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GitHub joins the CI/CD fray: GitHub Actions automates workflow

Sarah Schlothauer
© Shutterstock / QiuJu Song

GitHub’s expansion continues with the announcement of GitHub Actions. Move beyond just code storage and into code testing as GitHub helps automate your workflow. The new feature is in beta, so in the meantime, what is the competition doing?

GitHub is a great place for code storage. But what about running that code? On October 17th, GitHub announced GitHub Actions.

Introducing Actions

In San Francisco, GitHub Universe 2018 unveiled some awesome things: the state of the Octoverse, build your own Octocat, and now GitHub Actions.

The new feature is similar to CI/CD and will help automate your workflow.

Workflows can be triggered by GitHub platform events (i.e. push, issue, release) and can run a sequence of serial or parallel actions in response. Combine and configure actions actions for the services you know and love built and maintained by the community.

Actions utilizes Docker containers running on their servers to build, package, release, update, and deploy. It also supports multiple languages and provides access to the open sources libraries available on GitHub.

SEE ALSO: Join to Octoverse-fest: JavaScript and Java steady as they go

GitHub Actions is currently in beta. It was shared with a small numbers of users whose work was shared during a Universe keynote.You can check out what they created with the help of Actions here. Don’t get too excited yet. While Actions is in beta, you can sign up and agree to a pre-release agreement, but this will only add you to a queue. During this limited beta, you can only configure workflows in your private repos. (As of writing this, I personally have not gained access to Actions, so assume the line is long! If you want to jump ahead in line, GitHub’s Tweet may grant you access if you are creative and innovative enough.)


Choices, choices, so many choices

How does the competition stack up?

This isn’t a new feature for the world of Git vendors, in fact, our favorite Octocat is just catching up to some of the pack. Of course, this allows for you to choose from a bounty of services instead of GitHub having a monopoly. The ability to choose is always a great thing, especially in the competitive world of programming!

GitLab has an integrated CI/CD feature that helps you deploy and monitor your code. It uses Docker containers as well, and allows for building your own system if desired. According to GitLab, it was rated #1 in the Forrester CI Wave in 2017. The Continuous Integration Tools, Q3 2017 report states, “GitLab delivers ease of use, scalability, integration, and innovation”. GitLab’s CI/CD is multi-platform, multi-language, stable, has realtime logging, and uses Docker containers.

Atlassian’s Bitbucket also offers Bitbucket Pipelines & Deployments for automating code. It features multi-language support for every platform, and the ability to leave feedback for your team. Once Actions is live, we will see how it compares to the other two popular Git vendors.

SEE ALSO: Jenkins gets new cloud flavor: Jenkins X promises to automate CI/CD and DevOps practices

Moving on to something that isn’t a Git vendor: what about Azure DevOps Pipelines by Microsoft? The service already includes GitHub integration. As Microsoft is currently in the process of acquiring GitHub, we will see what this means for both the Azure CI/CD and Actions as it comes out of beta. Will they be in direct competition of one another?

The waiting game

As of right now, there is no slated date for a general release of Actions. However, we look forward to seeing what this powerful service can provide. So far the previews are promising, the user interface is crisp, and it may just shake things up in the world of CI/CD-related services.

What do you think? Will you move over to Actions, stick with your old provider, or play the waiting game and see what happens?

Are you a lucky participant in the beta release? If you have any feedback to share with us, let your voice be heard!

Sarah Schlothauer

Sarah Schlothauer

All Posts by Sarah Schlothauer

Sarah Schlothauer is the editor for She received her Bachelor's degree from Monmouth University, West Long Branch, New Jersey. She currently lives in Frankfurt, Germany with her husband and cat where she enjoys reading, writing, and medieval reenactment. She is also the editor for Conditio Humana, an online magazine about ethics, AI, and technology.

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