My GitLab CI CD Pipeline overview
Jul 18, 2018
3 minutes read

My pipeline

This is a continued post from Creating a CI & CD pipeline with GitLab, Rancher and Digital Ocean.

So, I am using the following tools:

GitLab is an alternative to GitHub. I’ve been trying it out for about 6 to 8 months and finding it very well thought out and fully featured. The main bonus is that you can host it yourself so your code can be truly private and controlled. The features I’m using for my pipeline are:

  • The repository (obviously)
  • The docker registry
  • The Build service
  • The integration services

Linting and test runners

In a basic overview I do the following:

Commit code =>
    push to gitlab =>
    run linter =>
    run tests =>
    build docker image =>
    push to registry =>
    hit Rancher API to inform there is an image ready and waiting

If my linting, unit tests or UI tests fail, then the build fails. The first to fail will stop the pipeline jobs and report as a failure. With GitLab I use Cypress for my UI tests and this allows me to save images and videos of failed tests as artifacts for the time specified of my liking. So, if a build fails on UI tests, I will save them for 7 days and after that GitLab will remove them automatically. \o/

A snippet of a current project I am working on:

    image: node:8.11
    stage: linting
        - test
        - npm install
        - npm run lint

    image: node:8.11
    stage: test
        - npm install
        - npm run test::unit
        - test

    image: cypress/base:10
    stage: test
        - npm install
        - npm run build
        - npm start --quiet > /dev/null &
        - npm run test::ui
        when: on_failure
        expire_in: 1 week
            - ./__tests__/UI/cypress/screenshots
            - ./__tests__/UI/cypress/videos
        - test


Next is the Docker image for my application/site. Using secret keys stored in GitLab, it will login to the configured registry, build the image locally and then push the image to it’s registry.

    stage: build
    image: docker:stable
        - docker:dind
        - docker login -u gitlab-ci-token -p "${CI_BUILD_TOKEN:-$CI_JOB_TOKEN}" $CI_REGISTRY
        - docker build -t $DEVELOPMENT_IMAGE_TAG .
# This will overwrite the tag with the latest build!
        - docker push $DEVELOPMENT_IMAGE_TAG
        - build

In the preceding code, I am using Docker to build a Docker container via the dind service (Docker in Docker), this allowed me to do what I needed to do, but be aware of this article.


I am then running three scripts, docker login, docker build and docker push. I am using the secret - and built in - variables which are prefixed with CI_, then I have my own variables defined at the top of my file to allow me to create images tagged with the branch name for demos and a timestamp for staging and production. I then use that same tagged image to push it to the registry that is already configured.

    - export TARGET_STACK=gitlab-demo-stack
    - export REVIEW_TARGET_STACK=gitlab-demo-stack--review
    - export REVIEW_FRONTEND_URL=review.demo.local
    - export BRANCH_REVIEW_FRONTEND_URL="${CI_COMMIT_REF_NAME}.review.demo.local"
    - export VERSION=$(date +%Y.%m.%d.%H.%m)

All this information is contained in a file .gitlab-ci.yml (view example) which lives in the root of my project. There are two different build versions of this I am currently setting up:

  • review: Builds and pushes a branch tagged version of the app
  • uat: Builds and pushes a staging version for viewing/testing several features that are merged together

The next part will be setting up GitLab on Digital-Ocean for your personal/business usage.

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