Continuous Integration and Systems Engineering

Systems Engineering Capstone

CI is helpful for more than running tests and pushing code to production. My team is currently using it to build continuous reports of our code to keep everyone updated with its status.

Anson Biggs https://ansonbiggs.com
10-04-2021

The Problem

Working on a complex project that spans multiple domains can be challenging for a small team. In addition, the small team size encourages every team member to keep entirely up to date on the inner workings of every system, but that can add a ton of overhead and make progress slow to a halt.

My Capstone team makes this even harder since all, but one of us are Astronautical Engineers. Astronautical is just a fancy way of saying, “Systems, but every problem is a satellite” so a project like ours with a massive Embedded software aspect can be challenging since the most crucial part of the project is essentially an enigma to a majority of the team.

So what we needed was a way for me to write code and to keep the rest of the team up to date without ever having to touch the code and ideally without me having to generate any kind of report manually.

The Solution

With Continuous Integration and a little Python, my GitLab repository automatically builds the latest code, runs the code, produces plots with the results, and makes an executable available if someone is inclined to run the code themselves. The automation means that the project readme is always up to date, and if anyone is wondering how progress is proceeding, they can check the readme and view the current performance in an accessible format.

The data availability is also excellent for when my team has to produce a progress report because there is never waiting on the person who can run the code and then build some plots. Unfortunately, the same can’t be said for the other sub-teams who usually have difficulty compiling their progress into a report.

The Result

All of the code being used for the Capstone is public, and the specific repository that I’ve been talking about can be accessed here: https://gitlab.com/lander-team/lander-cpp As you can see, the readme has charts that are always up to date. The .gitlab-ci.yml file contains all the build info, and you’ll likely be surprised how simple of a setup it is.

Citation

For attribution, please cite this work as

Biggs (2021, Oct. 4). Anson's Projects: Continuous Integration and Systems Engineering. Retrieved from https://projects.ansonbiggs.com/posts/2021-09-27-continuous-integration-and-systems-engineering/

BibTeX citation

@misc{biggs2021continuous,
  author = {Biggs, Anson},
  title = {Anson's Projects: Continuous Integration and Systems Engineering},
  url = {https://projects.ansonbiggs.com/posts/2021-09-27-continuous-integration-and-systems-engineering/},
  year = {2021}
}