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Creating starter workflows for your organization

Learn how you can create starter workflows to help people in your team add new workflows more easily.

Overview

Starter workflows allow everyone in your organization who has permission to create workflows to do so more quickly and easily. When you create a new workflow, you can choose a starter workflow and some or all of the work of writing the workflow will be done for you. You can use starter workflows as a starting place to build your custom workflow or use them as-is. This not only saves time, it promotes consistency and best practice across your organization.

GitHub provides ready-to-use starter workflows for the following high level categories:

  • Deployment (CD). For more information, see "About continuous deployment."
  • Security. For more information, see "Configuring code scanning for a repository."
  • Continuous Integration (CI). For more information, see "About continuous integration."
  • Automation. Automation starter workflows offer solutions for automating workflows, such as triaging pull requests and applying a label based on the paths that are modified in the pull request, or greeting users who are first time contributors to the repository.

Creating a starter workflow

Starter workflows can be created by users with write access to the organization's .github repository. These can then be used by organization members who have permission to create workflows.

Starter workflows created by users can only be used to create workflows in public repositories. Organizations using GitHub Enterprise Cloud can also use starter workflows to create workflows in private repositories. For more information, see the GitHub Enterprise Cloud documentation.

Note: To avoid duplication among starter workflows you can call reusable workflows from within a workflow. This can help make your workflows easier to maintain. For more information, see "Reusing workflows."

This procedure demonstrates how to create a starter workflow and metadata file. The metadata file describes how the starter workflows will be presented to users when they are creating a new workflow.

  1. If it doesn't already exist, create a new public repository named .github in your organization.

  2. Create a directory named workflow-templates.

  3. Create your new workflow file inside the workflow-templates directory.

    If you need to refer to a repository's default branch, you can use the $default-branch placeholder. When a workflow is created the placeholder will be automatically replaced with the name of the repository's default branch.

    For example, this file named octo-organization-ci.yml demonstrates a basic workflow.

    YAML
    name: Octo Organization CI
    
    on:
      push:
        branches: [ $default-branch ]
      pull_request:
        branches: [ $default-branch ]
    
    jobs:
      build:
        runs-on: ubuntu-latest
    
        steps:
          - uses: actions/checkout@v3
    
          - name: Run a one-line script
            run: echo Hello from Octo Organization
  4. Create a metadata file inside the workflow-templates directory. The metadata file must have the same name as the workflow file, but instead of the .yml extension, it must be appended with .properties.json. For example, this file named octo-organization-ci.properties.json contains the metadata for a workflow file named octo-organization-ci.yml:

    JSON
    {
        "name": "Octo Organization Workflow",
        "description": "Octo Organization CI starter workflow.",
        "iconName": "example-icon",
        "categories": [
            "Go"
        ],
        "filePatterns": [
            "package.json$",
            "^Dockerfile",
            ".*\\.md$"
        ]
    }
    • name - Required. The name of the workflow. This is displayed in the list of available workflows.

    • description - Required. The description of the workflow. This is displayed in the list of available workflows.

    • iconName - Optional. Specifies an icon for the workflow that is displayed in the list of workflows. iconName can one of the following types:

      • An SVG file that is stored in the workflow-templates directory. To reference a file, the value must be the file name without the file extension. For example, an SVG file named example-icon.svg is referenced as example-icon.
      • An icon from GitHub's set of Octicons. To reference an octicon, the value must be octicon <icon name>. For example, octicon smiley.
    • categories - Optional. Defines the categories that the workflow is shown under. You can use category names from the following lists:

    • filePatterns - Optional. Allows the workflow to be used if the user's repository has a file in its root directory that matches a defined regular expression.

To add another starter workflow, add your files to the same workflow-templates directory.

Next steps

To continue learning about GitHub Actions, see "Using starter workflows."