CI/CD Insights and Analytics

Solving GitHub Actions Observability Challenges with Foresight

Foresight makes it simple to observe your workflows with powerful visualizations to track performance, pinpoint issues, and optimize for great results.
Burak Kantarcı
4 mins read

If you are a software developer or IT professional, you're well aware of the challenges around observability. From network devices and endpoints to branches and pull requests, the IT and engineering continuum is full of blind spots and obfuscations. With a startling number of organizations struggling to discover, observe, and manage the different parts of their technology stacks, it's a wonder any new technology ever gains adoption at all.

When it comes to software development, a lack of observability can have devastating downstream effects. By their very nature, code bases grow over time. Even excellent documentation and commenting are no match for a sprawling code base and many repositories. It is critical that development teams choose tools that offer options for observability. Otherwise technical debt will continue to grow and, over time, result in a code base that can be neither controlled nor managed.

The choice to leverage GitHub actions should include consideration of how to address the observability challenges inherent in this very popular, very powerful tool.

In this post, we will explore GitHub Actions and the observability challenges that exist with it. Further, we will explore how Foresight can solve these challenges and set your team of developers for success both now and in the future.

GitHub Actions

GitHub Actions is a powerful tool designed to bring automation to GitHub repositories. GitHub Actions workflows are a configurable set of GitHub-hosted tasks that can be executed on GitHub-hosted virtual machines. This allows developers to build, test and deploy their code without worrying about managing virtual servers or complex scripts. GitHub Actions also offers integration with other popular services like Slack and GitHub pages. As a result, developers can integrate GitHub Actions with their existing workflows for even more efficiency. With GitHub Actions, development teams have an easy way to automate their daily tasks. Developers can streamline the build process for their projects.

GitHub Actions enables developers to create automation scripts. These scripts connect various events with specific tasks, saving time and money. These scripts also make workflows much more efficient. Secondary users of GitHub Actions include software engineering teams who use the platform to create repeatable tests, scan codebases for security vulnerabilities and automate deployments across many operating system versions. The possibilities are near-endless. With GitHub Actions, teams can automate any step in their process and focus on what they do best: Developing awesome software.

GitHub Actions are revolutionizing software development by streamlining the process and increasing efficiency. GitHub Actions work by monitoring GitHub events such as pushes, merges, and organization events to build, test, package, release, or deploy any code project on GitHub in a matter of moments. This removes the need for manual tasks and increases operational speed and accuracy.

GitHub Actions allows developers to not only improve project speed but increase efficiency through automated software processes - changing the way they develop software in meaningful, positive ways.

Observability Challenges When Using GitHub Actions

For all of its power and the improvements offered to users, monitoring CI pipelines in GitHub Actions can be a significant challenge. These challenges when using GitHub Actions can be daunting for development teams. Without proper observability and alerting, it is difficult to identify performance issues or operational breakdowns before an issue becomes a real problem. Teams need to have the ability to track the output of each task, understand the cost and impact of their jobs in production, and detect potential problems with their code before they lead to severe consequences.

Consider the following challenges when it comes to using GitHub Actions.

Lack of visibility into code pushes and merges

One of the biggest observability challenges when using GitHub Actions is that it does not provide an easy way to track events, such as code pushes or merges, that might be causing performance issues. This can make it difficult for developers to identify potential issues with their code before they become critical.

Difficulty tracking the status of jobs or tasks

Another challenge with GitHub Actions is that it is difficult to monitor the status of a job or task at any given time. Teams need to have insight into the output of each task, understand its cost and impact on production, and detect potential problems with their code before they lead to severe consequences.

Lack of real-time alerts

Lastly, without the ability to set up real-time alerts, it’s difficult to stay on top of potential performance issues or operational breakdowns in a timely manner. This can make it difficult to respond quickly to any potential problems with their code and take corrective action before they lead to serious consequences.

The best way to address these observability challenges is by incorporating a tool that can monitor jobs in GitHub Actions and provide detailed visibility into the performance of each task. This would allow developers to quickly detect any issues before they lead to serious problems with their code or system. With proper observability tools, teams are better equipped to troubleshoot and debug any potential issues with their GitHub Actions workflows long before they impact users and customers.

The Right Observability Solution for GitHub Actions

Foresight is the modern observability solution which is specifically designed for continuous integration pipelines. By incorporating Foresight as your CI observability tool, developers can quickly detect any issues before they lead to serious problems in production. Foresight provides detailed visibility into the performance of each job in a CI workflow, allowing teams to stay on top of potential performance issues or operational breakdowns in a timely manner. With Foresight, teams can monitor builds and get real-time alerts that notify them when something isn’t quite right with their workflow.

By providing comprehensive visibility into the performance of CI workflows and automated tests, Foresight helps GitHub Actions users ensure the smooth operation of their CI pipelines.

Foresight also provides the following capability to development teams and engineering leaders:

Monitoring of tests, and CI workflows

Foresight provides full visibility and deep insights into the health and performance of your tests and CI/CD pipelines. It lets you monitor your GitHub Actions workflows, tests, and untested code changes on a single dashboard. It visualizes your running and completed GitHub Actions workflows by status, duration, and cost.

Real-time CI & test performance insights

Long-running test suites and frequent failing tests are the most common reason for slowing down build times and hence reducing deployment frequency. Foresight provides visibility into test runs, enabling teams to debug test failures quickly, detect flaky tests, identify slow tests, and visualize performance over time to identify trends.

Root cause analysis

Foresight is a monitoring tool that can help teams take their error troubleshooting performance to the next level. It allows teams to quickly identify the root causes of failures in builds, jobs, workflows, end-to-end tests, integration testx, and more.

Integration with existing workflows

By reducing manual tasks and increasing automated controls in GitHub Actions, organizations can free up resources to focus on critical business functions. Furthermore, harnessing the insights from the accumulated data collected by Foresight’s observability analytics allows businesses to make truly informed decisions about their progress.

With easy integration into existing GitHub workflows, Foresight allows businesses to take advantage of workflow and test visibility in one system. 

GitHub Actions Observability Made Simple

GitHub Actions made a huge splash when it became available to developers, as they drastically simplified the process of automating development. However, it was overwhelming to manage each task and all their associated events to troubleshoot problems. Foresight was created to solve this problem, making it simple to observe your workflows with powerful visualizations that make it easy to track performance, pinpoint issues, and optimize for great results. With Foresight working with GitHub Actions, development teams can stay on top of any workflow without hassle or fuss - providing the pre-deployment visibility needed while keeping observability inside their GitHub Actions.

Foresight provides an invaluable solution for helping organizations overcome challenges in real-time performance insights gathering as well as end-to-end tracing & root cause analysis. If your engineering team is using GitHub Actions yet needs help to observe, manage, and monitor their CI pipeline, Foresight may be the solution to your challenges. Contact us to learn more about getting the most out of GitHub Actions.

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