In recent years, DevOps has established itself as a formidable force in the software world. By bridging the gap between development and IT operations teams, DevOps has brought speed, efficiency, and quality to software development. It enabled IT businesses to adopt agile software delivery methodologies like Continuous Integration and Continuous Delivery (CI/CD).
However, despite gaining universal popularity, the road to successful DevOps adoption remained bumpy. Many organizations struggle to implement optimal automation across the software development lifecycle (SDLC), from build, integration, and testing to delivery and deployment. Accordingly, harnessing the full potential of the CI/CD pipeline remained elusive. At this juncture, Jenkins has emerged as an indispensable tool teams to help DevOps achieve automation goals.
So, What Is Jenkins?
Jenkins is the most popular open-source automation server available in the market. It facilitates continuous integration (CI) and continuous delivery (CD) in software development by imbibing automation across build, test, and deployment.
As a robust automation server, Jenkins can be leveraged as a simple CI servicer or used as a CD hub for any software project. Implementing CI/CD through Jenkins enables developers to ensure a high level of code quality and successful builds. It also empowers DevOps teams to rapidly identify and rectify issues. For instance, if a code commit introduces a flaw into the build, Jenkins not only helps in identifying it immediately but also in knowing which code caused the issue. The sub-optimal code can then be isolated, rectified, and recommitted swiftly.
In a nutshell, Jenkins helps automate any of the phases of SDLC, from development to deployment and monitoring.
Apart from these enticing benefits, the primary USP that drives the demand for Jenkins is its extensive list of plugins. With over 1800 community-contributed plugins, Jenkins has gone the extra mile to cater to the evolving needs of the DevOps ecosystem. So, what are plugins? What benefits do they offer? Let’s look into it!
What Are Plugins in Jenkins?
By default, Jenkins comes with a finite number of features. It may not integrate with every tool used in the SDLC. Here comes the role of plugins.
Plugins extend the functionalities and capabilities of Jenkins to make it suitable for all user-specific needs. These plugins encompass source code management, administration, platforms, UI/UX, building management, and much more. They help Jenkins integrate with practically every tool in the CI/CD toolchain.
For instance, if you want to integrate Jenkins with version control tools like Git, plugins related to Git let you do that. On the other hand, for integration with tools like Maven, Amazon EC2, respective plugins must be installed in your Jenkins.
However, with a plethora of plugins present, it could be a herculean task for choosing which plugins to use. Selecting the best plugins, especially when each one is unique and excellent in its own way, is arduous. Browsing through all 1800+ plugins will be a tough row to hoe. Fret not! We are here to help you choose the best Jenkins plugins for DevOps.
Our DevOps experts have carefully curated a list of the top 10 Jenkins plugins that should be on your radar in 2022. Read on to know how you can orchestrate them for continuous integration:
Top 10 Best Jenkins Plugins for DevOps
1) Git Plugin for Jenkins
Among the extensive list of plugins for Jenkins, the Git plugin holds a prominent position. As the name suggests, it facilitates essential git functions for Jenkins projects. It offers Git operations such as pulling, fetching, checking out, branching, listing, merging, tagging, and pushing repositories. Git plugin has the functionality, performance, security, and flexibility that the DevOps teams need.
It serves as a Distributed Version Control DevOps tool that supports distributed non-linear workflows by providing data assurance for developing quality software. Moreover, it enables access to GitHub as a Source Code Management (SCM) system, which acts as a repository browser for many other providers.
2) Jira Plugin for Jenkins
Jira plugin is one of the most popular and sought-after ticketing tools. It is an open-source plugin that integrates Jenkins with the Atlassian Jira Software (both Cloud and Server versions), enabling the DevOps teams more visibility into the development pipeline. This plugin also allows you to display builds inside Jira, automatically send data about builds and developments from Jenkins to Jira, and track Jira issues in Jenkins, among other vital functions.
However, one ought to use a Jira service account instead of a personal account for leveraging the Jira plugin.
In order to configure the Jira plugin, one must add Jira sites in Jenkins, then the plugin will automatically hyperlink all the corresponding issue names to Jira.
3) Kubernetes Plugin for Jenkins
It is no surprise that the Kubernetes plugin holds a spot in the list of plugins for Jenkins. However, running multiple projects simultaneously on Jenkins can be a tough row to hoe as it doesn’t facilitate great server scalability. This is where the Kubernetes plugin comes in.
This plugin integrates Jenkins with Kubernetes. It enables developers to automate the scaling process of running Jenkins slaves in the Kubernetes environment.
This plugin integrates Jenkins with Kubernetes. It enables developers to automate the scaling process of running Jenkins slaves in the Kubernetes environment. It is excellent for running dynamic agents on the Kubernetes clusters. More importantly, it dynamically creates Kubernetes Pods for each agent defined by the Docker image to run and terminate it after the build is completed.
To configure this free plugin, one must add the Kubernetes cluster in the Jenkins configurations. Then, navigate to Manage Jenkins -> Configure System -> Cloud -> Kubernetes to set up this plugin. In fact, if Jenkins is running on the cluster, the default configuration values can be used.
