CircleCI Acquires Ponicode to Gain AI Testing Tool

CircleCI today revealed it has acquired Ponicode to gain control over a unit testing platform infused with artificial intelligence (AI) that makes it simpler to review application code prior to uploading it into a build. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Jean-Philippe (JP) Leblanc, senior vice president of engineering at CircleCI, said the goal is to integrate Ponicode’s testing technology within CircleCI’s continuous integration/continuous delivery (CI/CD) platform. That approach will make it possible to apply algorithms to individual developers’ code as well as to code aggregated from multiple developers within a build as it is continuously updated across a DevOps workflow, he added.

Ponicode was initially launched in June 2020 as a JavaScript unit testing extension for Microsoft VS Code. Since then, the company has started to support TypeScript, Java and Python, including complex functions such as variable mocking and infer suggestions of complex structures for nested objects.

The issue that DevOps teams frequently encounter is that even when individual developers test their code prior to uploading into a build, integrating different developers’ code can still result in an application failure. The Ponicode AI testing tools will give both developers and IT operations teams more confidence in the quality of the code being employed to drive applications, noted Leblanc.

Although not many developers want to admit it, Leblanc noted there is still a lot of sloppy code finding its way into applications.

In addition, Leblanc said the Ponicode acquisition will help the code review process become more efficient. Instead of requiring another developer or dedicated tester review code, he said most issues will be surfaced by the AI ​​testing tool that provides the equivalent of a built-in peer review. As a result, AI testing tools will improve the overall quality of the code being used to drive applications, added Leblanc. Developers will also be able to spend more time on the business logic that drives their application than on code reviews.

The goal, however, is not to eliminate the need for dedicated testing teams as much as it is to augment them and the developers they work with, Leblanc said.

It’s not clear to what degree responsibility for testing code is shifting left toward developers. However, many developers would prefer to have issues surfaced via an AI tool so they could address issues on their own rather than having them discovered by someone else. In fact, there are already more than 20,000 users of the Ponicode AI tool that plugs directly into developers’ integrated development environment (IDE), said Leblanc.

In general, there’s never been a greater focus on developer productivity. Organizations are attempting to simultaneously build and deploy more applications than ever—thanks mainly to digital business transformation initiatives launched in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. The challenge they face is recruiting and retaining developers. As a result, organizations are looking for ways to increase developer efficiency by eliminating as many manual processes as possible.

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