Get Started With CI/CD Using GitHub Actions

Get Started With CI/CD Using GitHub Actions

In this introduction to GitHub Actions, we’ll explore how to build and deploy a Python Flask application to AWS Elastic Beanstalk.

Welcome to the first part of a series of articles comparing CI/CD platforms. To help evaluate, compare and contrast the tools currently dominating the market, the goal will be to automate the deployment of a Flask application onto AWS Elastic Beanstalk. A new deployment will need to occur after every push to main branch, and during the series this same requirement will be implemented across a multitude of CI/CD tools.

First up, part 1 will focus on GitHub Actions, where the support for CI/CD was first announced in August 2019. I’ll document the steps taken along the way to achieve the goal with GitHub Actions, and there’s a write up of the positives and negatives in a conclusion at the end of this article.

Our application

The Flask application

Our Flask application is a simple “Hello World” example, and for the purposes of demonstrating running unit tests within the pipeline, we have included a test case as well.

AWS Elastic Beanstalk

Our Flask application is going to be deployed to AWS Elastic Beanstalk which is a service that automates the deployment and scaling of a web application. It takes in our source code and takes care of all the infrastructure configuration.

There’s a handy CLI for Elastic Beanstalk, and ultimately we’re going to automate the following commands into our pipeline. However, these are just for reference and you do not need to run these now.

$ eb init -p python-3.6 hello-world --region us-east-1
$ eb create hello-world-env

Introduction to GitHub Actions

Introduction to GitHub Actions…

  • An event *will trigger a *workflow.
  • workflow *contains one or more *jobs.
  • job *is executed on a *runner *and will contain one or more *steps.
  • A *step *will contain a single *action *or a series of inline commands.
  • The run can generate artifacts *and use a *cache.

Runner

A job _runner _is any machine with the GitHub Actions Runner Application installed — these machines can be GitHub-hosted or you can run your own.

GitHub-hosted runners are virtual machines — Linux (Ubuntu), Windows, and macOS — and are fully managed by GitHub and come with a lot of installed software. For example, the image for Ubuntu comes armed with multiple libraries, including the AWS CLI and Google SDK. As part of the free-tier, GitHub provides 2,000 minutes per month of its hosted runners.

The runner is defined in the workflow yaml with the runs-on property.

devops aws github-actions elastic-beanstalk continuous-delivery

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