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Jenkins 2.0 Goes Live

It's official: Jenkins 2.0 has arrived. Available today, this is the first major release of the open source continuous integration (CI) server in 10 years, and the excitement surrounding it is palpable. (Sorry, that was my Apple Watch telling me to stand up -- again.)

But seriously, this truly is an event. After 655 weekly releases, the once-controversial CI server has evolved into a continuous integration/continuous delivery (CI/CD) system that provides a flexible way to model, orchestrate and visualize the entire software delivery pipeline.

"Pipeline" is the key word here -- or rather "pipeline-as-code." With this release comes the first officially supported implementation of a domain-specific language (DSL) for the coding of pipelines for continuous delivery. The new Pipeline plug-in is designed to help Jenkins users model their software delivery pipelines as code that can be checked in and version-controlled along with the rest of their project's source code.

"Probably one of the most important changes in this release is that Jenkins can now understand and model a delivery pipeline, natively, which it couldn't do before," Jenkins community leader Tyler Croy told me last week. "For me as a practitioner and Jenkins administrator, the out-of-the-box defaults we've changed in this release are also important, especially for new users. New users of Jenkins are going to find it much easier to get set up with the tools they need, and Jenkins will be more secure out of the box."

Croy is a Jenkins evangelist and community manager at CloudBees (the chief commercial supporter of Jenkins), which means he gets to work on Jenkins full time. He's been a leader in this community since before the fork from Hudson, so he's seen most of its evolution. He told me that, among other things, Jenkins 2.0 represents some fundamental rethinking at CloudBees -- and by Jenkins creator Kohsuke Kawaguchi -- about how the CI/CD server is going to be developed going forward.

"This was the first time we've had a parallel branch of development -- literally, on Git -- to work on big features," Croy told me. "Kohsuke has been a big proponent of the agile development concept and getting changes out to users as quickly as possible and getting feedback. But it's been hard to step outside that release process and think about bigger initiatives we could tackle to improve Jenkins over the next five to 10 years. Incorporating some of the UI changes and improving the getting-started setup to make the out-of-the-box experience better, for example, were things we developed over the past five or six months in parallel with the weekly release cycle. We have the ability now to experiment, try new things, and take on bigger initiatives that are challenging and time consuming in that separated little space of Jenkins development."

Storage plugability improvements are at the top of the community's to-do list, Croy said. No committers to anything yet, but this is the type of project that can now be accommodated by this parallel Jenkins development process for bigger releases.

Continuous integration has almost become a default in the standard software development stack, Croy observed, and continuous delivery is heading in that direction, too.

"There was a time when source control management wasn't part of the stack," he said. "Now it's standard to use Git or Subversion, and if you don't, people look at you like you're crazy. The same is true now for CI, and the direction the industry is moving tells me that CD is going to become standard part of that stack, too. People are saying, great, you can build and test your software, but how do you deliver it to your customers? It's just a matter of time before CD is standard in the stack, too."

"My personal goal," Croy added, "is to make Jenkins vastly more usable and much better documented and easier to adopt by 2016. This is something that we've started to do in Jenkins 2.0, and I plan to continue focusing on that comprehensive user experience."

A detailed overview of the Jenkins 2.0 release is available on the Jenkins Web site. And there's some great documentation ("Getting Started with Pipeline") online.

Posted by John K. Waters on April 26, 2016