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buildbot front-end incarnation

Project Description

buildbot automation

What is autobot?

autobot is a continuous integration solution built as a front-end to buildbot. We have a lot of software. We’re talented, so usually it doesn’t break. But we’re not infalliable. Our robot ally, autobot, is there to test things for us. Let’s meet autobot!

Installing autobot

autobot may be installed using the install script:

curl | bash

This will create a virtualenv and install autobot for development ($VIRTUAL_ENV/src/autobot). You can also use the script as instructions and install it in the same manner as any other python package.

Setting up a buildmaster and slave

Once you have autobot installed and the virtualenv activated, you’ll want to create a buildmaster and a buildslave.

You can create a master-slave pair by running create-autobot after activating the virtualenv. This is mostly useful for autobot development. The scripts create-autobot-master and create-autobot-slave are also available and are more useful for production, as normally you will not want to keep the master and the slave on the same machine except for development and testing. The scripts will prompt you for a factory or you can specify one or more from the commandline using --factory or -f. The factories are from autobot.projects and its subdirectories. You can list the available factories with create-autobot --list-factories (or create-autobot-master --list-factories).

Running create-autobot --help will give the variables you can set when it makes a new bot for you (create-autobot-master and create-autobot-slave also have a --help, the variables in create-autobot being a superset of these).

If you don’t specify a variable, the default will be used to create your particular bot. You can change these in the resultant configuration later.

Using autobot

The buildmaster and buildslave are started with buildbot start master and buildslave stop slave from the bot’s directories. Respective stop commands also exist. If you used the create-autobot command the generated bot will have a script that will stop and start both the master and slave and (if debug is set) remove the log as well.

The generated master.cfg file reads values from a master.ini file in the same directory. The master.ini contains a number of different sections:

  • [:master:] contains the top level configuration for the master as well as default settings for slaves
  • sections like [slave:slavename] indicate a slave of name slavename
  • all other sections are construction parameters for factories

The format of the .ini file is detailed in the subsequent section. You may change which .ini file is used by editing the master.cfg file, or, if for whatever reason you don’t want to use an .ini file as a driver you can construct the appropriate configuration therein yourself.

An overview of the build status is detailed at the waterfall display, by default at http://localhost:8010/waterfall . To force a build, click on the desired builder and there will be a force build button towards the bottom.

It is important to remember that continuous integration is a safety net, not a first line of defense. In other words, continue to check your code before sending it to autobot.

.ini file format

As stated above, a master.ini file contains three different types of sections:

  • [:master:] contains the top level configuration for the master as well as default settings for slaves
  • sections like [slave:slavename] indicate a slave of name slavename
  • other sections are construction parameters for factories

What goes in each of these?

:master: The master section contains parameters appropriate to the buildmaster:

  • slaveport: which port to listen for the slaves on
  • htmlport: which port to serve the waterfall display on
  • pollInterval: how often to poll the repositories, in seconds [DEFAULT: 60]
  • treeStable: how long to wait before the tree settles down before building [DEFAULT: 60]

The other defaults may be seen by running create-autobot-master --help.

Other parameters given in the [:master:] section are used as the baseline defaults for each slave. They may be overridden in each slave: section

slave: parameters for each slave:

  • password: each slave must have a password. Unless there’s a reason to have a different password per slave, its probably better to put this in the :master: section
  • factories: space-separated list of factories to run on that slave. If the special value * is used, all factories will be run. You can view the factories available with create-autobot --list-factories. The factory name corresponds to the directory (or module) name in autobot.projects. If every slave is meant to run the same factories, you can put this in the :master: section
  • os: the operating system of the slave. Should be one of linux, win, or mac (though see TODO about future use of MozInfo making this obselescent). You probably shouldn’t have a default key for this in the :master: section (though autobot won’t try to stop you!).

factory sections: All other sections are used to build the factories. Each parameter in a factory section is used as a constructor (__init__) keyword argument when they are created in the master.cfg. So a factory section like:

bar = fleem
baz = another parameter

will invoke the foo factory (lets say it maps to MyFooFactory) on each slave like:

MyFooFactory(**dict(bar='fleem', baz='another parameter'))

In addition, if a factory has a special key, platform, the slave will pass its platform information when instantiating a factory. Currently, this is a dict with a single key, os, but more may be added as needed. As noted in the TODO below, ideally this would be deprecated entirely by MozInfo but such is the interim solution.


autobot.process.factory:SourceFactory is an abstract base class for specifying sources. Sources live as a member on the instance, named (oddly) sources. This is a dict with the key being the source type and the value being the source to use. Source types are currently “git” and “hg”, though this is easily extensible.

Internally, an individual source is stored as a 2-tuple with the first item being the URL of the source and the second item being the branch. If the branch is None or not specified, this is assumed to equate to master for git or default for hg. However, you may also use a string in the form of URL#branch. In addition, you may specify a whitespace separated source, which SourceFactory will split into a list of sources.

The generated master.cfg polls for changes on the given source, then uses buildbot.schedulers.filter:Changefilter in conjunction with a Scheduler to trigger the appropriate builds. This is done by GitPoller and HgPoller in autobot.changes.poller. Again, more pollers can be added as needed or the provided buildbot change sources may be utilized.

While, in general, the canonical sources should be specified at the class level, if an appropriate argument (e.g. hg or git) is passed in to the SourceFactory constructor, this will override that source type. This is useful for testing changes on non-canonical URLs and/or branches.

Adding a New Project

Occassionally, you’ll need to add a new project to test. You can add a file to a directory under autobot.projects and, if you have a factory therein, autobot will find it and add it to the list of factories it knows about.

There is also a script, create-autobot-project, that can create this stub for you:

Usage: create-autobot-project [options] project <output>

project is the name of the project and output, if specified, is the path of the file to create. If output is not specified, it will find its way to a directory named for the project under autobot.projects.

Several factories (BuildFactory descendents) are in autobot.process to make building a new project easier:

  • SourceFactory: as described above, this processes the sources and gives a method (checkout()) for downloading them. master.cfg looks in each factory and gleems its needed repository from its sources attribute (if any) in the internal storage mechanism of SourceFactory and sets up schedulers accordingly.
  • VirtualenvFactory: inherits from SourceFactory. creates a python virtualenv and provides build properties %(virtualenv)s, %(python)s, and %(scripts)s (location of bin on unix or Scripts on windows with respect to the virtualenv. It also has a findScript() method which accepts the unix-style script name (no extension) and returns the path to the script on the platform.
  • PythonSourceFactory: inherits from VirtualenvFactory. It treats all (for now, can be changed) sources as sources of python packages. In addition to checking them out in %(virtualenv)s/src, it will also install them (using %(python)s install)

See the autobot.process.factory file for more details. These classes are intended as mix-ins (not my favorite pattern, but it seems to basically be what buildbot wants you to do). More work needs to be done to provide for the breadth of use-cases, but what exists now is considered a “good start” versus a “final form”. More factories may be added per necessity.

Is your autobot being feisty?

Let me know! I’d like to make autobot a solution that works for all stake-holders, and if you’re reading this, that means you!


No software of any size is ever finished. Here are a few things I would like to add:

  • email notifications
  • singular checkout of repos on slaves: the slaves should have a singular master repo that is checked out once for each repo URL, branch pair. It is then updated as the slaves need and (e.g.) cloned from there. This should effectively minimize fetch time.
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