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GitLab CI/CD workflow keyword (FREE ALL)

Use the workflow keyword to control when pipelines are created.

The workflow keyword is evaluated before jobs. For example, if a job is configured to run for tags, but the workflow prevents tag pipelines, the job never runs.

Common if clauses for workflow:rules

Some example if clauses for workflow: rules:

Example rules Details
if: '$CI_PIPELINE_SOURCE == "merge_request_event"' Control when merge request pipelines run.
if: '$CI_PIPELINE_SOURCE == "push"' Control when both branch pipelines and tag pipelines run.
if: $CI_COMMIT_TAG Control when tag pipelines run.
if: $CI_COMMIT_BRANCH Control when branch pipelines run.

See the common if clauses for rules for more examples.

workflow: rules examples

In the following example:

  • Pipelines run for all push events (changes to branches and new tags).
  • Pipelines for push events with commit messages that end with -draft don't run, because they are set to when: never.
  • Pipelines for schedules or merge requests don't run either, because no rules evaluate to true for them.
    - if: $CI_COMMIT_MESSAGE =~ /-draft$/
      when: never
    - if: $CI_PIPELINE_SOURCE == "push"

This example has strict rules, and pipelines do not run in any other case.

Alternatively, all of the rules can be when: never, with a final when: always rule. Pipelines that match the when: never rules do not run. All other pipeline types run. For example:

    - if: $CI_PIPELINE_SOURCE == "schedule"
      when: never
    - if: $CI_PIPELINE_SOURCE == "push"
      when: never
    - when: always

This example prevents pipelines for schedules or push (branches and tags) pipelines. The final when: always rule runs all other pipeline types, including merge request pipelines.

Switch between branch pipelines and merge request pipelines

Introduced in GitLab 13.8.

To make the pipeline switch from branch pipelines to merge request pipelines after a merge request is created, add a workflow: rules section to your .gitlab-ci.yml file.

If you use both pipeline types at the same time, duplicate pipelines might run at the same time. To prevent duplicate pipelines, use the CI_OPEN_MERGE_REQUESTS variable.

The following example is for a project that runs branch and merge request pipelines only, but does not run pipelines for any other case. It runs:

  • Branch pipelines when a merge request is not open for the branch.
  • Merge request pipelines when a merge request is open for the branch.
    - if: $CI_PIPELINE_SOURCE == "merge_request_event"
      when: never

If GitLab attempts to trigger:

  • A merge request pipeline, start the pipeline. For example, a merge request pipeline can be triggered by a push to a branch with an associated open merge request.
  • A branch pipeline, but a merge request is open for that branch, do not run the branch pipeline. For example, a branch pipeline can be triggered by a change to a branch, an API call, a scheduled pipeline, and so on.
  • A branch pipeline, but there is no merge request open for the branch, run the branch pipeline.

You can also add a rule to an existing workflow section to switch from branch pipelines to merge request pipelines when a merge request is created.

Add this rule to the top of the workflow section, followed by the other rules that were already present:

      when: never
    - ...                # Previously defined workflow rules here

Triggered pipelines that run on a branch have a $CI_COMMIT_BRANCH set and could be blocked by a similar rule. Triggered pipelines have a pipeline source of trigger or pipeline, so && $CI_PIPELINE_SOURCE == "push" ensures the rule does not block triggered pipelines.

Git Flow with merge request pipelines

You can use workflow: rules with merge request pipelines. With these rules, you can use merge request pipeline features with feature branches, while keeping long-lived branches to support multiple versions of your software.

For example, to only run pipelines for your merge requests, tags, and protected branches:

    - if: $CI_PIPELINE_SOURCE == "merge_request_event"
    - if: $CI_COMMIT_TAG
    - if: $CI_COMMIT_REF_PROTECTED == "true"

This example assumes that your long-lived branches are protected.

workflow:rules templates

Introduced in GitLab 13.0.

GitLab provides templates that set up workflow: rules for common scenarios. These templates help prevent duplicate pipelines.

The Branch-Pipelines template makes your pipelines run for branches and tags.

Branch pipeline status is displayed in merge requests that use the branch as a source. However, this pipeline type does not support any features offered by merge request pipelines, like merged results pipelines or merge trains. This template intentionally avoids those features.

To include it:

  - template: 'Workflows/Branch-Pipelines.gitlab-ci.yml'

The MergeRequest-Pipelines template makes your pipelines run for the default branch, tags, and all types of merge request pipelines. Use this template if you use any of the the merge request pipelines features.

To include it:

  - template: 'Workflows/MergeRequest-Pipelines.gitlab-ci.yml'


Merge request stuck with Checking pipeline status. message

If a merge request displays Checking pipeline status., but the message never goes away (the "spinner" never stops spinning), it might be due to workflow:rules. This issue can happen if a project has Pipelines must succeed enabled, but the workflow:rules prevent a pipeline from running for the merge request.

For example, with this workflow, merge requests cannot be merged, because no pipeline can run:

    - changes:
      - .gitlab/**/**.md
      when: never