Build failure rate

What is build failure rate?

Build failure rate is a software engineering metric that quantifies the ratio of automated builds that fail compared to the total number of builds attempted over a given period. To calculate this rate, you divide the number of failed builds by the total builds executed and then multiply the result by 100 to get a percentage. This metric provides a clear indicator of the health and stability of the software development process, particularly in environments where continuous integration (CI) systems automate the building and testing of code.

Why is build failure rate important?

Early detection of integration issues. The build failure rate is crucial because it helps teams detect problems early in the development process. High failure rates may indicate integration issues, configuration errors, or widespread defects in the codebase. Addressing these issues early can save time and resources, and reduce the risk of major disruptions in later stages of development.

Enhances developer productivity. A lower build failure rate typically correlates with higher developer productivity. When builds frequently fail, developers must often pause their current work to address these failures, which disrupts their workflow and focus. By keeping the build failure rate low, teams can ensure that developers spend more time writing new features and less time fixing bugs.

Improves release reliability. Monitoring and managing the build failure rate can directly impact the reliability of software releases. A low failure rate increases confidence that new versions of the software are stable and function as expected. This reliability is essential for maintaining user trust and satisfaction in a competitive market.

What are the limitations of build failure rate?

Lacks context on failure impact. Build failure rate, while useful, does not provide insight into the impact or severity of a build failure. Some failures might be critical and affect major features, while others might be minor and easily fixable. This lack of granularity can make it difficult to prioritize fixes based on the build failure rate alone.

Does not indicate root causes. Although this metric shows how often builds fail, it does not reveal why they fail. Development teams must conduct further analysis to identify the root causes of failures, which might involve issues with code quality, build scripts, dependencies, or environmental factors.

Potential for false positives. Sometimes, a build might fail due to reasons unrelated to the code itself, such as network issues, faulty build servers, or misconfigurations in the build environment. These false positives can skew the build failure rate, making it seem higher than it actually is due to issues that do not reflect the quality of the codebase.

Metrics related to build failure rate

Build duration. Build duration measures the time it takes to complete a build process. It is closely related to build failure rate because longer build times can increase the likelihood of failures due to factors like timeouts and resource constraints. Optimizing build duration can help reduce build failure rates by ensuring builds are not only faster but also less prone to errors caused by prolonged execution times.

Test pass rate. The test pass rate is the percentage of automated tests that pass during the build process. This metric is directly related to the build failure rate because failing tests often result in failed builds. Monitoring test pass rates provides insights into the stability and reliability of the codebase, helping teams identify problematic areas that might lead to increased build failures.

Deployment success rate. Deployment success rate measures the proportion of successful software deployments to production environments. It is related to build failure rate as successful builds are more likely to lead to successful deployments. A higher build failure rate can decrease the deployment success rate, indicating problems in the development or build processes that, if left unaddressed, could affect the stability of production systems.

Start tracking your software development metrics

Connect your tools and visualize your data in minutes. When you sign up, you’ll get immediate access to your data. No demo or sales calls.