Overview of Jenkins, including its history, key features, and how it works.

Greetings! In this tutorial, we’ll dive into the exciting world of Jenkins. We’ll explore its rich history, delve into its powerful features, and learn about how it works, so you can get started with this essential tool in your development projects.

1. Overview of Jenkins

Jenkins is a game-changing open-source automation server that makes the lives of developers easier. It allows developers to automate parts of the software development process such as building, testing and deploying code, so they can quickly catch bugs and issues early on. What’s more, with a vast range of plugins available, Jenkins can easily integrate with other tools and services, extending its functionality even further. This tool is accessible to developers of all levels, thanks to its user-friendly web-based interface and easy installation process.

1.1 Jenkins history

Jenkins has a fascinating origin story. It all began with the Hudson project, a continuous integration tool created by Kohsuke Kawaguchi in 2004. Hudson quickly became a popular tool for developers, thanks to its ease of use and powerful functionality. By 2010, it had become a critical tool for many software development teams.

However, in 2010, a trademark dispute arose over the ownership of the Hudson name. Oracle, the new owner of Sun Microsystems, claimed ownership of the name, which Kohsuke Kawaguchi disagreed with. In response, he decided to fork the project and create a new tool under a new name, which he called Jenkins. The name Jenkins was chosen as a tribute to the butler character in the popular British television series, The Avengers.

Jenkins was released in 2011 and quickly gained a following among developers.

1.2 Key features

Jenkins has an impressive set of features, making it a must-have tool for any development project. Here are just a few of its key features:

  • Continuous Integration and Continuous Deployment (CI/CD): Jenkins enables developers to quickly and continuously build and test their code changes, allowing for faster feedback and more efficient collaboration.
  • Distributed Builds: Jenkins can distribute build tasks across multiple machines, improving performance and reducing build times.
  • Plugin Support: Jenkins has a large number of plugins available that can extend its functionality to perform a wide range of tasks, including integrating with other tools and services.
  • Extensibility: Jenkins is highly extensible and can be customized to meet the needs of individual teams, making it adaptable to a wide range of use cases and scenarios.
  • Easy Installation: Jenkins can be easily installed on any platform and can be set up quickly and easily.
  • Web-based Interface: Jenkins provides a user-friendly web-based interface that makes it easy to manage jobs and monitor build results.
  • Pipeline Support: Jenkins has powerful pipeline support that allows developers to define complex workflows and dependencies, streamlining the development process.
  • Automation: Jenkins can automate many tasks involved in the software development process, from building and testing to deployment and monitoring, freeing up valuable time for developers.
  • Scalability: Jenkins is highly scalable and can be used to manage large and complex software projects, so it grows with your business.
  • Open-source: Jenkins is open-source software, which means that it is free to use and can be modified and customized by anyone with programming knowledge, making it highly versatile.

1.3 How does Jenkins works?

Here is a simple explanation of how Jenkins works:

  • Code is committed to the source code repository.
  • Jenkins continuously monitors the repository for new changes.
  • When a new change is detected, Jenkins initiates a build process.
  • The build process involves compiling the code, running unit tests, and performing other necessary tasks.
  • If the build is successful, Jenkins deploys the new changes to the testing environment.
  • Automated tests are run on the testing environment to ensure that the new changes work as expected.
  • If the tests pass, Jenkins deploys the changes to the production environment.
  • Jenkins continues to monitor the production environment and the repository for new changes.

This process is known as continuous integration and continuous deployment (CI/CD) and is a key feature of Jenkins. By automating the build, testing, and deployment process, Jenkins allows developers to rapidly and safely deploy changes to their applications, resulting in faster feedback and more efficient collaboration.

