Gartner Research

Use Trunk-Based Development for Agility and Continuous Delivery

Published: 29 April 2020

ID: G00465274

Analyst(s): Sean Kenefick


Application technical professionals must limit their use of long-lived branches and instead use a single mainline of source code to succeed with continuous delivery. Using trunk-based development, developers spend less time merging and stabilizing source code and more time delivering functionality.

Table Of Contents

Problem Statement

The Gartner Approach

The Guidance Framework

  • Prework
    • Upgrade to Git
  • Step 1: Use a Single-Branch Strategy
    • The Traditional Way: Feature Branches
    • The Better Way: The Single Branch
  • Step 2: Use a Modern Architecture That Allows for Deployment in Isolation
    • Test in Isolation
    • Design Applications for Testability
  • Step 3: Implement Feature Toggling
    • The Difference Between Releasing Functionality and Deploying Functionality
  • Step 4: Adopt Continuous Development Patterns
    • Enforce Quality Gates
    • Continuously Test Toggled Functionality

Risks and Pitfalls

  • Teams Find It Difficult to Maintain a Stable Mainline
  • Teams Must Properly Manage Toggles
  • Git Has Scaling Problems With Branches
  • Teams Don’t Have Control of Their Overall Architecture

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