questionable services

Technical writings about computing infrastructure, HTTP & security.

(by Matt Silverlock)

Building Go Projects on CircleCI


Updated September 2020: Now incorporates the matrix functionality supported in CircleCI.

If you follow me on Twitter, you would have noticed I was looking to migrate the Gorilla Toolkit from TravisCI to CircleCI as our build-system-of-choice after they were bought out & fired a bunch of senior engineers. We’d been using TravisCI for a while, appreciated the simple config, but realized it was time to move on.

I also spent some time validating a few options (Semaphore, BuildKite, Cirrus) but landed on CircleCI for its popularity across open-source projects, relatively sane (if a little large) config API, and deep GitHub integration.


I had two core requirements I needed to check off:

  1. The build system should make it easy to build multiple Go versions from the same config: our packages are widely used by a range of different Go programmers, and have been around since the early Go releases. As a result, we work hard to support older Go versions (where possible) and use build tags to prevent newer Go APIs from getting in the way of that.

  2. Figuring out what went wrong should be easy: a sane UI, clear build/error logs, and deep GitHub PR integration so that a contributor can be empowered to debug their own failing builds. Overall build performance falls into this too: faster builds make for a faster feedback loop, so a contributor is more inclined to fix it now.

The Config

Without further ado, here’s what the current (September, 2020) .circleci/config.yml looks like for gorilla/mux - with a ton of comments to step you through it.

version: 2.1

        type: string
        default: "latest"
        type: boolean
        default: true
        type: boolean
        default: true
        type: string
        default: ""
      - image: "circleci/golang:<< parameters.version >>"
    working_directory: /go/src/
      GO111MODULE: "on"
      GOPROXY: "<< parameters.goproxy >>"
      - checkout
      - run:
          name: "Print the Go version"
          command: >
            go version
      - run:
          name: "Fetch dependencies"
          command: >
            if [[ << parameters.modules >> = true ]]; then
              go mod download
              export GO111MODULE=on
              go get -v ./...
      # Only run gofmt, vet & lint against the latest Go version
      - run:
          name: "Run golint"
          command: >
            if [ << parameters.version >> = "latest" ] && [ << parameters.golint >> = true ]; then
              go get -u
              golint ./...
      - run:
          name: "Run gofmt"
          command: >
            if [[ << parameters.version >> = "latest" ]]; then
              diff -u <(echo -n) <(gofmt -d -e .)
      - run:
          name: "Run go vet"
          command: >
            if [[ << parameters.version >> = "latest" ]]; then
              go vet -v ./...
      - run:
          name: "Run go test (+ race detector)"
          command: >
            go test -v -race ./...

      - test:
              version: ["latest", "1.15", "1.14", "1.13", "1.12", "1.11"]

Updated: September 2020:

We now use the matrix parameter to define a list of parameters. Our jobs are then run for each version we define, automtically.

In our case, since we only want to run golint and other tools on the latest version, we check << parameters.version >> = "latest" before running those build steps.

Pretty straightforward, huh? We define a base job configuration, create a reference for it at &test, and then refer to that reference with <<: *test and just override the bits we need to (Docker image URL, env vars) without having to repeat ourselves.

By default, the jobs in our list run in parallel, so we don’t need to do anything special there. A workflow with sequential build steps can set a requires value to indicate the jobs that must run before it (docs).

Note: If you’re interested in what the previous TravisCI config looked like vs. the new CircleCI config, see here.

Go Modules?

Updated: September 2020

Works out of the box!

If you’re also vendoring dependencies with go mod vendor, then you’ll want to make sure you pass the -mod=vendor flag to go test or go build as per the Module docs.

Other Tips

A few things I discovered along the way:

In the end, it took a couple of days to craft a decent CircleCI config (see: large API surface), but thankfully the CircleCI folks were pretty helpful on that front. I’m definitely happy with the move away from Travis, and hopefully our contributors are too!

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