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How to build a CI CD pipeline with GitHub Actions in four simple steps

environment variables

And with just that, you’ve set up an easily updatable and re-usable pipeline. Now all you have to do to set up a new service is to define which jobs you want to include in the .gitlab-ci.yml file. The CI/CD options from GitLab, in my opinion, do not seem to have the same level of support in the ecosystem for prebuilt items to help with continuous testing.

GitHub Actions does not have a paywall and the user is free to read the source code written by the plugin’s author. However, it doesn’t have traditional support and mainly relies on the community. Continuous Delivery is a step beyond Continuous Integration. Not only is your application built and tested each time a code change is pushed to the codebase, the application is also deployed continuously. However, with continuous delivery, you trigger the deployments manually. This might sound pretty basic, but the first step to building a CI pipeline with GitHub Actions is creating or choosing a repository on GitHub.

Turn code into software

Indeed, we follow strict guidelines that ensure our editorial content is never influenced by advertisers. So for companies wanting to keep their CI/CD code private, this makes using Github more difficult. The workaround for this is to clone a private repo with your reusable action definitions into your jobs, but that isn’t straight forward to figure out since you’re hacking around the system. GitLab uses an open core model, so its base functionality is open source. As a result, it’s probably the most widely used Git repository within corporate data centers, even though the CI/CD integration is not included in the open core.

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View pricingto see all GitLab tiers and features, or to upgrade. Select Run CI/CD for external repository and Repository by URL. GitHub copied a lot of Gitlab`s features, including CI .

Difference between GitLab CI and GitHub Actions Beta

You can also access a wealth of resources, such as documentation, tutorials, blogs, podcasts, or events, to stay updated, informed, and inspired. GitHub has an Actions Marketplace with thousands of actions ready to use. These actions allow us to improve our workflow with things like installing language environments, caching data between jobs, or deploying a project with just a couple of lines of code. This marketplace is a great advantage of GitHub over other services. And if you don’t find the action you need you can create your own action and publish it in the marketplace. If you add a .gitlab-ci.yml file to the root directory of your repository, and configure your GitLab project to use a Runner, then each merge request or push triggers your CI pipeline.

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Choosing the CI platform that’s best for your organization really comes down to your goals. CircleCI is arguably the best option overall, as it is purpose-built with CI/CD pipelines as its core focus. On the other hand, many organizations find that GitLab and GitHub meet all their needs. In addition, these solutions often work better for organizations that aim to simplify their support structures by utilizing fewer vendors.


Consider an application that has its code stored in a Git repository in GitLab. Developers push code changes every day, multiple times a day. For every push to the repository, you can create a set of scripts to build and test your application automatically. These scripts help decrease the chances that you introduce errors in your application.

Trigger your CircleCI pipelines from any event on GitHub with GitHub Actions. A simple GitHub action that will report deployments to Velocity. Ship to one or more cloud platforms with OpenID Connect.

  • Now that Microsoft owns GitHub, workflow patterns and integration seen in one product quickly find their way into the other.
  • Github is a great solution for one-off popular open-source projects.
  • We don’t allow questions seeking recommendations for books, tools, software libraries, and more.

See Joe Bourne’s annoucement “Self-hosted runners for GitHub Actions is now in beta”. (I hacked something together, but I’m not too sure about it). The quality and breadth of published GitHub actions is still pretty low / limited. You get image and layer caching (it’s complicated), but nothing else.

GitHub Galaxy 2023: Empower developer teams with a new developer experience,on the other hand, offers fewer services within its own program but offers ways to integrate with many outside programs and services. These include software thatGitHub has worked on to integrate with the serviceand hundreds of other programs viaGitHub Marketplace. Both GitHub and GitLab are based around the overarching Git distributed control system, but they do have different development approaches.

actions and gitlab

These files describe which events will trigger the workflow, the base operating system, and what jobs and steps will be run. Since pipelines can be treated as code defined within the code repository, YAML eases the switch between the two products. Azure DevOps and GitHub Actions may not have the exact same keywords, but they both share the structure in their workflow files.

