Continuous Deployment of a platform and its variants using githook and cron

Tim Pizey from Tim Pizey


We have a prototypical webapp platform which has four variants, commodities, energy, minerals and wood. We use the Maven war overlay feature. Don't blame me it was before my time.

This architecture, with a core platform and four variants, means that one commit to platform can result in five staging sites needing to be redeployed.

Continuous Integration

We have a fairly mature Continuous Integration setup, using Jenkins to build five projects on commit. The team is small enough that we also build each developer's fork. Broken builds on trunk are not common.

NB This setup does deploy broken builds. Use a pipeline if broken staging builds are a problem in themselves.

Of Martin Fowler's Continuous Integration Checklist we have a score in every category but one:

  • Maintain a Single Source Repository
  • Automate the Build
    We build using Maven.
  • Make Your Build Self-Testing
    Maven runs our Spring tests and unit tests (coverage could be higher).
  • Everyone Commits To the Mainline Every Day
    I do, some with better memories keep longer running branches.
  • Every Commit Should Build the Mainline on an Integration Machine
    Jenkins as a service from Cloudbees.
  • Fix Broken Builds Immediately
    We have a prominently displayed build wall, the approach here deploys broken builds to staging so we rely upon having none.
  • Keep the Build Fast
    We have reduced the local build to eight minutes, twenty five minutes or so on Jenkins. This is not acceptable and does cause problems, such as tests not being run locally, but increasing the coverage and reducing the run time will not be easy.
  • Test in a Clone of the Production Environment
    There is no difference in kind between the production and development environments. Developers use the same operating system and deployment mechanism as is used on the servers.
  • Make it Easy for Anyone to Get the Latest Executable
    Jenkins deploys to a Maven snapshot repository.
  • Everyone can see what's happening
    Our Jenkins build wall is on display in the coding room.
  • Automate Deployment
    The missing piece, covered in this post.

Continuous, Unchecked, Deployment

Each project has an executable build file redo:

mvn clean install -DskipTests=true
sudo ./reload
which calls the deployment to tomcat reload

service tomcat7 stop
rm -rf /var/lib/tomcat7/webapps/ROOT
cp target/ROOT.war /var/lib/tomcat7/webapps/
service tomcat7 start
We can use a githook to call redo when the project is updated:
cd .git/hooks
ln -s ../../redo post-merge
Add a line to chrontab using
crontab -e

*/5 * * * * cd checkout/commodities && git pull -q origin master
This polls for changes to the project code every five minutes and calls redo if a change is detected.

However we also need to redeploy if a change is made to the prototype, platform.

We can achieve this with a script continuousDeployment


# Assumed to be invoked from derivative project which contains script redo

cd ../platform
git fetch > change_log.txt 2>&1
if [ -s change_log.txt ]
# Installs by fireing githook post-merge
git pull origin master
cd $pwd
rm change_log.txt
which is also invoked by a crontab:

*/5 * * * * cd checkout/commodities && ../platform/continuousDeployment