Skip to content

Define inputs for configuration added with include

DETAILS: Tier: Free, Premium, Ultimate Offering: SaaS, self-managed

  • Introduced in GitLab 15.11 as a Beta feature.
  • Made generally available in GitLab 16.6.

Use inputs to increase the flexibility of CI/CD configuration files that are designed to be reused.

Inputs can use CI/CD variables, but have the same variable limitations as the include keyword.

Define input parameters with spec:inputs

Use spec:inputs to define input parameters for CI/CD configuration intended to be added to a pipeline with include. Use include:inputs to pass input values when building the configuration for a pipeline.

The specs must be declared at the top of the configuration file, in a header section. Separate the header from the rest of the configuration with ---.

Use the interpolation format $[[ inputs.input-id ]] outside the header section to replace the values. The inputs are evaluated and interpolated when the configuration is fetched during pipeline creation, but before the configuration is merged with the contents of the .gitlab-ci.yml file.

For example, in a file named custom_website_scan.yml:


  stage: $[[ inputs.job-stage ]]
  script: ./scan-website $[[ inputs.environment ]]

When using spec:inputs:

  • Inputs are mandatory by default.
  • Validation errors are returned if:
    • A string containing an interpolation block exceeds 1 MB.
    • The string inside an interpolation block exceeds 1 KB.

Additionally, use:

  • spec:inputs:default to define default values for inputs when not specified. When you specify a default, the inputs are no longer mandatory.
  • spec:inputs:description to give a description to a specific input. The description does not affect the input, but can help people understand the input details or expected values.
  • spec:inputs:options to specify a list of allowed values for an input.
  • spec:inputs:regex to specify a regular expression that the input must match.
  • spec:inputs:type to force a specific input type, which can be string (default when not specified), number, or boolean.

Define inputs with multiple parameters

You can define multiple inputs per CI/CD configuration file, and each input can have multiple configuration parameters.

For example, in a file named scan-website-job.yml:

    job-prefix:     # Mandatory string input
      description: "Define a prefix for the job name"
    job-stage:      # Optional string input with a default value when not provided
      default: test
    environment:    # Mandatory input that must match one of the options
      options: ['test', 'staging', 'production']
      type: number  # Optional numeric input with a default value when not provided
      default: 1
    version:        # Mandatory string input that must match the regular expression
      type: string
      regex: /^v\d\.\d+(\.\d+)$/
    export_results: # Optional boolean input with a default value when not provided
      type: boolean
      default: true

"$[[ inputs.job-prefix ]]-scan-website":
  stage: $[[ inputs.job-stage ]]
    - echo "scanning website -e $[[ inputs.environment ]] -c $[[ inputs.concurrency ]] -v $[[ inputs.version ]]"
    - if [ $[[ inputs.export_results ]] ]; then echo "export results"; fi

In this example:

  • job-prefix is a mandatory string input and must be defined.
  • job-stage is optional. If not defined, the value is test.
  • environment is a mandatory string input that must match one of the defined options.
  • concurrency is an optional numeric input. When not specified, it defaults to 1.
  • version is a mandatory string input that must match the specified regular expression.
  • export_results is an optional boolean input. When not specified, it defaults to true.

Multi-line input string values

Inputs support different value types. You can pass multi-string values using the following format:

      description: Message to announce when an issue is closed.
      default: 'Hi {{author}} :wave:,

        Based on the policy for inactive issues, this is now being closed.

        If this issue requires further attention, please reopen this issue.'

Set input values when using include

Use include:inputs to set the values for the parameters when the included configuration is added to the pipeline.

For example, to include the scan-website-job.yml in the example above:

  - local: 'scan-website-job.yml'
      job-prefix: 'some-service-'
      environment: 'staging'
      concurrency: 2
      version: 'v1.3.2'
      export_results: false

In this example, the inputs for the included configuration are:

Input Value Details
job-prefix some-service- Must be explicitly defined.
job-stage test Not defined in include:inputs, so the value comes from spec:inputs:default in the included configuration.
environment staging Must be explicitly defined, and must match one of the values in spec:inputs:options in the included configuration.
concurrency 2 Must be a numeric value to match the spec:inputs:type set to number in the included configuration. Overrides the default value.
version v1.3.2 Must be explicitly defined, and must match the regular expression in the spec:inputs:regex in the included configuration.
export_results false Must be either true or false to match the spec:inputs:type set to boolean in the included configuration. Overrides the default value.

