Sohan's Blog

Living the Developer's Life

Headless CI

Past few months at work we’re trying to revamp our CI infra. This has been a migration from a Jenkins cluster to GoCD. This post is a result of my frustrations with the state of CI in the age of Git/GitHub.

With Pull Requests, or a form of pre-merge review process, it’s common to leverage a few automated checks alongside our human peers to remove potentially breaking changes from being merged into the repo. These changes typically require a CI server and often multiple CI jobs/pipelines to check test run / coverage results, linting, or any other policy that can be automatically enforced.

This is where you need to integrate your GitHub/what have you with your GoCD or the likes. And it’s a time consuming task for any complicated project. You essentially, setup pipelines that are somewhat duplicate to be executed pre and post merge. The more I think about, the more it feels like the whole CI process should be a headless one, and deeply embedded within the code repo. This would save unneccessary hassles such as setting up user accounts / notifications across multiple systems, navigating between web interfaces to see important logs when things fail etc.

I like the direction GitLab is taking. They have made CI part of GitLab UI so you can see the code and its build status in the same place. I’d like other CI environments to do the same, or at least be a little app/plugin that you can add on top of GitHub - to blend within the GitHub experience such that it doesn’t feel like a foreign object.