4) SonarQube Plugin for Jenkins
SonarQube plugin enables easy integration of SonarQube with Jenkins. SonarQube is the open-source tool for Continuous Inspection of code quality. So, the SonarQube plugin helps DevOps teams to identify bugs, vulnerabilities, and duplication and ensure code quality before building code automatically with Jenkins. In addition, the integration enables you to analyze the code when you run a job that contains SonarQube execution within it. It also generates an analysis of that code in the SonarQube Server.
Navigate to Manage Jenkins –> Manage Plugins > Available –> SonarQube to install the SonarQube plugin. Moreover, include credentials plugins to store your credentials in Jenkins.
5) Docker Plugin for Jenkins
Docker plugin is one of the top Jenkins plugins for enhancing DevOps. This plugin allows one to spawn Docker containers and run builds on them automatically. With this plugin, DevOps teams can use a Docker host to dynamically provision a docker container as a Jenkins agent node that runs a single build. The node can be terminated without the build process needing any awareness of Docker.
Jenkins can be configured with knowledge of one or more docker hosts and templates. Then, it can run Docker containers to offer Jenkins Nodes on which Jenkins can run builds.
6) Maven Integration Plugin for Jenkins
Although Jenkins has in-built support for Maven, it still lacks advanced integration features. Maven Integration plugin does the needful. This plugin offers advanced integration of Maven 2/3 projects with Jenkins. The functionalities of this plugin are as follows:
- Automatic configuration of reporting plugins such as Junit and Findbugs
- Automatic triggering across jobs on the basis of SNAPSHOTs published or consumed
- Incremental builds
- Parallel build modules on multiple executors or nodes
- Post-build deployment of binaries, if all tests are passed, and the project is succeeded
To install the Maven Integration plugin, go to Manage Jenkins -> Select Manage Plugins -> Available -> Maven Integration plugin.
7) Amazon EC2 Plugin for Jenkins
Amazon EC2 plugin enables Jenkins to initiate agents on EC2 (or Eucalyptus) and terminate when they get obsolete. When the build cluster is overburdened, Jenkins – with this plugin – starts instances using the EC2 API and connects them as Jenkins agents. The excess EC2 instances will be killed once the load becomes normal. In this way, the DevOps teams can maintain an in-house cluster, then move the excess build/test loads into EC2. Moreover, this plugin helps in copying artifacts and managing the load for Jenkins.
To install this plugin, go to Manage Plugins -> Available -> Amazon EC2 -> Download now and install after restart. Once the installation is complete, restart Jenkins.
8) Build Pipeline Plugin for Jenkins
Build Pipeline plugin is another interesting Jenkins plugin that secured a spot in the top 10 list. It allows DevOps teams to view all the upstream and downstream connected jobs within the build pipeline. With this plugin, manual triggers can be defined for jobs that need intervention before execution. The Build Pipeline plugin also helps you view the history of pipelines, the present status, and where each version got into the chain based on its revision number in VCS.
To install the build pipeline plugin, go to Jenkins -> Manage Jenkins -> Build Pipeline Plugin.
9) Blue Ocean Plugin for Jenkins
Blue Ocean Plugin is one of the few Jenkins plugins that enticed the DevOps ecosystem with unique features. Designed for Jenkins Pipelines, this plugin enhances user experience by axing clutter and improving visibility. The following are the key features offered by the Blue Ocean plugin:
- Deep visibility into CD pipelines for the swift understanding of software pipeline status
- Guiding the users to develop a pipeline and making automating CD pipelines approachable
- Customizing Jenkins UI on par with the needs of DevOps teams
- Accurate detailing of where in the pipeline issues sprout, thereby facilitating swift response and increased productivity
- Maximizing DevOps teams’ productivity by facilitating native integration for branch and pull requests
To install the Blue Ocean plugin, navigate to Manage Jenkins -> Manage Plugins -> Blue Ocean plugin.
10) Mailer Plugin for Jenkins
The final plugin in the list of the best 10 Jenkins plugins is here. The mailer plugin enables the DevOps teams to configure email notifications and alerts for build results. In addition, the plugin offers some advanced options for configuration such as SMTP authentication, SSL, TLS, SMPT Port, Reply-To Address, and Charset.
Troubleshooting: What To Do if Jenkins Plugins Are Not Installing?
While installing Jenkins plugins, you may often encounter installation troubles. Some of the common Jenkins plugins installation problems are given below:
The Jenkins Plugin Is Abnormal During Initialization
There may be two common reasons for this issue:
1) The Jenkins version is outdated, and the particular plugin cannot be used.
2) The plugin cannot be installed due to network or wall problems.
In the first case, you must download the latest Jenkins version and, in the second instance, change the plugin proxy source.
The Plugin Cannot Be Found, or the Installation Fails
The reasons for this issue are the same as the above one. In this case, you must manually download relevant plugins from the Jenkins plugin’s official website. After the download is complete, you can upload it manually.
These are just a couple of issues DevOps teams face while installing Jenkins plugins. However, with so many plugins required for seamless DevOps workflow, one may unwittingly find themselves in the crosshairs of installation issues.