After you create an action, you'll want to continue releasing new features while working with community contributions. This tutorial describes an example process you can follow to release and maintain actions in open source. The example:
- Leverages GitHub Actions for continuous integration, dependency updates, release management, and task automation.
- Provides confidence through automated tests and build badges.
- Indicates how the action can be used, ideally as part of a broader workflow.
- Signal what type of community contributions you welcome. (For example, issues, pull requests, or vulnerability reports.)
Developing and releasing actions
In this section, we discuss an example process for developing and releasing actions and show how to use GitHub Actions to automate the process.
- Dependent packages are committed alongside the code, typically in a compiled and minified form. This means that automated builds and secure community contributions are important.
- Tagged releases can be published directly to GitHub Marketplace and consumed by workflows across GitHub.
- Many actions make use of GitHub's APIs and third party APIs, so we encourage robust end-to-end testing.
Setting up GitHub Actions workflows
To support the developer process in the next section, add two GitHub Actions workflows to your repository:
- Add a workflow that triggers when a commit is pushed to a feature branch or to
mainor when a pull request is created. Configure the workflow to run your unit and integration tests. For an example, see this workflow.
Example developer process
Here is an example process that you can follow to automatically run tests, create a release and publish to GitHub Marketplace, and publish your action.
Do feature work in branches per GitHub flow. For more information, see "GitHub flow."
- Whenever a commit is pushed to the feature branch, your testing workflow will automatically run the tests.
Create pull requests to the
mainbranch to initiate discussion and review, merging when ready.
When a pull request is opened, either from a branch or a fork, your testing workflow will again run the tests, this time with the merge commit.
Note: for security reasons, workflows triggered by
pull_requestfrom forks have restricted
GITHUB_TOKENpermissions and do not have access to secrets. If your tests or other workflows triggered upon pull request require access to secrets, consider using a different event like a manual trigger or a
pull_request_target. Read more here.
Create a semantically tagged release. You may also publish to GitHub Marketplace with a simple checkbox. For more information, see "Managing releases in a repository" and "Publishing actions in GitHub Marketplace".
When a release is published or edited, your release workflow will automatically take care of compilation and adjusting tags.
We recommend creating releases using semantically versioned tags – for example,
v1.1.3– and keeping major (
v1) and minor (
v1.1) tags current to the latest appropriate commit. For more information, see "About custom actions" and "About semantic versioning.
Unlike some other automated release management strategies, this process intentionally does not commit dependencies to the
main branch, only to the tagged release commits. By doing so, you encourage users of your action to reference named tags or
shas, and you help ensure the security of third party pull requests by doing the build yourself during a release.
Using semantic releases means that the users of your actions can pin their workflows to a version and know that they might continue to receive the latest stable, non-breaking features, depending on their comfort level:
Working with the community
GitHub provides tools and guides to help you work with the open source community. Here are a few tools we recommend setting up for healthy bidirectional communication. By providing the following signals to the community, you encourage others to use, modify, and contribute to your action:
- Maintain a
READMEwith plenty of usage examples and guidance. For more information, see "About READMEs."
- Include a workflow status badge in your
READMEfile. For more information, see "Adding a workflow status badge." Also visit shields.io to learn about other badges that you can add.
- Add community health files like
SECURITY. For more information, see "Creating a default community health file."
- Keep issues current by utilizing actions like actions/stale.
Examples where similar patterns are employed include: