project and task management software and collaboration tools. We have a few roundups of popular developer tools in those categories to help you get started: