Automated builds

Note: Docker Cloud’s Build functionality is in BETA.

Docker Cloud can automatically build images from source code in an external repository and automatically push the built image to your Docker repositories.

When you set up automated builds (also called autobuilds), you create a list of branches and tags of the images that you want to build. When you push code to a source code branch (for example in Github) for one of those listed image tags, the push uses a webhook to trigger a new build, which produces a Docker image. The built image is then pushed to the Docker Cloud registry or external registry.

If you have automated tests configured, these run after building but before pushing to the registry. You can use these tests to create a continuous integration workflow. Automated tests do not push images to the registry on their own. Learn more about automated image testing here.

You can also just use docker push to push pre-built images to these repositories, even if you have automatic builds set up.

Configure automated build settings

You can configure your repositories in Docker Cloud so that they automatically build an image each time you push new code to your source provider. If you have automated tests configured, the new image is only pushed when the tests succeed.

Before you set up automated builds you need to link to your source code provider, and have a repository to build.

  1. From the Repositories section, click into a repository to view its details.

  2. Click the Builds tab.

  3. The first time you configure automated builds for a repository, you’ll see buttons that allow you to link to an external source code repository. Select the repository service where the image’s source is stored.

    (If you haven’t yet linked a source provider, follow the instructions here to link your account.)

    If you are editing an existing the build settings for an existing automated build, click Configure automated builds.

  4. If necessary, select the source repository to build the repository from.

  5. Select the source repository to build the Docker images from.

    You might need to specify an organization or user from the source code provider to find the code repository you want to build.

  6. Choose where to run your build processes.

    You can either run the process on your own infrastructure and optionally set up specific nodes to build on, or use the hosted build service offered on Docker Cloud’s infrastructure. If you use Docker’s infrastructure, select a builder size to run the build process on. This hosted build service is free while it is in Beta.

  7. Optionally, enable autotests.

  8. In the Tag mappings section, enter one or more tags to build.

    For each tag:

    • Select the Source type to build: either a tag or a branch. This tells the build system what to look for in the source code repository.

    • Enter the name of the Source branch or tag you want to build.

      You can enter a name, or use a regex to match which source branch or tag names to build. To learn more, see regexes.

    • Specify the Dockerfile location as a path relative to the root of the source code repository. (If the Dockerfile is at the repository root, leave this path set to /.)

    • Enter the tag to apply to Docker images built from this source. If you configured a regex to select the source, you can reference the capture groups and use its result as part of the tag. To learn more, see regexes.

  9. For each branch or tag, enable or disable the Autobuild toggle.

    Only branches or tags with autobuild enabled are built, tested, and pushed. Branches with autobuild disabled will be built for testing purposes if enabled, but not pushed.

  10. Click Save to save the settings, or click Save and build to save and run an initial test.

    A webhook is automatically added to your source code repository to notify Docker Cloud on every push. Only pushes to branches that are listed as the source for one or more tags will trigger a build.

Check your active builds

  1. To view active builds, go to the repository view and click Timeline.

    The Timeline displays the pending, in progress, successful and failed builds for any tag of the repository.

  2. Click to expand a timeline entry to check the build logs.

You can click the Cancel button for pending builds and builds in progress. If a build fails, the cancel button is replaced by a Retry button.

Disable an automated build

Automated builds are enabled per branch or tag, and can be disabled and re-enabled easily. You might do this when you want to only build manually for awhile, for example when you are doing major refactoring in your code. Disabling autobuilds does not disable autotests.

To disable an automated build:

  1. From the Repositories page, click into a repository, and click the Builds tab.

  2. Click Configure automated builds to edit the repository’s build settings.

  3. In the Tag mappings section, locate the branch or tag you no longer want to automatically build.

  4. Click the autobuild toggle next to the branch configuration line.

    The toggle turns gray when disabled.

  5. Click Save to save your changes.

Regexes and automated builds

You can specify a regular expression (regex) so that only matching branches or tags are built. You can also use the results of the regex to create the Docker tag that is applied to the built image.

You can use the variable {sourceref} to use the branch or tag name that matched the regex. (The variable includes the whole source name, not just the portion that matched the regex.) You can also use up to nine regular expression capture groups (expressions enclosed in parentheses) to select a source to build, and reference these in the Docker Tag field using {/1} through {/9}.

Regex example: build from version number branch and tag with version number

You might want to automatically build any branches that end with a number formatted like a version number, and tag their resulting Docker images using a name that incorporates that branch name.

To do this, specify a branch build with the regex /[0-9.]+$/ in the Source field, and use the formula version-{sourceref} in the Docker tag field.

Build repositories with linked private submodules

Docker Cloud sets up a deploy key in your source code repository that allows it to clone the repository and build it, however this key only works for a single, specific code repository. If your source code repository uses private Git submodules (or requires that you clone other private repositories to build), Docker Cloud cannot access these additional repos, your build will not complete, and you’ll see an error in your build timeline.

To work around this, you can set up your automated build using the SSH_PRIVATE environment variable to override the deployment key and grant Docker Cloud’s build system access to the repositories.

Note: If you are using autobuild for teams, use the process below instead, and configure a service user for your source code provider. You can also do this for an individual account to limit Docker Cloud’s access to your source repositories.

  1. Generate a SSH keypair that you will use for builds only, and add the public key to your source code provider account.

    This step is optional, but allows you to revoke the build-only keypair without removing other access.

  2. Copy the private half of the keypair to your clipboard.

  3. In Docker Cloud, navigate to the build page for the repository that has linked private submodules. (If necessary, follow the steps here to configure the automated build.)

  4. At the bottom of the screen, click the plus sign ( + ) next to Environment Variables.

  5. Enter SSH_PRIVATE as the name for the new environment variable.

  6. Paste the private half of the keypair into the Value field.

  7. Click Save, or Save and Build to validate that the build now completes.

Note: You must configure your private git submodules using git clone over SSH (git@submodule.tld:some-submodule.git) rather than HTTPS.

Autobuild for Teams

When you create an automated build repository in your own account namespace, you can start, cancel, and retry builds, and edit and delete your own repositories.

These same actions are also available for team repositories from Docker Hub if you are a member of the Organization’s Owners team. If you are a member of a team with write permissions you can start, cancel and retry builds in your team’s repositories, but you cannot edit the team repository settings or delete the team repositories. If your user account has read permission, or if you’re a member of a team with read permission, you can view the build configuration including any testing settings.

Action/Permission read write admin owner
view build details x x x x
start, cancel, retry x x x
edit build settings x x
delete build x

Service users for team autobuilds

Note: Only members of the Owners team can set up automated builds for teams.

When you set up automated builds for teams, you grant Docker Cloud access to your source code repositories using OAuth tied to a specific user account. This means that Docker Cloud has access to everything that the linked source provider account can access.

For organizations and teams, we recommend creating a dedicated service account (or “machine user”) to grant access to the source provider. This ensures that no builds break as individual users’ access permissions change, and that an individual user’s personal projects are not exposed to an entire organization.

This service account should have access to any repositories that will be built, and must have administrative access to the source code repositories so it can manage deploy keys. If needed, you can limit this account to only a specific set of repositories required for a specific build.

If you are building repositories with linked private submodules (private dependencies), you will also need to add an override SSH_PRIVATE environment variable to automated builds associated with the account.

  1. Create a service user account on your source provider, and generate SSH keys for it.
  2. Create a “build” team in your organization.
  3. Ensure that the new “build” team has access to each repository and submodule you’ll be building.

    Go to the repository’s Settings page. On Github, add the new “build” team to the list of Collaborators and Teams. On Bitbucket, add the “build” team to the list of approved users on the Access management screen.

  4. Add the service user to the “build” team on the source provider.

  5. Log in to Docker Cloud as a member of the Owners team, switch to the organization, and follow the instructions to link to source code repository using the service account.

    Note: You may need to log out of your individual account on the source code provider to create the link to the service account.

  6. Optionally, use the SSH keys you generated to set up any builds with private submodules, using the service account and the instructions above.

What’s Next?

Customize your build process

Additional advanced options are available for customizing your automated builds, including utility environment variables, hooks, and build phase overrides. To learn more see Advanced options for Autobuild and Autotest.

Set up builder nodes

If you are building on your own infrastructure, you can run the build process on specific nodes by adding the builder label to them. If no builder nodes are specified, the build containers are deployed using an “emptiest node” strategy.

You can also limit the number of concurrent builds (including autotest builds) on a specific node by using a builder=n tag, where the n is the number of builds to allow. For example a node tagged with builder=5 only allows up to five concurrent builds or autotest-builds at the same time.

Autoredeploy services on successful build

You can configure your services to automatically redeploy once the build succeeds. Learn more about autoredeploy

Add automated tests

To test your code before the image is pushed, you can use Docker Cloud’s Autotest feature which integrates seamlessly with autobuild and autoredeploy.

Note: While the Autotest feature builds an image for testing purposes, it does not push the resulting image to Docker Cloud or the external registry.


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