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Achieving Continuous Integration and Deployment with Jenkins

mariehposa profile image Mariam Adedeji Updated on ・9 min read

I had a tough first time working with Jenkins because most of the articles for setting and configuring it are out of date. So, I’m writing this to ease someone’s work and make it so they don’t have to go through what I went through to set this up.

So, here it goes...

First off, what even is Jenkins?

Jenkins is an open-source automation tool that is used to automate the building, testing and deployment of software, making continuous integration and continuous deployment easy for users.

In essence, this means that Jenkins (and a lot of other tools), allow you to automate the process of deploying or serving changes to your software to users immediately when those changes are ready. Imagine the convenience of users seeing your updated websites as soon as you merge a PR to master (or main) 😌.

Why Jenkins?

  • It is free.
  • It has a strong community, so finding support is not a problem.
  • Jenkins can be easily configured and I hope to prove this with this article, so please, read on ☺️.

For this tutorial, we'll learn how to carry out CI/CD for a Node app with Jenkins. Let’s start by highlighting all the steps we’ll take and then explaining them in detail below:

  1. Create a GitHub repository for the node app
  2. Create a simple node app and push to GitHub
  3. Create a Heroku app for deployment
  4. Install Jenkins
  5. Add a GitHub webhook to push changes to Jenkins
  6. Configure app with Jenkins
  7. Adding GitHub plugins in Jenkins
  8. Configure Jenkins to deploy to Heroku on successful testing

Prerequisites

Now, let’s get started!

Step 1 — Create a GitHub repository for the node app

Login to your GitHub account and create a new repository. You can give it a name of your choice, I will name mine jenkins-test. You can initialize with README and .gitignore for Node. Also, make sure your repository is set to public.

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Step 2 — Create a simple node app and push to GitHub

After creating the repository, clone the repository to your local machine using the following command:

git clone <repository_url>
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Make sure to change the repository_url with yours.
To create a package.json file, open up your terminal and cd into your project folder, then run npm init and follow the prompt. I’ve added a screenshot to see the CLI interaction below.

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You can remove or modify what’s in the scripts block of your package.json file and add the following to start and test the app:

"start": "node index.js",
"test": "jest"
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We’ll be using express for our sample node app so go ahead and install it by running this command in the terminal:

npm install express
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Next, create an index.js file which will serve as the entry point to our node app and add the following lines to it:

const express = require("express");

const app = express();

app.get("/", (req, res) => {
  res.status(200).json("Hello world");
});

module.exports = app.listen(process.env.PORT || 4000, () =>
  console.log(`Running on http://localhost:4000`)
);
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Run npm start and visit http://localhost:4000/ on your browser to view the Node app, you should see Hello world displayed in the browser.


Next, we’ll add a couple of tests to our app, afterall, with CI, we should make sure tests are available and are passing before merging changes.

So, go back to the terminal, make sure you’re in the root directory of your project, and install jest and supertest packages using the following command:

npm install --save-dev jest supertest
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Next, in the project’s root directory, create a folder and name it __test__ (two underscores, preceding and ending). Inside this __test__ folder, create an index.test.js file and add at least the following code to it (you can always make your tests more comprehensive).

const request = require("supertest");
const app = require("../index");

describe("Get route", () => {
  it("page should return hello world", async (done) => {
    const res = await request(app).get("/");
    expect(res.statusCode).toEqual(200);
    expect(res.body).toEqual("Hello world");
    done();
  });
});

afterAll(async () => {
  await app.close();
});
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Run npm test or npm run test in the terminal and you should see your test(s) pass:

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Now that our code is running and the tests are passing, we can commit the changes and push to GitHub.

git add .
git commit -m “initial commit”
git push
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Step 3 — Create a heroku app for deployment

Log in to your Heroku dashboard.
Look to the upper right and click on New.
Select Create new app.
Add an App name of your choice and Choose a region close to you.
Click Create app.

