Automate your releases on GitHub.

Automate your releases on GitHub.

Pradumna Saraf
·Aug 18, 2022·

3 min read

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Table of contents

  • So, what are releases?
  • Why use them?
  • Why automate releases?
  • Using the workflow.
  • Working

So, what are releases?

Packaging/bundling software and making it available for a broader audience for download and use.

Why use them?

  • To distribute the software (Binary distribution).
  • To keep track of type and amount of changes.
  • To follow Semantic versioning practices.
  • To go back in time and use the previous version.
  • It looks professional.

Why automate releases?

Creating a release manually can be a little tricky and challenging at the same time. Using a GitHub workflow with a few lines of the YAML, we can automate that task and focus more on development. Alongside, it also generates a changelog file (CHANGELOG.md) and tags.

linkfree.png

Picture - EddieHubCommunity/LinkFree repo.

Using the workflow.

Create a .github folder inside the root of the repo. Create a folder name workflows inside the .github folder. Then create a releases.yml file by adding the YAML config provided below inside the workflows folder.

  • Complete path will be .github/workflows/releases.yml

YAML Config:

name: Releases
on:
  push:
    branches:
      - main

jobs:
  changelog:
    runs-on: ubuntu-latest

    steps:
      - uses: actions/checkout@v2
      - name: conventional Changelog Action
        id: changelog
        uses: TriPSs/conventional-changelog-action@v3.7.1
        with:
          github-token: ${{ secrets.github_token }}

      - name: create release
        uses: actions/create-release@v1
        if: ${{ steps.changelog.outputs.skipped == 'false' }}
        env:
          GITHUB_TOKEN: ${{ secrets.github_token }}
        with:
          tag_name: ${{ steps.changelog.outputs.tag }}
          release_name: ${{ steps.changelog.outputs.tag }}
          body: ${{ steps.changelog.outputs.clean_changelog }}

Understanding the config

  • To automatically trigger a workflow on some events, we use the on: property. In this case, action will get triggered when the changes are pushed to the main branch. We can also modify the branch according to our preferences
on:
  push:
    branches:
      - main
  • We will be running the workflow on Ubuntu OS. We can also change that
jobs:
  changelog:
    runs-on: ubuntu-latest
  • Here we are using two Actions. The checkout action will be used to checkout and go inside the repo, and the conventional-changelog-action will look for conventional commits. It will also create a changelog file.

By default, GitHub provides a default token github_token. We can also use a Personal access token.

    steps:
      - uses: actions/checkout@v2
      - name: conventional Changelog Action
        id: changelog
        uses: TriPSs/conventional-changelog-action@v3.7.1
        with:
          github-token: ${{ secrets.github_token }}
  • Here, we are using the create-release action, which will create an auto release for us depending on the convention of the commit used

It will auto-set the body and the release commit naming.

      - name: create release
        uses: actions/create-release@v1
        if: ${{ steps.changelog.outputs.skipped == 'false' }}
        env:
          GITHUB_TOKEN: ${{ secrets.github_token }}
        with:
          tag_name: ${{ steps.changelog.outputs.tag }}
          release_name: ${{ steps.changelog.outputs.tag }}
          body: ${{ steps.changelog.outputs.clean_changelog }}

Working

To make the workflow create the automated releases. We need to follow some commit conventions - Conventional Commits. Depending upon the convention used, it will version the new release.

semanticversioning-vZLYjPBL.png

  • fix: Will bump the last digit - patch.
  • feat - Will bump the middle digit - minor
  • BREAKING CHANGE: - It will bump the first digit by - major

I have also written a blog on Conventional Commits. You can check out that - Getting started with Conventional Commits

We are now all set. Now, when we create a commit with the proper convention, it will do all the magic for us.

That's the end of the blog. Thank you for reading it.

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