About continuous integration

You can create custom continuous integration (CI) and continuous deployment (CD) workflows directly in your GitHub repository with GitHub Actions.

GitHub Actions is available with GitHub Free, GitHub Pro, GitHub Team, and GitHub Enterprise Cloud. For more information, see "GitHub's products."

In this article:

About continuous integration

Continuous integration (CI) is a software practice that requires frequently committing code to a shared repository. Committing code more often detects errors sooner and reduces the amount of code a developer needs to debug when finding the source of an error. Frequent code updates also make it easier to merge changes from different members of a software development team. This is great for developers, who can spend more time writing code and less time debugging errors or resolving merge conflicts.

When you commit code to your repository, you can continuously build and test the code to make sure that the commit doesn't introduce errors. Your tests can include code linters (which check style formatting), security checks, code coverage, functional tests, and other custom checks.

Building and testing your code requires a server. You can build and test updates locally before pushing code to a repository, or you can use a CI server that checks for new code commits in a repository.

About continuous integration using GitHub Actions

CI using GitHub Actions offers default workflows that build the code in your repository and run your tests on GitHub-hosted servers. Workflows run in virtual environments on cloud-hosted servers and have access to a clone of your repository. For more information, see "Virtual environments for GitHub Actions."

You can configure your CI workflow to run when a GitHub event occurs (for example, when new code is pushed to your repository), on a set schedule, or when an external event occurs using the repository dispatch webhook.

GitHub runs your CI tests and provides the results of each test in the pull request, so you can see whether the change in your branch introduces an error. When all CI tests in a workflow pass, the changes you pushed are ready to be reviewed by a team member or merged. When a test fails, one of your changes may have caused the failure.

When you set up CI in your repository, GitHub analyzes the code in your repository and recommends CI workflows based on the language and framework in your repository. For example, if you use Node.js, GitHub will suggest a template file that installs your Node.js packages and runs your tests. You can use the CI workflow template suggested by GitHub, customize the suggested template, or create your own custom workflow file to run your CI tests.

Screenshot of suggested continuous integration templates

In addition to helping you set up CI workflows for your project, you can use GitHub Actions to create workflows across the full software development life cycle. For example, you can use actions to deploy, package, or release your project. For more information, see "About GitHub Actions."

For a definition of common terms, see "Core concepts for GitHub Actions."

Supported languages

GitHub offers CI workflow templates for a variety of languages and frameworks.

Browse the complete list of CI workflow templates offered by GitHub in the actions/starter-workflows repository.

Notifications for workflow runs

If you enable email or web notifications for GitHub Actions, you'll receive a notification when any workflow runs that you've triggered have completed. The notification will include the workflow run's status (including successful, failed, neutral, and canceled runs). You can also choose to receive a notification only when a workflow run has failed.

You can also see the status of workflow runs on a repository's Actions tab. For more information, see "Managing a workflow run."

Status badges for workflow runs

Status badges show whether a workflow is currently failing or passing. A common place to add a status badge is in the README.md file of your repository, but you can add it to any web page you'd like. By default, badges display the status of your default branch (usually master). You can also display the status of a workflow run for a specific branch or event using the branch and event query parameters in the URL.

For more information, see "Configuring a workflow."

Further reading

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