The CI/CD and DevOps Blog

Ambarish Chitnis

Recent Posts

CI/CD For Microservices Using Monorepos

We wrote a very popular blog a little over a year ago, detailing the reasone behind our choice of organizing our microservices codebase in a single repository called a mono repo. 

Since then, we've often been asked - how do you set up a CI/CD pipeline for a mono repo? When a code change to the repository triggers CI, how does your CI know which microservice changed so that it can rebuild and test just that service?

In this blog, we will demonstrate how the Shippable platform makes it simple to independently build, test and deploy microservices from a mono repo. For simplicity,  we will use a monorepo sample (that you can fork) that consists of just two microservices, and create a CI/CD pipeline with Amazon ECR and ECS. 


  • Our Node.js application has two microservices: a front-end microservice www that makes API calls to a backend API microservice called api. The source code for both microservices is in separate folders in a mono repo.

  • Each microservice is packaged as a Docker image during the build process and has its own independent unit tests.

  • Each Docker image is pushed to its own Amazon ECR repository. Both images get deployed to a common Amazon ECS cluster.   

  • Both these microservice share some common code that is maintained in a separate folder in the mono repo.

  • A commit to a microservice builds, tests and deploys that specific microservice.

  • A commit to the common code builds, tests and deploys both microservices.

Multi-Stage Docker builds using Shippable

Docker introduced a new feature called Multi-stage builds in Docker 17.05. This feature enables you to build an image in multiple stages, with each stage represented by a FROM statement. 

 A very common use-case that motivated the development of the feature is building a production image of an application that has a much smaller disk (storage) fooprint than the development image. In the first stage of the build, the application is compiled in an image that has the entire language toolchain. In the second stage of the build, the built application and its runtime dependencies ONLY are copied over to a different base image. The process of copying selective artifacts from one stage to another is thus greatly simplied in a single Multi-stage Dockerfile. To learn more about this feature, see Docker's documentation here.

Shippable supports Multi-stage Docker builds out of the box. In this blog, we will learn how to build a docker image using a Multi-stage Docker file for a Hello-World goLang application.  

Configuring Multi-Stage CI

In this blog, we demonstrate how to use the Shippable platform to perform Multi-Stage CI on your repositories. The key benefit of Multi-Stage CI is to split a time-consuming CI process into smaller stages to detect issues in code quality / tests as early as possible and shorten the feedback loop on every checkin. This often entails refactoring or designing your application into smaller components and testing each component in isolation first before running more expensive integration tests of your component with other components in the system.

What is multi-stage CI?

In our multi-stage CI scenario, we split the CI of a Node.js app into several stages.

  • Stage 1: Stage 1 runs on every PR and lints the source code in the repository to find style errors. To learn more about the benifits of linting your javascript code, look at this article. The idea behind Stage 1 is to perform a quick code quality check on every PR and shorten the feedback loop for any errors in coding style and bugs found during static analysis. This allows developers to quickly find and fix issues in their PRs.
  • Stage 2: Stage 2 runs on successful completion of Stage 1. In Stage 2, we run a small subset of tests to quickly validate the PR.
  • Stage 3: Stage 3 runs on the merged commit to the repository. Here we run a broader set of core unit tests that take longer to run than Stage 2.

Configuring CI For A Postgres Database

Shippable makes it easy to setup database migrations and test them continuously. In this blog, we will go over the steps to execute and test migrations on a PostgreSQL database using Shippable CI

Our sample uses Node.js and the node-pg-migrate module to setup migrations on a PostgreSQL database. Shippable integrates with PostgreSQL and allows you to automatically launch a PostgreSQL instance with a single line in the yml configuration. We will test migrations on this PostgreSQL instance.


Sample project

The code for this example is in GitHub: devops-recipes/ci-migrate-postgresdb 

You can fork the repository to try out this sample yourself or just follow instructions to configure your own use case. 

Spinning up Custom Nodes Programmatically

Most customers use nodes provided by Shippable to run their CI/CD workflows. However, you also have another option called Custom Nodes, which allows you to attach your own build nodes, which can be inside your VPC and/or behind your firewall, to run your CI/CD workflows

Custom nodes provide many key advantages:

  • Security: Your build machines can be inside your VPC and/or behind your firewall, which gives you the ability to configure access, IAM, etc. We even have a way of configuring these machines so that you do not have to grant Shippable SSH access! This means your code never leaves your firewall and no external entity can access your machines.
  • Faster build times: You can leave your build machines running all the time, which eliminates the occasional 2-3 mins per build that is added when new machines are spun up on Shippable's hosted infrastructure.
  • Docker caching: If you use Docker for your build workflows like pulling Docker images from a registry or building Docker images, your build machines will already have these images and this will speed up your builds.