Skip to main content

Revamping the GitHub Actions Experience for Atlas

· 5 min read
Rotem Tamir

Hi everyone!

I'm very happy to share with you some of the recent improvements to Atlas, specifcially around GitHub Actions. In August of last year, we released our first version of the GitHub Actions experience for Atlas. It was a modest start, which included the ability to verify the safety and correctness of schema migrations during the CI process.

Over the past year, we have slowly added more features to the GitHub Actions experience, including the ability to sync migration directories to Atlas Cloud, deploy migrations, and even install Atlas. As often happens with quickly evolving systems, we felt that the API became complex, carrying over use cases and experiences that have become obsolete or superseded by better ones since the initial release.

At Ariga, the team developing Atlas, we have written a document named the "R&D Manifesto", which lists some the principles that we commit to as individuals and as an organization. One of them is "Obsess over APIs and DevEx" - we believe that the key to building a successful product is to provide the best possible experience to our users, and that starts with clear, consistent and composable APIs that empower our users to achieve amazing feats of engineering.

With that in mind, our team has been working hard in the past few weeks to revamp the GitHub Actions experience for Atlas. Here's a quick summary of the changes:

  1. We've moved all actions into a single repo - ariga/atlas-action. (With the exception of ariga/setup-atlas.)
  2. The API has been reviewed and updated to make sure it is consistent among the different actions and with the rest of the Atlas ecosystem.
  3. We've rewritten the code in Go, which is the language we use for all of our internal tools. This allows us to share code between the CLI and the GitHub Actions, and to provide a more consistent experience between the two. In addition, looking forward we have greatly simplified the process of adding new GitHub Actions as needed.

Deprecation Notice

As part of this change we are deprecating the previous generation of GitHub Actions, and we encourage you to migrate to the new ones as soon as possible. The old actions will continue to work for the time being, but we will not be receiving any updates. These actions are:

Introducing to the New Actions

Without further ado, I'm happy to present the new generation of GitHub Actions for Atlas. The new actions follow the design principle of building actions as small, composable units that can be combined to achieve different outcomes. All of the actions rely on Atlas being installed on the GitHub Actions runner, which is done using the ariga/setup-atlas action. The rest of the actions essentially map to CLI commands, and can be used to build more complex workflows.

The actions are:

ActionUse Case
ariga/setup-atlasInstall Atlas from a GitHub Actions workflow
ariga/atlas-action/migrate/lintCI for schema changes
ariga/atlas-action/migrate/pushPush your migration directory to Atlas Cloud (
ariga/atlas-action/migrate/applyDeploy versioned migrations from GitHub Actions

Example Workflows

Consider the following GitHub Actions workflow, which can be used to implement a CI/CD pipeline for your database schema changes.

name: Atlas CI/CD
- master # Use your main branch here.
- 'migrations/*' # Use the path to your migration directory here.
# Permissions to write comments on the pull request.
contents: read
pull-requests: write
# Spin up a mysql:8 container to be used as the dev-database for analysis.
image: mysql:8
- 3306:3306
options: >-
--health-cmd "mysqladmin ping -ppass"
--health-interval 10s
--health-start-period 10s
--health-timeout 5s
--health-retries 10
runs-on: ubuntu-latest
GITHUB_TOKEN: ${{ github.token }}
- uses: actions/checkout@v3
fetch-depth: 0
- uses: ariga/setup-atlas@v0
cloud-token: ${{ secrets.ATLAS_CLOUD_TOKEN }}
- uses: ariga/atlas-action/migrate/lint@v1
dir: 'file://migrations'
dir-name: 'my-project' # The name of the project in Atlas Cloud
dev-url: "mysql://root:pass@localhost:3306/dev"
- uses: ariga/atlas-action/migrate/push@v1
if: github.ref == 'refs/heads/master'
dir: 'file://migrations'
dir-name: 'my-project'
dev-url: 'mysql://root:pass@localhost:3306/dev' # Use the service name "mysql" as the hostname

This workflow uses 3 different actions to achieve the following:

  • ariga/setup-atlas - Installs Atlas on the GitHub Actions runner and logs in using the provided token.
  • ariga/atlas-action/migrate/lint - Lints the migration directory and verifies that it is safe to apply. This is run on every pull request that modifies the migration directory. If issues are found, the action will fail and a comment will be posted on the pull request with the details.
  • ariga/atlas-action/migrate/push - Pushes the migration directory to Atlas Cloud. This is run on every push to the main branch, so it can be used to deploy the migrations to production.

Tagging v1

With the release of the new actions, we are also tagging the v1 release of the actions to mark the maturity and stability of the API. We hope you will find the new actions useful, and we look forward to seeing what you build with them!

How can we make Atlas better?

We would love to hear from you on our Discord server ❤️.