This iterative process helps reduce the chance that you develop new code based on buggy or failed previous versions. With this method, you strive to have less human intervention or even no intervention at all, from the development of new code until its deployment. GitLab came later; Ukrainian developers Dmitriy Zaporozhets and Valery Sizov created GitLab in 2011.

Branches allow you to create separate versions of your code for different purposes, such as adding new features, fixing bugs, or experimenting with ideas. Merge requests enable you to propose, review, and merge changes from one branch to another, while keeping track of the history and feedback. This way, you can avoid conflicts, ensure quality, and collaborate with your team more effectively. Select the Let me select individual events option, then check the Pull requests and Pushes checkboxes.

Enabling continuous testing in GitHub Actions works much the same way as in CircleCI, except that a prebuilt container is often used for testing purposes instead of an orb. If GitHub’s CI offering is a viable option I would switch in a heartbeat since GitLab’s UI is pretty unintuitive at times. GitHub’s code review commenting and many other UI features are just much easier to use overall. Use container jobs to create consistent and reliable builds with the exact tools you need. Create new containers with ease and push them to any registry.

About monitoring and troubleshooting You can use the tools in GitHub Actions to monitor and debug your workflows. About packaging with GitHub Actions You can set up workflows in GitHub Actions to produce packages and upload them to GitHub Packages or another package hosting provider. Examples Example workflows that demonstrate the CI/CD features of GitHub Actions. Learn GitHub Actions Whether you are new to GitHub Actions or interested in learning all they have to offer, this guide will help you use GitHub Actions to accelerate your application development workflows.

You can start with a few simple things (like what’s highlighted above) to make your workflow a little easier. GitHub Actions takes a “choose-your-own adventure” type of approach to CI/CD. You’ll see it the first time you open GitHub Actions in a repository.

From day one, GitLab was designed to be a set of collaboration tools as well as a code repository service. ZDNET’s recommendations are based on many hours of testing, research, and comparison shopping. We gather data from the best available sources, including vendor and retailer listings as well as other relevant and independent reviews sites. And we pore over customer reviews to find out what matters to real people who already own and use the products and services we’re assessing.

Another example is running container image builds, which if you use Docker in Docker, requires you to set environment variables on the host . There is a very clean looking action to do Docker builds, but it lacks parallel builds and dynamic build-args, so my set up is better and I still need to run DIND myself. Selecting the best CI/CD solution can feel like a daunting task because there are lots of things to consider. All three options reviewed in this article will meet the needs of most developers who desire to improve the CI/CD pipelines that handle their builds, tests, and even deployments.


A gitlab ci cd vs github actions and the visual editor for main.workflows is perhaps a good way to model CI/CD in particular and workflows in general. The whole thing is a pretty thin wrapper around Docker anyway, so platform lock-in is arguably minimal. I’ve been working with GitHub actions full time for a couple of months now. Having a repository on GitHub and using an external CI tool has the huge benefit of allowing to move the repository to another Git repository platform without rewriting of the whole CI process. With GitHub Actions, you’re more or less tied to the GitHub ecosystem. Try GitLab for freewith access to all features for 30 days.

But, if programming is your company’s living, you’ll need more. WhenMicrosoft acquired GitHub in 2018, many expected a mass exodus of its users. To some, Microsoft will always be the Evil Empire, despite Microsoft’s constant showing its support for open-source methods and software — or how oftenMicrosoft CEO Satya Nadella says he loves Linux. While someusers did flee GitHub for GitLabandAtlassian BitBucketat the time, Microsoft taking over was never truly a huge factor for most.

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I suggest starting with their free plans to get an idea of how your workflow operates on each platform and then look into subscribing to the one that works best for you. They also both have command-line interfaces for advanced developers, and they also offer web-based interfaces for new programmers. ZDNET independently tests and researches products to bring you our best recommendations and advice.

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