August 9, 2022

What Are GitLab Environment Variables

6 min read
What Are GitLab Environment Variables

GitLab environment variables for CI/CD can be defined and used with a lot of freedom. For managing jobs and pipelines, variables come in quite handy. They also prevent you from hard-coding values in the your.gitlab-ci.yml configuration file. By collecting together all (or the majority) of the information regarding defining and handling variables, the information in this post should weave a bigger picture and make it simpler to comprehend the scope and capabilities. The entire post contains links to pertinent documentation.

Variables in GitLab CI/CD can be used to define and store values to personalize jobs. There is no need to hard code values while utilizing variables. CI/CD variables in GitLab can be set by selecting Settings » CI/CD » Variables or by writing a simple definition for them in the the.gitlab-ci.yml file.

What Are GitLab Environment Variables

For configuring third-party services for various environments, like testing, staging, production, etc., variables are helpful. Change the variable that links to the API endpoint such services must use to modify the services connected to those environments. Use variables when configuring jobs as well as when running the jobs to make them available as environment variables.

Environments and Factors in The Relationship

Before releasing a product to people, software development as a process comprises testing phases. These stages are defined by environments, which can vary between teams and companies.

Variables, on the other hand, are data values that may change as a result of customer engagement with a product. Their next step in the product task flow may depend on factors like their age, preferences, or any other factor you can think of.

The phrase “environment variable” is frequently used. These are variables that are set up outside of the program, in a specific context. Developers can configure values in their code by using GitLab environment variables. It is advantageous to employ environment variables since they guarantee the code’s adaptability. Users can alter an application that has been deployed to a certain environment Using GitLab environment variables without changing any code. By altering a configuration environment variable outside the program, it is simple to perform tests or even incorporate third-party services.

Git Lab Environment Variables’ Range For.Git Lab-Ci. Yml-Defined Variables Used in Ci/cd

What Are GitLab Environment Variables

GitLab can be expanded with variables that are present in the working environment. These GitLab environment variables are designed to store non-sensitive project configuration in a the.gitlab-ci.yml file, such as RAILS ENV or DATABASE URL. Use this variable anywhere the value is required across many tasks or scripts. If the value changes, you only need to update the variable once, and all subsequent uses of the variable will also reflect the change.

Git Lab Environment Variables at The Group Level

CI/CD project variables

Beyond the constraints particular to the repository, you can declare CI/CD variables in project settings and make them accessible to CI/CD pipelines. Although they are not kept in the repository (and are not included in the.gitlab-ci.yml file), they can still be used in the CI/CD configuration and scripts. Token and password values can be kept private by storing the variables outside of the the.gitlab-ci.yml file.

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Group and Instance Variables for Ci/cd

Some variables are relevant for all projects within a group or instance, or even at the organizational level. Create the variables in the group or instance settings so that they can be used by all projects falling under those scopes without the need to know their values. A common value that needs to be updated in several projects, for instance, can be readily maintained if it is kept current in just one location. Alternately, several projects might share the same password without actually needing to know what it is.

Environments of Pipelines and Jobs

In addition to being utilized as environment variables, the GitLab CI/CD variables also operate in the.gitlab-ci.yml configuration file’s scope, independent of any environment. The variables can be made available to tasks in pipelines by storing them in project/group/instance settings.

For instance:

job:

rules:

If $CI COMMIT BRANCH is equal to $CI DEFAULT BRANCH

script:

– echo This task was carried out on the branch $CI COMMIT BRANCH.

The script section’s variable is used within the parameters of the task for which it was designed. This scope is the “job environment,” which means that the runner will launch a Docker container and run the job there when the job is launched. That variable will be made available to the task by the runner, along with any other predefined or custom variables, and it will be able to show their values in the log output if necessary.

To decide when the job should run, the variable is also utilized in the if clause. Because that is not an environment by itself, we refer to these variables as CI/CD variables. They can be used as environment variables during job execution as well as to dynamically set up your CI/CD jobs.

Predetermined Parameters

A GitLab CI/CD pipeline begins with a number of pre-configured variables. Without having to create the variables themselves, a user can easily get values for things like commit, project, or pipeline details.

Individual Ci/cd Variables

What Are GitLab Environment Variables

GitLab gives the user more configuration options when creating a CI/CD variable in the settings. For tighter regulation over more delicate factors, use the additional setup options listed below:

Environment scope: Set a variable such that it is only ever accessible in the environment that it will always be used. One deploy token, for instance, may be restricted to the production environment exclusively.

Protected variables: Much to the environment scope, a variable can be configured to only be accessible while the pipeline is running on a protected branch, such as your default branch.

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Secret-containing variables should always be masked. This enables you to use the variable in job scripts without having to worry about disclosing its value. It will only display as an echo [masked] in a task log if someone attempts to output it with a command like echo $VARIABLE. The kinds of values that can be concealed have a certain range.

By installing HashiCorp Vault as a managed application within a Kubernetes cluster, GitLab also enables its customers to use HashiCorp Vault to securely handle keys, tokens, and other secrets at the project level. Due to security concerns, this enables users to divide these secrets from other CI/CD variables.

Some apps need that configuration supplied to them in the form of a file. Simply set a CI/CD variable’s type to “File” if a user has an application that needs this setting. By setting up the CI/CD variable in this manner, the runner actually writes the variable out to a temporary file and stores the path to the file as the value when making the variable available in the environment. The path to the file can then be passed to any apps that require it by the user.

Along with the previously mentioned methods for creating and utilizing variables, GitLab has unveiled a feature that creates pre-filled variables from the.gitlab-ci.yml file when a variable needs to be overridden or a pipeline needs to be manually executed. Running the pipeline becomes simpler as a result, and the likelihood of encountering a mistake is decreased.

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