Use include:inputs with multiple files

inputs must be specified separately for each included file. For example:

  - component:
      stage: my-stage
  - local: path/to/file.yml
      stage: my-stage

Include the same file multiple times

You can include the same file multiple times, with different inputs. However, if multiple jobs with the same name are added to one pipeline, each additional job overwrites the previous job with the same name. You must ensure the configuration prevents duplicate job names.

For example, including the same configuration multiple times with different inputs:

  - local: path/to/my-super-linter.yml
      type: docs
      lint-path: "doc/"
  - local: path/to/my-super-linter.yml
      type: yaml
      lint-path: "data/yaml/"

The configuration in path/to/my-super-linter.yml ensures the job has a unique name each time it is included:

"run-$[[ inputs.type ]]-lint":
  script: ./lint --$[[ inputs.type ]] --path=$[[ inputs.lint-path ]]

Specify functions to manipulate input values

You can specify predefined functions in the interpolation block to manipulate the input value. The format supported is the following:

$[[ input.input-id | <function1> | <function2> | ... <functionN> ]]


  • Only predefined interpolation functions are permitted.
  • A maximum of 3 functions may be specified in a single interpolation block.
  • The functions are executed in the sequence they are specified.
      default: 'test $MY_VAR'

  script: echo $[[ inputs.test | expand_vars | truncate(5,8) ]]

In this example, assuming the input uses the default value and $MY_VAR is an unmasked project variable with value my value:

  1. First, the function expand_vars expands the value to test my value.
  2. Then truncate applies to test my value with a character offset of 5 and length 8.
  3. The output of script would be echo my value.

Predefined interpolation functions


Use expand_vars to expand CI/CD variables in the input value.

Only variables you can use with the include keyword and which are not masked can be expanded. Nested variable expansion is not supported.


      default: 'test $MY_VAR'

  script: echo $[[ inputs.test | expand_vars ]]

In this example, if $MY_VAR is unmasked (exposed in job logs) with a value of my value, then the input would expand to test my value.


Use truncate to shorten the interpolated value. For example:

  • truncate(<offset>,<length>)
Name Type Description
offset Integer Number of characters to offset by.
length Integer Number of characters to return after the offset.


$[[ inputs.test | truncate(3,5) ]]

Assuming the value of inputs.test is 0123456789, then the output would be 34567.


YAML syntax errors when using inputs

CI/CD variable expressions in rules:if expect a comparison of a CI/CD variable with a string, otherwise a variety of syntax errors could be returned.

You must ensure that expressions remain properly formatted after input values are inserted into the configuration, which might require the use of additional quote characters.

For example:

      default: $CI_DEFAULT_BRANCH

    - if: $CI_COMMIT_REF_NAME == $[[ inputs.branch ]]

In this example:

  • Using include: inputs: branch: $CI_DEFAULT_BRANCH is valid. The if: clause evaluates to if: $CI_COMMIT_REF_NAME == $CI_DEFAULT_BRANCH, which is a valid variable expression.
  • Using include: inputs: branch: main is invalid. The if: clause evaluates to if: $CI_COMMIT_REF_NAME == main, which is invalid because main is a string but is not quoted.

Alternatively, add quotes to resolve some variable expression issues. For example:

      default: "$ENVIRONMENT"

$[[ inputs.environment | expand_vars ]] job:
  script: echo
    - if: '"$[[ inputs.environment1 | expand_vars ]]" == "production"'

In this example, quoting the input block and also the entire variable expression ensures valid if: syntax after the input is evaluated. The internal and external quotes in the expression must not be the same character. You can use " for the internal quotes and ' for the external quotes, or the inverse. On the other hand, the job name does not require any quoting.