Getting Started with CI/CD - Creating Your First GitHub Action for a Ruby on Rails Repo

Welcome to my very first blog post on continuous integration for Ruby on Rails repositories! In this tutorial, we’ll be diving into the world of GitHub Actions, a powerful tool that can streamline your development workflow.

Why GitHub Actions?

GitHub Actions are an essential part of modern software development, allowing you to automate tasks, run tests, and deploy your applications seamlessly. The best part? GitHub offers runners for free, as long as you stay under a certain threshold, making it accessible for hobbyists, side hustles and teams that are on a tight budget.

Setting Up Your GitHub Action

Let’s get started with creating our first job that runs RSpec for our Ruby on Rails project. Note (1): This first example will be assuming you don’t need a database to run your tests. Note (2): Additionally, the following example will be assuming that Node is required to run said tests

Step 1: Adding a GitHub Action File

Begin by creating a new directory named .github/workflows in the root of your project. Inside this directory, create a file named rspec.yml. This is where we’ll define our GitHub Action.

Step 2: Defining the Action

Inside rspec.yml, add the following content:

name: Run RSpec Tests

      - main
        - opened
        - reopened
        - synchronize

    runs-on: ubuntu-latest

      - name: Checkout Repository
        uses: actions/checkout@v3

      - name: Set Up Ruby Environment
        uses: actions/setup-ruby@v2

      - name: Set Up Node
        uses: actions/setup-node@v3
         node-version-file: '.nvmrc'
         registry-url: ''

      - name: Install Dependencies
        run: bundle install --jobs 4 --retry 3          

      - name: Run RSpec
        run: bundle exec rspec

Let’s break down what each step does:

  • On Push Branches: This is one of the trigger events to run the job, in this instance it’s when you merge the PR to main
  • pull_request types - Another set of trigger events to run this job, in these instances it’s when a PR is open, reopened or you merge one branch into this one
  • Checkout Repository: This step ensures that your repository is available to subsequent steps.
  • Set Up Ruby Environment: This action sets up the specified version of Ruby for your project.
  • Set Up Node: We need Node.js for some Rails functionalities, so we set it up here.
  • Install Dependencies: This step installs both Ruby and Node.js dependencies.
  • Run RSpec: Finally, we run RSpec using bundle exec.

Step 3a: Testing Locally with act (optional)

I initially tried to use (act)[], a tool for testing GitHub Actions locally. However, I encountered a strange issue related to a missing NODE_PATH environment variable. I’ll be sure to update this post once I’ve resolved that.

Step 3b: Testing Remotely on GitHub

Create a git commit of your recent changes and push the branch to GitHub. Create a Pull Request and you should see at the bottom of the PR (on the Conversation tab), a GHA job that is running the rspec job we created. If all the rspec tests passed you should see something like the image below. GHA Job Result

Wrapping Up

Congratulations! You’ve just created your first GitHub Action for your Ruby on Rails project. This action will now automatically run your RSpec tests whenever you create a PR, reopen a PR or merge to the main branch.

Remember, GitHub Actions are highly customizable. You can tweak the workflow to suit your specific needs and even add deployment steps in the future.

I hope you found this tutorial helpful. Stay tuned for more articles on CI/CD and other exciting topics in the world of software engineering. Happy coding!

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