Diving into DevOps

GitHub's New 'Actions' Adds CI/CD Features

GitHub unveiled an upgrade of its Actions workflow automation and customization solution today that comes with a new bundle of continuous integration and deployment (CI/CD) capabilities. The new version is now in beta.

Adding CI/CD to Actions, which debuted at last year's GitHub Universe event, was a direct response to strong user demand, said GitHub CEO Nat Friedman.

"Since we introduced GitHub Actions last year," Friedman said in a blog post, "the response has been phenomenal, and developers have created thousands of inspired workflows. But we've also heard clear feedback from almost everyone: you want CI/CD! And that's what we're announcing today."

The new Actions allows developers to automate build, test, and deploy their projects on a range of platforms, including Linux, macOS, and Windows. It allows them to run their workflows in containers or in virtual machines, and it supports a long list of languages and frameworks, including Node.js, Python, Java, PHP, Ruby, C/C++, .NET, Android, and iOS.

The bundle of new CI/CD features in this release includes matrix builds, which allow developers to test multiple versions of a project in parallel; live logs, which provide real-time feedback on the progress of builds as they run; the ability to edit, reuse, share, and fork GitHub Actions like code; the ability to publish and consume packages from the GitHub Package Registry and other registries; and the ability to automate additional tasks, such as triaging and managing issues, automating releases, and collaborating with the user base.

Another feature, suggested workflows, gives developers who are just getting started with CI/CD a leg up by suggesting workflows "that are appropriate for your project" when Actions are enabled for the developer's repository.

GitHub received kudos from many quarters for adding CI/CD capabilities to Actions. Jeroen Koops, a senior software engineer at Philips, and a GitHub customer, noted in a statement that the upgrade "empowers teams to define highly advanced pipelines without losing the focus on simplicity," and it "makes it possible to build and share workflows via reusable steps and delivers what's required to build the next-generation CI/CD pipeline."

Jim Rose, CEO of CI/CD development platform provider CircleCI, and a GitHub partner, also weighed in: "GitHub Actions is further validation that CI/CD is critical for the success of every software team," he said in a statement. "We believe that developers thrive in open, connected ecosystems, and we look forward to working with GitHub to lead the evolution of CI/CD."

Actions is free to the 40 million developers on GitHub to use with public repositories; for users of private repositories, there's a pay-as-you-go pricing plan. During the beta, Actions is free for everyone.

GitHub plans to make the new version of Actions generally available on Nov. 13 at the annual GitHub Universe event. In the meantime, developers can sign up for the beta here.

About the Author

John K. Waters is the editor in chief of a number of Converge360.com sites, with a focus on high-end development, AI and future tech. He's been writing about cutting-edge technologies and culture of Silicon Valley for more than two decades, and he's written more than a dozen books. He also co-scripted the documentary film Silicon Valley: A 100 Year Renaissance, which aired on PBS.  He can be reached at [email protected].