Setting up a Continuous Delivery pipeline


In this post we will go over the steps neccessary to setup a complete Continuous Delivery (CD) pipeline using Travis, Github and Leiningen, which will deploy our project to the Clojars repository.

The work involved in deploying a release version of your plugin/library can be tedious and difficult to perform consistently from one release to another, as it involves a lot of repeatable steps. Fortunately it is also ripe for automation, so let us go over the steps neccessary to achieve this.


For this tutorial we will assume a git/Github combo is used for version control of your project, with Travis enabled as a Continuous Integration tool and Leiningen as a Clojure build tool.

Ideally you would also be using some form of git-flow, or other similar branch-based model for developing new features.

Setting up lein-release to work with Clojars

Start by creating a separate profile on Clojars. Deploying and to Clojars repository needs authentication credentials, in the typical form of a username/password. We will specify to have these credentials looked up in the environment by using a namespaced keyword.

Add the following :deploy-repositories specification to your project.clj:

:deploy-repositories [["snapshots" {:url ""
                                    :username :env/clojars_username
                                    :password :env/clojars_password
                                    :sign-releases false}]
                      ["releases"  {:url ""
                                    :username :env/clojars_username
                                    :password :env/clojars_password
                                    :sign-releases false}]]

With this setup, if the project’s current version has a SNAPSHOT qualifier, it will default to deploying to the "snapshots" repository; otherwise it will default to the "releases" repository. The :sign-releases key set to false is there to make sure that the process doesn’t hang while prompting for a GPG passphrase.

Once we have the repositories and the user credentials for them configured, we can specify the steps for actually deploying the release version. Include the following :release-tasks key in your project.clj:

:release-tasks [["vcs" "assert-committed"]
                ["change" "version" "leiningen.release/bump-version" "release"]
                ["shell" "git" "commit" "-am" "Version ${:version} [ci skip]"]
                ["vcs" "tag" "v" "--no-sign"]
                ["change" "version" "leiningen.release/bump-version"]
                ["shell" "git" "commit" "-am" "Version ${:version} [ci skip]"]
                ["vcs" "push"]]

This specification results in the following tasks when deploying:

  • First a vcs task checks if there are any uncommited changes (process bails if that’s true).
  • Second a change task removes whatever qualifier is on the version in the project.clj (e.g. SNAPSHOT).
  • Next shell and vcs tasks are run, respectively, to commit this change and then to tag the repository with the release version number.
  • Then a deploy task pushes the artifact to the “releases” repository.
  • The change task is run once more to “bump” the version number in project.clj. Which version level is decided by the argument passed to lein release, (e.g. :major, :minor, :patch).
  • Finally, shell and vcs tasks are run once more to commit the version change and then push these two new commits to the default remote repository.


For the shell task you need to add the folowing plugin to your project.clj:

:plugins [lein-shell "0.5.0"]

At this point we can test if the release works as expected by releasing a test version locally. Specify the credentails and issue the following command in the terminal:

env CLOJARS_USERNAME=<username> CLOJARS_PASSWORD=<password> lein release :patch

Setting up Travis

Travis build process is configured by adding a .travis.yml file inside your repository, e.g.:

sudo: required
dist: trusty
language: clojure
script: lein test

This very basic file contains i.e. information on the language of the repository and the test command.

Travis supports storing encrypted values in this file, such as environment variables, only readable by Travis CI, meaning the repositroy owner does not need to keep any private keys. We will use this to store the credentials to access Clojars during CI/CD build.

Start by installing the travis-cli and its dependencies:

sudo apt-get install ruby-dev
gem install travis

Now in the root of your repository, where the .travis.yml file resides, run these commands, substituting placeholders with the real credentials:

travis encrypt CLOJARS_USERNAME=<username> --add
travis encrypt CLOJARS_PASSWORD=<password> --add

This will add the encrypted environment variables to the .travis.yml file.


Travis documentation spefices that all the special characters need to be escaped when econding:

Travis readily supports deploymments to various providers, but not to Clojars. Not a problem, becasue we can awlays use a general-purpose script provider.

Specify the deploy step in the .travis.yml file:

  - provider: script
    skip_cleanup: true
    script: lein release :patch
      branch: master

Travis will execute lein release :patch on the master branch of your repository if the CI build was successful. If the deploy command returns a non-zero status, deployment is considered a failure, and the build is marked as errored.

Authenticating with Github from Travis

There is one more problem which needs addressing. As you recall when specifying the tasks, we push two commits, and a tagged release to the repository. This doesn not pose a problem when done locally, but in the CI/CD environment we will push from an unauthenticated Travis server.

This is where Github’s access tokens come in handy. You can generate one from here, selecting public_repo as the token permissons.

Next, similar to storing the clojars credentials, we will encrypt and add the token as an environment variable to the .travis.yml file:

travis encrypt GH_TOKEN=<your_token_here> --add

We then need to switch to an origin remote which uses the token to authenticate. I order to do so specify the after-success step in the .travis.yml file:

- git config --global ""
- git config --global "Travis CI"
- git remote rm origin
- git remote add origin https://${GH_TOKEN}<organisation>/<repo>.git > /dev/null 2>&1

Placeholders need to be replaced with the value corresponding to your project. GH_TOKEN will be substituted inside the build server with the un-encrypted token carrying commit rights, and we pipe the output to the /dev/null to avoid leaking the token in the Travis’s build logs.


Alternatively these steps can be done as part of the Travis’s deploy step script.

Clojars badge

As a final bonus Clojars creates version badges, which always point to the latest version of your library, saving you the need to manually alter projects documentation, you can display one by adding to the project’s README:

[![Clojars Project](<organisation>/<project>.svg)](<organisation>/project)

Thanks for reading!.

Written on November 26, 2018