03/22/2017 Featured Cody Reichert

This post will walk through setting up a continuous integration, deployment, and testing pipeline for a Node.js app using CircleCI, Heroku, and Assertible.

Continuous integration is large part of modern development workflows. Most of us are familiar with basic CI services that automatically build code as new changes are pushed. But what if you took that a step further and not only built your code, but also deployed and tested it within the same pipeline? This is continuous development.

Continuous development pipeline

Let's outline the steps of the pipeline:

I've created an example Node.js app for the code in this post. In the end, you'll have a workflow that will automatically build, deploy, and test your app after every push.

Continuous integration with CircleCI

The pipeline is initiated when code is pushed to a repository on GitHub. CircleCI will automatically pull the new changes, build the code, and run the unit tests. Setting this up only takes two steps:

  1. Add a circle.yml to our repository. You can see the example app's config file in the nodejs-example repo on GitHub.
  2. Tell CircleCI to watch the project. This is done in your CircleCI dashboard, by adding projects

The .circle.yml file contains the commands used to build the code. Since the example app is written in Node.js, the default settings will work (npm install) and you don't need to do anything else.

Now, every time code is pushed to the GitHub repository, CircleCI will run the unit tests and fail if there are any issues:

CircleCI successful build

Continuous deployment with Heroku

After our code has been built and the unit tests have passed, CircleCI will look for a deployment step in our configuration. In the example app, I'm deploying the application to Heroku.

In the example project's circle.yml file, take a look at the deployment step again:

    branch: master
      # ...removed lines for brevity
      # Deploy the app to heroku
      - git push git@heroku.com:assertible-nodejs-example.git $CIRCLE_SHA1:refs/heads/master

This configuration tells CircleCI to deploy our application to production when you push to the master branch of the repo. The deployment is executed by running each step in commands.

This is continuous deployment: every time changes are pushed to the repo, CircleCI will build the app, and the deploy it to Heroku. Automatically. Every time. That's pretty cool!

Heroku deployment activity

For more on deploying to Heroku, check out the Continuous deployment with Heroku docs on CircleCI or Continuously testing Heroku GitHub deployments blog on Assertible.

Continuous testing with Assertible

After the application is deployed, you want to run automated integration tests on the new version to verify the release and test for critical API failures. To do this, you use Assertible.

Let's look at the last couple of lines in our circle.yml after deploying to Heroku:

curl -u $ASSERTIBLE_TOKEN: -XPOST --fail https://assertible.com/deployments -d'{
  "service": "'"${ASSERTIBLE_SERVICE_ID}"'",
  "environment": "production",
  "version": "'"${CIRCLE_SHA1}"'",
  "ref": "'"${CIRCLE_SHA1}"'",
  "github": true

This code makes request to the Assertible deployments API. When you send a deployment event to Assertible, your API tests are run against the live app. This is post-deployment testing, a part of automated QA testing.

In the test result below, you can see that Assertible ran tests and assertions against the new deployment. It even says what commit the deployment was from:

Post-deployment API testing result

Connecting Assertible to GitHub is easy! Just follow our GitHub Quick Start Guide.

Continuous testing is important for any team or developer releasing software. Automating API and QA tests not only saves time, but covers bugs and issues faster than traditional, manual testing methods.

Continuous testing is important for any team or developer releasing software. Automating API and QA tests saves teams time by identifying broken deployments without manual intervention and provides a baseline quality for your application.

Start building your CI pipeline
Assertible is free to use. Contact us if you have any questions or feedback!

Testing staging environments from Pull Requests

A lot of times you're not deploying to production, but rather to a staging environment or Heroku review app. Assertible knows about your different environments and will run your API tests on the correct URL.

When you deploy to a staging environment from a GitHub pull request, Assertible will show a status check for API test results that ensures all of your API tests are passing before the new changes are merged. Awesome!

GitHub status checks for continuous integration testing

Resources and examples

More automation and integrations

There's even more you can automate, check out some of these resources:

Have something to add? Let me know on Twitter!

Integration with other CI services

Nothing about this pipeline is specific to GitHub, CircleCI, Heroku, or even Assertible. Learn more about setting up this pipeline with different CI providers, like Wercker, in the assertible/deployments repo.

What does your continuous development workflow look like? Shoot us a message on Twitter and let us know! Check it out and sign up for a free Assertible account to start testing every single deployment!

Assuredly yours,
Cody Reichert


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