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Go back to your project terminal and login to Heroku using Heroku CLI. If you are yet to install the Heroku CLI, you can follow this article.

After that, add a remote to your local repository with:

heroku git:remote -a heroku-app-name
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Then push the code using:

git push heroku <github-branch-name>
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This is done to make sure everything works correctly before automating it. You can click on open app on the Heroku app dashboard to check if it works correctly.

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Step 4 — Install Jenkins

Open a new terminal and login to your server with a non-root user account.

ssh username@droplet_ip_address
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With this, we can update the kernel with the following command:

sudo apt-get update
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Run the following command to install java runtime:

sudo apt-get install default-jre
sudo apt-get install default-jdk
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Run following commands one after the other to install Jenkins.

wget -q -O - https://pkg.jenkins.io/debian-stable/jenkins.io.key | sudo apt-key add -
sudo sh -c 'echo deb https://pkg.jenkins.io/debian-stable binary/ > \
    /etc/apt/sources.list.d/jenkins.list'
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install jenkins
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Now, that Jenkins and its dependencies are installed, we can start it using:

sudo systemctl start jenkins
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You can verify if Jenkins started successfully using:

sudo systemctl status jenkins
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It should show active:

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Since Jenkins run on port 8080, let’s open it using ufw:

sudo ufw allow 8080
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You can check the ufw’s status with:

sudo ufw status
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Now visit the http://ip_address:8080 to set up Jenkins, you should see the Unlock Jenkins screen.

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To unlock Jenkins, go back to the terminal, and enter the following command to display the password.

sudo cat /var/lib/jenkins/secrets/initialAdminPassword
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Copy the password and paste it into the Administrator password field.
The next screen shows Customize Jenkins, click on Install suggested plugins.

After the installation is complete, it takes us to Create First Admin User screen. Enter the Username, Password, Full name, and E-mail address for your user, then Save and Continue.

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After that, enter the server IP address i.e http://ip_address:8080, then Save and Finish.
Yay🎉 Jenkins is Ready! Click on Start using Jenkins.

Step 5 — Add a GitHub webhook to push changes to Jenkins

In the app’s GitHub repository, go to Settings, then from the sidebar click on Webhooks. Click on Add webhooks and enter the Jenkins url with /github-webhook/ appended to it, into the Payload URL field.

Select application/json for Content-type.

Select Just the push event for the event to trigger the webhook.

Check Active and click Add webhook. Now, GitHub can push events to Jenkins successfully.

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Step 6 — Configure app with Jenkins

Open up a new terminal tab or window and login to your server with the same non-root user account.

ssh username@droplet_ip_address
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In that same terminal, enable root privileges using:

sudo su
apt install npm
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After switching to the root user and installing npm, Jenkins automatically creates a new user after installation. Switch to it using this command.

su jenkins
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Generate a new SSH key with the following command:

ssh-keygen -t rsa
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Press enter for the location and do not type any password when requested, just hit enter.

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Once the process is completed, print the public key information using:

cat ~/.ssh/id_rsa.pub
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Copy the public key.
Now login back to the non-root user in a new terminal.
Open the authorized_keys with the following command:

sudo vim ~/.ssh/authorized_keys
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Paste in the id_rsa public key and exit.

In order to confirm if the keys are properly configured, switch to jenkins server terminal and try to login to the non-root user, using ssh. You would be logged in successfully if you follow the process accordingly.

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Step 7 — Adding GitHub plugins in Jenkins

In the Jenkins dashboard, go to Manage jenkins, and then click on Manage plugins.
From the Available tab, search for github and select Github Integration plugin.
Click on Install without restart and the plugin would be installed in a few seconds.

Step 8 — Configure Jenkins to deploy to Heroku on successful testing

Now that GitHub is now connected to Jenkins, we can create a new project.
On the sidebar, click on New Item, select Freestyle project from the options, and click OK.

