The GitLab CI/CD pipeline includes a
danger-review job that uses Danger
to perform a variety of automated checks on the code under test.
Danger is a gem that runs in the CI environment, like any other analysis tool. What sets it apart from (for example, RuboCop) is that it's designed to allow you to easily write arbitrary code to test properties of your code or changes. To this end, it provides a set of common helpers and access to information about what has actually changed in your environment, then runs your code!
If Danger is asking you to change something about your merge request, it's best just to make the change. If you want to learn how Danger works, or make changes to the existing rules, then this is the document for you.
Danger comments in merge requests
Danger only posts one comment and updates its content on subsequent
danger-review runs. Given this, it's usually one of the first few comments
in a merge request if not the first. If you didn't see it, try to look
from the start of the merge request.
- You don't get email notifications each time
- It's not obvious Danger updates the old comment, thus you need to pay attention to it if it is updated or not.
Run Danger locally
A subset of the current checks can be run locally with the following Rake task:
On startup, Danger reads a
from the project root. Danger code in GitLab is decomposed into a set of helpers
and plugins, all within the
subdirectory, so ours just tells Danger to load it all. Danger then runs
each plugin against the merge request, collecting the output from each. A plugin
may output notifications, warnings, or errors, all of which are copied to the
CI job's log. If an error happens, the CI job (and so the entire pipeline) fails.
On merge requests, Danger also copies the output to a comment on the MR itself, increasing visibility.
Danger code is Ruby code, so all our usual backend guidelines continue to apply. However, there are a few things that deserve special emphasis.
When to use Danger
Danger is a powerful tool and flexible tool, but not always the most appropriate way to solve a given problem or workflow.
First, be aware of the GitLab commitment to dogfooding. The code we write for Danger is GitLab-specific, and it may not be most appropriate place to implement functionality that addresses a need we encounter. Our users, customers, and even our own satellite projects, such as Gitaly, often face similar challenges, after all. Think about how you could fulfill the same need while ensuring everyone can benefit from the work, and do that instead if you can.
If a standard tool (for example,
rubocop) exists for a task, it's better to
use it directly, rather than calling it by using Danger. Running and debugging
the results of those tools locally is easier if Danger isn't involved, and
unless you're using some Danger-specific functionality, there's no benefit to
including it in the Danger run.
Danger is well-suited to prototyping and rapidly iterating on solutions, so if what we want to build is unclear, a solution in Danger can be thought of as a trial run to gather information about a product area. If you're doing this, make sure the problem you're trying to solve, and the outcomes of that prototyping, are captured in an issue or epic as you go along. This helps us to address the need as part of the product in a future version of GitLab!
Implement each task as an isolated piece of functionality and place it in its
own directory under
Each task should be isolated from the others, and able to function in isolation.
If there is code that should be shared between multiple tasks, add a plugin to
danger/plugins/... and require it in each task that needs it. You can also
create plugins that are specific to a single task, which is a natural place for
complex logic related to that task.
Danger code is just Ruby code. It should adhere to our coding standards, and
needs tests, like any other piece of Ruby in our codebase. However, we aren't
able to test a
Dangerfile directly! So, to maximize test coverage, try to
minimize the number of lines of code in
danger/. A non-trivial
should mostly call plugin code with arguments derived from the methods provided
by Danger. The plugin code itself should have unit tests.
At present, we do this by putting the code in a module in
and including it in the matching
danger/plugins/... file. Specs can then be
To determine if your
Dangerfile works, push the branch that contains it to
GitLab. This can be quite frustrating, as it significantly increases the cycle
time when developing a new task, or trying to debug something in an existing
one. If you've followed the guidelines above, most of your code can be exercised
locally in RSpec, minimizing the number of cycles you need to go through in CI.
However, you can speed these cycles up somewhat by emptying the
.gitlab/ci/rails.gitlab-ci.yml file in your merge request. Just don't forget
to revert the change before merging!
Adding labels via Danger
This is applicable to all the projects that use the
Danger is often used to improve MR hygiene by adding labels. Instead of calling the
API directly in your
Dangerfile, add the labels to
helper.labels_to_add array (with
helper.labels_to_add << label
gitlab-dangerfiles will then take care of adding the labels to the MR with a single API call after all the rules
have had the chance to add to
Shared rules and plugins
If the rule or plugin you implement can be useful for other projects, think about
adding them upstream to the
Enable Danger on a project
To enable the Dangerfile on another existing GitLab project, complete the following steps:
Dangerfilewith the following content:
require "gitlab-dangerfiles" Gitlab::Dangerfiles.for_project(self, &:import_defaults)
Add the following to your CI/CD configuration:
include: - project: 'gitlab-org/quality/pipeline-common' file: - '/ci/danger-review.yml' rules: - if: $CI_SERVER_HOST == "gitlab.com"
If your project is in the
gitlab-orggroup, you don't need to set up any token as the
DANGER_GITLAB_API_TOKENvariable is available at the group level. If not, follow these last steps:
- Create a Project access tokens.
- Add the token as a CI/CD project variable named
You should add the ~"Danger bot" label to the merge request before sending it for review.
Here is a (non-exhaustive) list of the kinds of things Danger has been used for at GitLab so far:
- Coding style
- Database review
- Documentation review
- Merge request metrics
- Reviewer roulette
- Single codebase effort
Danger is run but its output is not added to a merge request comment if working on a fork. This happens because the secret variable from the canonical project is not shared to forks.
Configuring Danger for forks
Contributors can configure Danger for their forks with the following steps:
- Create a personal API token
that has the
apiscope set (don't forget to copy it to the clipboard).
- In your fork, add a project CI/CD variable
DANGER_GITLAB_API_TOKENwith the token copied in the previous step.
- Make the variable masked so it doesn't show up in the job logs. The variable cannot be protected, because it needs to be present for all branches.