This is the first post in our “Tools From the Kit” series. To see more posts in the series, checkout our introductory post.
If there is one tool that our engineering staff cannot live without, its most certainly GitLab. If your familiar with GitLab, then you probably know about it being a GitHub like tool that you can host on your own server, entirely for FREE! What you might not be aware of is that GitLab, the company, wants to build GitLab, the product, into a suite of tools to manage your entire engineering flow.
What is GitLab
If you’ve heard of GitLab in the past, you’ve probably heard about it as an open-source and free alternative to GitHub. I’m not going to say that it isn’t that, but to say it’s only a Git server is a mistake. Looking at GitLab’s 2016 Year In Review, you’ll see that GitLab want’s to a complete suite of tools for engineers to build, deploy and monitor software with. GitLab’s most recent 8.16 release brought with it the ability to monitor applications with Prometheus and deploy apps on Google Container Engine.
How has GitLab improved life at Cage Data
GitLab has been running at Cage Data for the past two years and we’ve loved it. Our GitLab environment uses their community edition Docker image, and updates to the application are totally painless. The best part of GitLab that separates it from other Git platforms is the continuous integration system. For all projects that Cage Data works on we minimally have code style guides that we adhere to and test suites to ensure that the software will work. GitLab CI makes it easy to add continuous integration to our projects. Designed similarly to Travis CI, GitLab CI uses a configuration file dropped into a project’s repository to configure the CI environment. The typical configuration file that we use is under 60 lines to run all tests for our projects, ensure that the code adheres to the style guides, package the software and deploy it to wherever it needs to be deployed.
What does the future look like for GitLab
Cage Data is certainly not leaving GitLab anytime soon. More and more of our technicians are beginning to use Git to keep track of common scripts that we use for managing systems for our clients. Being able to run those scripts through the continuous integration system means that GitLab will be in use for years to come at Cage Data.
It doesn’t look much different for the GitLab team as well. They continue to innovate and build tools into their platform that we are excited to use at Cage Data and in our clients environments.