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You should be directed to the configurations page next, but if not, you can open it up by clicking Configure on the left sidebar.

In the configuration page, under the general tab, check the Github project option and add Github project link (url for your project repo, without the .git extension).

Next, scroll down to the Source Code Management section, select Git and add the Repository URL with .git extension (same url you’ve used for cloning the repository).

You can change the master branch to main or any other branches you want for the deployment process.

Click on the Add repository button to add a second repository, pointing to your Heroku app.

To get the Heroku app repo link, go to the App settings on your Heroku dashboard and copy the link.
Go back to your Jenkins dashboard and paste this link to the Repository URL.

We’ll need new credentials, so click on Add, to create credentials for our Heroku app.

Select Jenkins from the list and you should see a popup window.

Make sure the Kind is Username with password and the Scope is global.

Type in a username of your choice, but best to make it something descriptive. I will use heroku as my username.

Next, we’ll need to add the Heroku Api key into the Password field, and Save. To get your Heroku Api key, go to Heroku dashboard, click on Account Settings and scroll down to see the Api key. Copy this and paste it into the Password field.

You can add Description for this credential if you want to.

Click Add to finish creating the credential.

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Now, make sure the new credential we just created is selected in the dropdown. If not, click on the dropdown and select it.

Next, click on advanced and add a Name to identify this repository among other remote repositories. We’ll need this name later. I’ve named mine, jenkinsTest, because, simplicity.

Next, scroll down to the Build Triggers section and check GitHub hook trigger for GITScm polling option.

Under the Build section, Click on Add build step button and then click on Execute shell. Enter the following code into the shell:

#!/bin/bash

ssh non-root-username@<droplet_ip_address>
alias proj="cd node-app-name"
git pull origin main
npm install
npm test || exit 1
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Click on Add post-build action, choose Git Publisher, and select Push Only If Build Succeeds option.

Click on Add Branch, enter the name of the branch to deploy inside the Branch to Push field, and add the Name used to identify the Heroku app repository into the Target remote name field (mine was jenkinsTest, if you remember, so add yours in here).

Then Save.

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Go to the project dashboard, click on Build now on the left sidebar and watch gleefully as your code build successfully!

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For an extra dopamine hit, make changes to your code and push to GitHub. Watch again as your code is deployed automatically to Heroku.

If you found this article helpful, please leave a heart or a comment. If you have any questions, please let me know in the comment section.

Also, don’t forget to follow me for more articles. Thank you.

Discussion (10)

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florentbo profile image
Florent Bonamis

Why are you still using Jenkins and not pipelines?

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umairghazi profile image
Umair Ghazi

You can build pipelines using Jenkins. I work for a huge enterprise and we have pipelines for all software releases built on top of Jenkins. You'll be surprised with the things you can do with Jenkins.

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jankapunkt profile image
Jan Küster

Which pipelines to you refer to? Azure? Bitbucket? Gitlab?

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florentbo profile image
Florent Bonamis

Azure, Bitbucket the idea is the same.. No?

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jankapunkt profile image
Jan Küster

I assume that companies use Jenkins to "own" the service, while many CI/CD services are cloud based. These services are also available as on-premise but even there they are not equal. They have different license models, pricing models and openness philosophy. Jenkins is free, easy to setup, open and has proven for a long time to be a solid solution for custom CI/CD. Unless your are working entirely open-source this is still the way to go for many companies.

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vitalykarasik profile image
Vitaly Karasik

I like and use Jenkins.
I read Florent's question as "why you're not using Jenkins pipelines"? I.e. why freestyle job and on pipeline job?

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andreferreira18 profile image
André Ferreira

Great article! Very interesting, thanks.

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mariehposa profile image
Mariam Adedeji Author

Thank you, Andre. I'm glad it helped!

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markbojesen profile image
Mark Bojesen

Great article, thanks!!

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mariehposa profile image
Mariam Adedeji Author

Thanks, Mark!