Guides & Tutorials

Streamlining your development workflow: a guide to CI/CD automation using webhooks

Guides & Tutorials

Streamlining your development workflow: a guide to CI/CD automation using webhooks

CI/CD, which stands for Continuous Integration and Continuous Deployment, is a software development approach that enables teams to deliver high-quality software rapidly and consistently. At Netlify, we offer an all-in-one platform for web development that includes seamless integration with Git version control and a robust CI/CD pipeline.

With Netlify's CI/CD, you can trigger automatic builds and deployments whenever code changes are pushed to the repository, when your content authors publish new content — and much more to complement your workflows. Netlify automatically builds the website or application, runs tests, and deploys it to a staging environment, or Deploy Preview. This allows developers, QA teams and stakeholders to preview and test changes before promoting them to production.

But that’s only a fraction of what’s possible! The added benefit of CI/CD is being able to integrate with other tooling and systems to automate your entire end-to-end business workflows, saving you days, weeks and even months of manual effort — so you and your teams can focus on what’s most important — shipping great products for your customers. In this post, we’re going to take a look at how using webhooks in your CI/CD automation can supercharge your development workflow across your entire organization.

What is a webhook?

A webhook is a way for web applications to communicate with each other in real-time by sending automated notifications or data from one application to another.

Typically, a webhook workflow looks something like this:

  1. An event or trigger occurs in one application, such as when a new order placed in an e-commerce system, when a form is submitted on a website, or when new content is published in a Content Management System (CMS).
  2. The application that generated the event sends a POST request to a specified URL, often with a JSON payload.
  3. The receiving application, known as the webhook listener, is set up to listen for incoming requests at that URL.
  4. Once the request is received, the webhook listener performs actions or responds to the event accordingly, such as sending a notification or triggering another process.

Using webhooks to streamline CI/CD automation

There is an abundance of use cases for webhooks to level-up your CI/CD automation and development workflows, enabling you to focus on building your product instead of losing time on repetitive administrative tasks. Here are just a few ideas to show you how powerful automation with webhooks can be for your business.

Notification and alerting

Webhooks can be used to send notifications and alerts to external systems or platforms when specific events occur in your CI/CD pipeline. For example, you can use Deploy Notifications on Netlify to add event markers to your observability tooling, or send emails to stakeholders when a release has shipped successfully.

ChatOps and collaboration

Outgoing webhooks can streamline communication and collaboration by sending updates, test failures, build statuses, or release information to team chat platforms. At Netlify, we provide a neat pre-built integration that allows you to send messages to a Slack channel, such as test suite or build failures, or successful deploys. This allows team members to stay informed, discuss changes, and collaborate effectively in real-time.

Issue tracking and bug management

If you don’t use a tool like Slack, you can also use outgoing webhooks to create or update issues in your project management systems such as JIRA, or any other collaboration platform. Outgoing webhooks on Netlify allow you to send event information as JSON to an arbitrary URL using a POST request. This enables you to automatically generate tickets in your company’s preferred issue tracking system when errors or failures are detected during the CI/CD process.

Test result integration

Given webhooks can be configured to send data to any URL via a POST request, they can also be used to send test results and code coverage reports to external testing platforms or reporting tools. This allows for real-time visibility into the test outcomes, helping your teams track testing progress and identify areas for improvement.

Security and compliance

Webhooks can also integrate with security scanning tools or compliance platforms to automatically trigger code analysis, security checks and vulnerability scans during the CI/CD process. This helps ensure that the codebase adheres to specific security standards and compliance regulations that apply to your business.

Deployment orchestration

Outgoing webhooks can also be leveraged to trigger specific actions in external systems, such as cloud infrastructure providers or container orchestration platforms. For example, if you’ve deployed a new feature in your project on Netlify that requires a different system to build or update a configuration, you can automate this process rather than requiring a developer on hand to flip the switch manually. This enables the automation of end-to-end deployment workflows, ensuring that the application is deployed consistently across various environments.

Performance monitoring and metrics

You can also automate the collection and analysis of performance data during the CI/CD process using outgoing webhooks. This helps identify performance bottlenecks, track metrics, and optimize system performance.

Documentation and knowledge management

Large businesses with multiple teams often use internal documentation platforms or knowledge management systems to facilitate cross-team collaboration and increase visibility into the features that are being shipped. You can use webhooks to automatically update these artefacts with the relevant information, such as feature details, test coverage, code analysis, when an A/B test went live, compliance data and other metrics, keeping your documentation up-to-date and reducing manual effort.

Change management and approval processes

Large teams may also make use of specific approval workflows and change management processes in external systems. Outgoing webhooks can be used to trigger these processes, ensuring that any changes introduced through CI/CD pipelines go through the necessary review and approval steps before being deployed.

Custom integrations

There’s no one-size-fits-all automation solution for your business, and the flexibility of outgoing webhooks means that you can automate almost anything in your CI/CD pipelines and deployment workflow, and integrate with your tools of choice as part of a composable architecture. (You might even be able to automate ordering a box of donuts for the office each time you ship a successful release, but we haven’t tested that… yet. 🍩)

To find out more about how Netlify can help your streamline your development workflow with CI/CD automation, get in touch with us today.

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