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GitLab ChatOps

GitLab ChatOps provides a method to interact with CI/CD jobs through chat services like Slack. Many organizations' discussion, collaboration, and troubleshooting takes place in chat services. Having a method to run CI/CD jobs with output posted back to the channel can significantly augment your team's workflow.

How GitLab ChatOps works

GitLab ChatOps is built upon GitLab CI/CD and Slack Slash Commands. ChatOps provides a run action for slash commands with the following arguments:

  • A <job name> to execute.
  • The <job arguments>.

ChatOps passes the following CI/CD variables to the job:

  • CHAT_INPUT contains any additional arguments.
  • CHAT_CHANNEL is set to the name of channel the action was triggered in.

When executed, ChatOps looks up the specified job name and attempts to match it to a corresponding job in .gitlab-ci.yml. If a matching job is found on master, a pipeline containing only that job is scheduled. After the job completes:

  • If the job completes in less than 30 minutes, the ChatOps sends the job's output to Slack.
  • If the job completes in more than 30 minutes, the job must use the Slack API to send data to the channel.

To use the run command, you must have Developer access or above. If a job shouldn't be able to be triggered from chat, you can set the job to except: [chat].

Best practices for ChatOps CI jobs

Since ChatOps is built upon GitLab CI/CD, the job has all the same features and functions available. Consider these best practices when creating ChatOps jobs:

  • GitLab strongly recommends you set only: [chat] so the job does not run as part of the standard CI pipeline.
  • If the job is set to when: manual, ChatOps creates the pipeline, but the job waits to be started.
  • ChatOps provides limited support for access control. If the user triggering the slash command has Developer access or above in the project, the job runs. The job itself can use existing CI/CD variables like GITLAB_USER_ID to perform additional rights validation, but these variables can be overridden.

Controlling the ChatOps reply

The output for jobs with a single command is sent to the channel as a reply. For example, the chat reply of the following job is Hello World in the channel:

hello-world:
  stage: chatops
  only: [chat]
  script:
    - echo "Hello World"

Jobs that contain multiple commands (or before_script) return additional content in the chat reply. In these cases, both the commands and their output are included, with the commands wrapped in ANSI color codes.

To selectively reply with the output of one command, its output must be bounded by the chat_reply section. For example, the following job lists the files in the current directory:

ls:
  stage: chatops
  only: [chat]
  script:
    - echo "This command will not be shown."
    - echo -e "section_start:$( date +%s ):chat_reply\r\033[0K\n$( ls -la )\nsection_end:$( date +%s ):chat_reply\r\033[0K"

GitLab ChatOps examples

The GitLab.com team created a repository of common ChatOps scripts they use to interact with our Production instance of GitLab. Administrators of other GitLab instances may find them useful. They can serve as inspiration for ChatOps scripts you can write to interact with your own applications.

GitLab ChatOps icon

The official GitLab ChatOps icon is available for download. You can find and download the official GitLab ChatOps icon here.

GitLab ChatOps bot icon