What is Pipeline as Code? An In-Depth Definition and Breakdown

46311285 - What is Pipeline as Code? An In-Depth Definition and Breakdown

Explore the concept of ‘Pipeline as Code’ with our detailed guide. Understand its definition, importance, and how it revolutionizes software development and deployment in the tech industry.


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    Pipeline as code is a concept that revolutionizes the way software developers manage their continuous delivery pipelines by treating them as an integral part of the source code itself. By automating and streamlining deployment, configuration, and management processes, this approach enables teams to develop, test, and release software more quickly and reliably, without sacrificing quality. With the number of deployed applications growing at 30% annually and the increased use of cloud-based services, the demand for efficient, automated development processes has never been higher. In this glossary, we will delve deeper into the definition, workings, benefits, use cases, and best practices of pipeline as code, as well as recommend some must-read books on the subject.

    “Pipeline as Code is the next revolution in software development, empowering teams to define their entire delivery process in code, for ultimate flexibility, scalability, and reliability.” – Martin Fowler

    What is pipeline as code? Definition of Pipeline Script

    Pipeline as code refers to a development approach in which continuous delivery (CD) pipelines are defined and built using code rather than traditional manual processes, such as using a GUI or configuring by hand. By encoding the entire pipeline within the source code repository, the delivery process becomes a versioned, readable, and recoverable component that can be easily shared, modified, and maintained.

    ℹ️ Synonyms: Infrastructure as Code, CI/CD as Code, DevOps as Code, Automation as Code, Continuous Delivery as Code, Continuous Deployment as Code.

    How it Works

    Implementing pipeline as code requires utilizing a domain-specific language (DSL) to encode the build, deployment, and testing processes within the software codebase. Examples of popular DSLs include Jenkinsfile, GitLab CI YAML, and JSON for AWS CodePipeline. This code can then be versioned, reviewed, and adjusted following a team’s established development workflow. When changes are committed to the source code repository, a Continuous Integration (CI) system detects them and automatically triggers the pipeline, which in turn compiles, tests and deploys the updated application. As the pipeline code evolves together with the application itself, it keeps the entire process transparent, efficient, and in-sync.

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    Benefits of Using Pipeline as Code

    • Increased consistency and reliability: Managing your pipeline as code reduces the likelihood of human error and ensures that the delivery process stays consistent across environments and teams.
    • Better collaboration and version control: Pipeline as code enables developers to collaborate on the same codebase, review changes, and revert when needed, leveraging the benefits of version control offered by Git, SVN, or other version control systems.
    • Improved auditability and security: Encoding the deployment process facilitates auditing and ensuring compliance with industry regulations, as well as identifying and fixing security vulnerabilities.
    • Greater adaptability: Pipeline as code allows developers to adapt and modify the pipeline for different deployment environments and project requirements without any additional manual configuration.
    • Reduced lead time: Automating the pipeline as code dramatically slashes lead times (time between introducing a change and its deployment) and increases productivity by speeding up the delivery process.

    Pipeline as Code Use Cases

    Examples of pipeline as code applications include:
    – Creating multiple pipelines for different environments and stages, such as quality assurance and production
    – Managing a microservices-based architecture that requires the orchestration of multiple, interdependent components
    – Collaborating within a team or with external partners on a complex, multi-stage pipeline that requires continuous updates and improvements
    – Ensuring regulatory compliance and auditing by encoding the pipeline process within the source code

    Best Practices for Using Pipeline as Code

    When implementing pipeline as code, it is essential to adopt certain best practices to ensure maximum efficiency and reliability. First and foremost, the pipeline code should be concise, modular, and well-documented, enabling easy maintenance and collaboration. Teams should also implement continuous integration (CI) to detect and correct issues as early as possible, along with consistent, versioned environments across project stages. Moreover, providing automated, comprehensive testing ensures that code quality remains high, even as the development speed increases. Finally, incorporating monitoring and logging capabilities into the pipeline can help track performance, identify issues, and inform data-driven decisions.

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    Most Recommended Books about Pipeline as Code

    • Jez Humble and David Farley – Continuous Delivery: Reliable Software Releases through Build, Test, and Deployment Automation
    • Edgar Silva and Ítalo Vieira – Algorithmic Infrastructure for Continuous Deployment: By Example
    • Adrian Mouat – Using Docker: Developing and Deploying Software with Containers
    • James Turnbull – The Art of Monitoring
    • Gary Gruver – Starting and Scaling DevOps in the Enterprise


    In summary, pipeline as code represents a significant shift in software development—one that accelerates the delivery process, increases consistency and adaptability, and fosters collaboration among teams. By adopting pipeline as code, developers can leverage automation, version control systems, and domain-specific languages to enhance their workflows, resulting in higher-quality applications and more satisfied end-users. With these resources, best practices, and recommended reading, you should now be well-equipped to navigate the complex world of pipeline as code and reap its numerous benefits.

    Tags: automation, breakdown, ci/cd, code, definition.

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    Back in 2013, I founded Echo with the simple business idea: "Connect great tech companies around the globe with the brightest software engineers in Eastern Europe." We've employed hundreds of talents so far and keep going.
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    li profile Lou Reverchuk

    IT Entrepreneur

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