Automating builds and testing with Jenkins

Now, I’m more than well aware that I’m on a well-trodden path here, but this is more as a reminder of some basic setup for future use.

With previous Rails projects I have undertaken, I have tried to incorporate the testing after a significant amount of the code has been written, making a serious test scenario unfeasible.

With my latest project, however, I’m taking the time to include testing from the get-go. So, with the first few models created I have taken the time – about 50% of the project time thus far – to get a set of successful model and controller tests; there may be a separate posting to cover this.

With testing in place and with GitHub being used as the SCM, I’m in a position to automate the build and test process. I’m thinking of deploying the application to a personal AWS account and building a pipeline to build and deploy after commits.

Anyway, using my Arch Linux desktop machine as the testing server, I installed Jenkins and started the service. I started working from the getting started guide at but didn’t fancy getting to grips with Groovy and the pipeline.

I found a simple guide for configuring Jenkins to build and deploy a Rails project and decided to see if I could a tangible result.

The Jenkins installation creates a user account with a home directory, /var/lib/jenkins, and to work with a Freestyle project we need a .bashrc to set up the environment for the build script.

TEST_SECRET_KEY_BASE="... random.charcters.for.secret.key..."
echo "Exported Rails and MySQL environment for $LOGNAME"

These are to match the environment references in the database and secrets YAML files from the repository; the last line is helpful for checking the console output.

The build script then becomes the following,


export RAILS_ENV=test
. $HOME/.bashrc

cd . # Force RVM to load the correct Ruby version

/usr/bin/bundle install
/usr/bin/bundle exec rails db:create db:schema:load db:migrate
/usr/bin/bundle exec rails test

Now, because I typically use rvm for the ruby install for my account, the gems required fo the application aren’t generally available. This means that the bundle command will require privilege escalation to install the gems and we need to permission the jenkins account needs an entry or two in /etc/sudoers (which can be removed after the first bundle has completed, but will be required for each new gem).

jenkins ALL=NOPASSWD:/usr/bin/bundle
jenkins ALL=NOPASSWD:/usr/bin/gem
jenkins ALL=NOPASSWD:/usr/bin/rake

And with all that in place we can ask Jenkins to build now and get a clean run and with  daily schedule for builds we can start on the development cycle making sure we continue to test as we go.

References – a basic guide (for Ubuntu) adapted for my setup


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