Using GitHub Actions with Amazon CodeCatalyst
An Amazon CodeCatalyst workflow is an automated procedure that describes how to build, test, and deploy your code as part of a continuous integration and continuous delivery (CI/CD) system. You can use GitHub Actions alongside native CodeCatalyst actions in a CodeCatalyst workflow.
In a prior post in this series, Using Workflows to Build, Test, and Deploy with Amazon CodeCatalyst, I discussed creating CI/CD pipelines in CodeCatalyst and how that relates to The Unicorn Project’s main protagonist, Maxine. CodeCatalyst workflows help you reliably deliver high-quality application updates frequently, quickly, and securely. CodeCatalyst allows you to quickly assemble and configure actions to compose workflows that automate your CI/CD pipeline, test reporting, and other manual processes. Workflows use provisioned compute, Lambda compute, custom container images, and a managed build infrastructure to scale execution easily without sacrificing flexibility. In this post, I will return to workflows and discuss running GitHub Actions alongside native CodeCatalyst actions.
If you would like to follow along with this walkthrough, you will need to:
- Have an AWS Builder ID for signing in to CodeCatalyst.
- Belong to a space and have the space administrator role assigned to you in that space. For more information, see Creating a space in CodeCatalyst, Managing members of your space, and Space administrator role.
- Have an AWS account associated with your space and have the IAM role in that account. For more information about the role and role policy, see Creating a CodeCatalyst service role.
As with the previous posts in the CodeCatalyst series, I am going to use the Modern Three-tier Web Application blueprint. Blueprints provide sample code and CI/CD workflows to help you get started easily across different combinations of programming languages and architectures. To follow along, you can re-use a project you created previously, or you can refer to a previous post that walks through creating a project using the Three-tier blueprint.
As the team has grown, I have noticed that code quality has decreased. Therefore, I would like to add a few additional tools to validate code quality when a new pull request is submitted. In addition, I would like to create a Software Bill of Materials (SBOM) for each pull request so I know what components are used by the code. In the previous post on workflows, I focused on the deployment workflow. In this post, I will focus on the OnPullRequest workflow. You can view the OnPullRequest pipeline by expanding CI/CD from the left navigation, and choosing Workflows. Next, choose OnPullRequest and you will be presented with the workflow shown in the following screenshot. This workflow runs when a new pull request is submitted and currently uses Amazon CodeGuru to perform an automated code review.
While CodeGuru provides intelligent recommendations to improve code quality, it does not check style. I would like to add a linter to ensure developers follow our coding standards. While CodeCatalyst supports a rich collection of native actions, this does not currently include a linter. Fortunately, CodeCatalyst also supports GitHub Actions. Let’s use a GitHub Action to add a linter to the workflow.
Select Edit in the top right corner of the Workflow screen. If the editor opens in YAML mode, switch to Visual mode using the toggle above the code. Next, select “+ Actions” to show the list of actions. Then, change from Amazon CodeCatalyst to GitHub using the dropdown. At the time this blog was published, CodeCatalyst includes about a dozen curated GitHub Actions. Note that you are not limited to the list of curated actions. I’ll show you how to add GitHub Actions that are not on the list later in this post. For now, I am going to use Super-Linter to check coding style in pull requests. Find Super-Linter in the curated list and click the plus icon to add it to the workflow.
This will add a new action to the workflow and open the configuration dialog box. There is no further configuration needed, so you can simply close the configuration dialog box. The workflow should now look like this.
Notice that the actions are configured to run in parallel. In the previous post, when I discussed the deployment workflow, the steps were sequential. This made sense since each step built on the previous step. For the pull request workflow, the actions are independent, and I will allow them to run in parallel so they complete faster. I select Validate, and assuming there are no issues, I select Commit to save my changes to the repository.
While CodeCatalyst will start the workflow when a pull request is submitted, I do not have a pull request to submit. Therefore, I select Run to test the workflow. A notification at the top of the screen includes a link to view the run. As expected, Super Linter fails because it has found issues in the application code. I click on the Super Linter action and review the logs. Here are few issues that Super Linter reported regarding app.py used by the backend application. Note that the log has been modified slightly to fit on a single line.
With Super-Linter working, I turn my attention to creating a Software Bill of Materials (SBOM). I am going to use OWASP CycloneDX to create the SBOM. Not only is there a curated list of actions that many developers may find helpful, but you can use almost any GitHub Action in CodeCatalyst. To add a GitHub Action that is not in the curated list, I return to edit mode, find GitHub Actions in the list of curated actions, and click the plus icon to add it to the workflow.
CodeCatalyst will add a new action to the workflow and open the configuration dialog box. I choose the Configuration tab and use the pencil icon to change the Action Name to Software-Bill-of-Materials. Then, I scroll down to the configuration section, and change the GitHub Action YAML. Note that you can copy the YAML from the GitHub Actions Marketplace, including the latest version number. In addition, the CycloneDX action expects you to pass the path to the Python requirements file as an input parameter.
Since I am using the generic GitHub Action, I must tell CodeCatalyst which artifacts are produced by the action and should be collected after execution. CycloneDX creates an XML file called bom.xml which I configure as an artifact. Note that a CodeCatalyst artifact is the output of a workflow action, and typically consists of a folder or archive of files. You can share artifacts with subsequent actions.
Once again, I select Validate, and assuming there are no issues, I select Commit to save my changes to the repository. I now have three actions that run in parallel when a pull request is submitted: CodeGuru, Super-Linter, and Software Bill of Materials.
As before, I select Run to test my workflow and click the view link in the notification. As expected, the workflow fails because Super-Linter is still reporting issues. However, the new Software Bill of Materials has completed successfully. From the artifacts tab I can download the SBOM.
The artifact is a zip archive that includes the bom.xml created by CycloneDX. This includes, among other information, a list of components used in the backend application.
The workflow is now enforcing code quality and generating a SBOM like I wanted. Note that while this is a great start, there is still room for improvement. First, I could collect reports generated by the actions in my workflow, and define success criteria for code quality. Second, I could scan the SBOM for known security vulnerabilities using a Software Composition Analysis (SCA) solution. I will be covering this in a future post in this series.
If you have been following along with this workflow, you should delete the resources you deployed so you do not continue to incur charges. First, delete the two stacks that CDK deployed using the AWS CloudFormation console in the AWS account you associated when you launched the blueprint. These stacks will have names like mysfitsXXXXXWebStack and mysfitsXXXXXAppStack. Second, delete the project from CodeCatalyst by navigating to Project settings and choosing Delete project.
In this post, you learned how to add GitHub Actions to a CodeCatalyst workflow. I used GitHub Actions alongside native CodeCatalyst actions in my workflow. I also discussed adding actions from both the curated list of actions and others not in the curated list. Read the documentation to learn more about using GitHub Actions in CodeCatalyst.
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