UPDATED 14:36 EDT / AUGUST 08 2019

github CLOUD

With latest release, GitHub turns Actions into a competitive CI/CD service

GitHub today launched a new version of GitHub Actions that turns the offering into a powerful tool for automating software projects. 

Originally introduced last year, GitHub Actions enables developers to create workflows for handling repetitive tasks that normally require manual action. A workflow can, for example, launch a quality test when a user submits new code to a repository and send a Slack message to the repository manager if the code is accepted.

This type of project automation is commonly referred to as CI/CD, for continuous integration and continuous deployment. By reducing the need for manual code testing, software teams can move faster and release upwards of multiple updates per day. As part of today’s release, GitHub Actions is receiving a set of specialized CI/CD features that aim to make it easier for developers to realize such productivity gains.

One of the headline capabilities is matrix builds. Software teams can now test multiple versions of a project at once to parallelize their work and save time. In situations where testing follows a different rhythm, GitHub can automatically suggests relevant workflows from a pool of ready-made CI/CD automations.

A big part of the CI/CD software release process centers on the phase where a developer’s raw code is turned into a functioning program. GitHub Action now enables teams to track this workflow in real-time through a new monitoring console that checks off the individual steps after they’re completed. More importantly, it displays errors, which helps developers identify what’s wrong when the workflow stalls. 

“Live logs provide rich feedback into the progress of your builds as they run,” GitHub Chief Executive Nat Friedman (pictured) wrote in a blog post. “And you can deep-link to any line in any log file with a clean and simple permalink, making it easy for you to discuss a build failure or test result with a friend.”

The new version of GitHub also brings other enhancements, such customization options and ability to write workflows in the user-friendly YAML programming language. Further down the road, the Microsoft Corp. subsidiary plans to bring GitHub Actions to the paid Enterprise Server version of its platform it markets to corporate users.

The new GitHub Actions is currently in beta with general availability slated for Nov. 13. 

Photo: GitHub

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