Fig. 1: Jenkins workflow

1.4 Advantages and Disadvantages of Jenkins

Jenkins, an open-source automation tool, is widely used in software development to streamline and simplify the process of building, testing, and deploying code. While there are several advantages to using Jenkins, there are also some potential drawbacks to be aware of. Here’s a closer look at the pros and cons of using Jenkins:

1.4.1 Advantages

  • Streamlined CI/CD: Jenkins is specifically designed for Continuous Integration and Continuous Deployment, making it easier and faster for developers to build, test, and deploy their code. With Jenkins, developers can quickly receive feedback on their changes, leading to more efficient collaboration and faster time-to-market.
  • Flexible Plugin Support: One of the standout features of Jenkins is its extensive library of plugins. These plugins allow Jenkins to be customized to suit individual development teams’ unique requirements, making it one of the most flexible automation tools available.
  • Quick and Easy Setup: Jenkins is easy to install and set up on any platform. This makes it accessible to developers and organizations of all sizes, who can start using it quickly and without much hassle.
  • Highly Extensible: Jenkins is highly extensible, which means that developers can customize it to meet their needs. This adaptability makes it an ideal tool for a variety of use cases and scenarios.
  • Free and Open-Source: Being an open-source tool, Jenkins is free to use and can be customized and modified by anyone with programming knowledge. This not only reduces costs but also ensures the tool is always up-to-date with the latest development trends.

1.4.2 Disadvantages

  • Steep Learning Curve: While Jenkins offers a lot of customization and flexibility, it can be challenging for developers new to the tool or lacking experience with CI/CD. Jenkins requires a certain level of technical knowledge and expertise to use effectively.
  • Maintenance Burden: Jenkins servers can require a significant amount of time and resources to set up and maintain. Small development teams or organizations with limited resources may find this difficult to manage.
  • Resource Consumption: Jenkins can be resource-intensive and consume a lot of server resources, especially when running large or distributed builds. This can lead to performance issues, especially on less powerful machines.
  • Security Vulnerabilities: As an open-source tool, Jenkins can be vulnerable to security risks if not properly configured and secured. It is essential to follow best practices and maintain up-to-date security measures to ensure that Jenkins and the code it manages are secure.
  • Over-Reliance on Automation: Over-reliance on automation can lead to poor software development practices. While Jenkins can streamline and simplify the development process, it is still essential to balance automation with the need for human oversight and quality control.

1.5 Alternatives to Jenkins: Explore Your Options

While Jenkins is a popular choice for continuous integration and deployment, there are several other tools available that may better suit the needs of your team or organization. Here are some popular alternatives to consider:

  • GitLab CI/CD: If you’re already using GitLab for version control, this open-source tool could be a natural fit. It offers tight integration with GitLab’s version control system and provides a complete solution for continuous integration and deployment.
  • Travis CI: This cloud-based service supports a wide range of programming languages and platforms, making it a versatile option for teams with diverse needs. It also offers powerful features such as automatic parallelization and easy configuration.
  • CircleCI: As a highly scalable cloud-based service, CircleCI is a great option for teams that need to run large and complex builds. It supports both Linux and macOS environments and offers powerful customization options.
  • Bamboo: If you’re already using Atlassian’s suite of development tools, Bamboo may be a natural fit. This commercial CI/CD server provides tight integration with Jira, Bitbucket, and other Atlassian products.
  • TeamCity: As a powerful commercial CI/CD server from JetBrains, TeamCity provides advanced automation and integration capabilities. It also offers a range of plugins and integrations with other tools and services.

When considering alternatives to Jenkins, it’s important to carefully evaluate the needs of your team or organization and choose a tool that offers the right balance of features, ease of use, and cost. With so many great options available, there’s sure to be a tool that fits your needs perfectly.

That is all for this tutorial and I hope the article served you with whatever you were looking for. Happy Learning and do not forget to share!

2. Summary

Jenkins is an open-source automation server that allows developers to automate their software development processes, from building and testing to deployment and beyond. Its key features include continuous integration and continuous deployment (CI/CD), plugin support, and easy extensibility. While Jenkins can be challenging to learn and maintain, it remains an important tool for modern software development. In today’s fast-paced, competitive business environment, organizations need to be able to rapidly develop and deploy high-quality software, and Jenkins helps to facilitate this process by streamlining and automating many of the tasks involved.


An experience full-stack engineer well versed with Core Java, Spring/Springboot, MVC, Security, AOP, Frontend (Angular & React), and cloud technologies (such as AWS, GCP, Jenkins, Docker, K8).
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