Continuous Integration and Deployment

Continuous Integration and Deployment (CI/CD) with Laravel

In today’s fast-paced world of web development, delivering high-quality software quickly is essential. Continuous Integration and Continuous Deployment (CI/CD) pipelines have become the backbone of modern software development.

Understanding CI/CD

Before we dive into the technical details, let’s clarify what Continuous Integration and Continuous Deployment mean.

2. Continuous Integration (CI) is the practice of automatically integrating code changes from multiple developers into a shared repository on a frequent basis.

3. Continuous Deployment (CD) takes the CI process a step further. In CD, code changes that pass CI tests are automatically deployed to production or staging environments. This approach minimizes the time and effort required to get new features and bug fixes into the hands of users.

Understanding CI/CD

Before setting up CI/CD for your Laravel project, you need to have the following prerequisites in place:

(1) A Laravel project hosted on a version control system like Git (e.g., GitHub, GitLab, Bitbucket).
(2) A CI/CD service like Travis CI, CircleCI, Jenkins, or GitHub Actions.
(3) A server or hosting platform where you can deploy your Laravel application (e.g., AWS, Digital Ocean, Heroku).

For this guide, we’ll use GitHub Actions as the CI/CD service and Digital Ocean as the hosting platform. However, the steps involved are similar for other services and platforms.

Step 1: Setting Up Version Control
If you haven’t already, make sure your Laravel project is hosted on a version control system. Create a Git repository and push your project to it. This ensures that your codebase is well-organized and ready for CI/CD.

Step 2: Configure Environment Variables
Laravel stores sensitive information such as database credentials and API keys in your .env file. In a CI/CD pipeline, you need a way to securely manage these variables without exposing them in your repository.

In GitHub Actions, for instance, you can define secrets in the repository settings, which are then accessible during the CI/CD workflow.

Step 3: Create the CI/CD Workflow
Now comes the heart of the process: creating the CI/CD workflow.
name: Laravel CI/CD

- main

runs-on: ubuntu-latest

- name: Checkout code
uses: actions/checkout@v2

- name: Set up PHP
uses: shivammathur/setup-php@v2
php-version: 8.0

- name: Install dependencies
run: composer install

- name: Run tests
run: composer test

- name: Deploy to Digital Ocean
${{ secrets.DO_SSH_PRIVATE_KEY }}
run: |
ssh-keyscan your-server-ip
>> ~/.ssh/known_hosts
user@your-server-ip "cd /path/to/your/
project && git pull origin main
&& composer install && php
artisan migrate"

This workflow does the following:

1. Listens for pushes to the main branch.
2. Checks out the code, sets up PHP, installs dependencies, and runs tests.
3. Deploys the application to a Digital Ocean server using an SSH key.
4. Customize this workflow to fit your project’s needs, adjusting paths, server details, and other settings as necessary.

Step 4: Configure Server and Deployment
For CD, you’ll need a server where your Laravel application can be deployed. Configure the server environment, make sure you have a web server (e.g., Nginx or Apache) and PHP installed, and set up a database.

To automate deployment to the server, the CI workflow needs access to the server through SSH. This can be achieved by creating an SSH key pair and adding the public key to the server’s ~/.ssh/authorized keys file.

In the example workflow above, we used an environment variable (DO_SSH_PRIVATE_KEY) to securely store the private SSH key. This key should be defined in the CI/CD service as a secret.

Step 5: Monitor and Troubleshoot
Once your CI/CD pipeline is set up, you should continuously monitor it to ensure everything runs smoothly. In case of failures or unexpected behaviour, debugging is essential.

Most CI/CD services provide logs and notifications for each workflow run, making it easier to diagnose issues. Common problems include issues with environment variables, incorrect server configurations, and failures in the deployment script.

Conclusion: CI/CD pipelines are a powerful tool for automating the testing and deployment of Laravel applications. By setting up a well-defined workflow, you can ensure that your code is continuously integrated, tested, and deployed to production or staging environments with minimal manual intervention. While this guide provided a basic overview of the process, you can further enhance your CI/CD pipeline by incorporating features like automated testing with Punit, integration with Laravel Forge or Enjoyer, and more complex deployment strategies. Remember that CI/CD is an ongoing process, and you should regularly review and improve your pipeline to meet the changing needs of your project. As you continue to refine your CI/CD practices, you’ll benefit from faster and more reliable software delivery, ultimately leading to happier users and more productive development teams.