Travis CI: easy and fun CI for your Plone packages (Nejc Zupan)

A talk about Travis CI: hosted continuous integration for the open source community.

Ideally you run the tests of a project often (on every commit) in a clean environment. This way you can make sure that not only the product works properly, but also that the buildout of the product works on a clean system. That last part is really helpful during sprints: if someone cannot get the buildout running, it’s most likely the problem of the machine of the developer, not the product itself.

If you haven’t seen the tutorial.todoapp then definitely check it out. It shows some great best practises, including tests and CI.

Travis is free for any public GitHub repository. You can also have paid subscriptions for private builds.

Update (2021-08-02)
Unfortunately Travis CI changed their terms so please do your own research to determine whether Travis CI is indeed free for your use-case.

Travis already ran 757k tests for +10k open source projects. They are crowd funded: +120k USD from +700 people. They support a lot of programming languages and preinstalled DBs (you only have to enable them).

Travis is very easy to setup. To get started you:

  • Sign in to with your GitHub account.
  • Enable a repository.
  • Add a .travis.yml file.
  • Push the .travis.yml file.

Example of a very simple .travis.yml file:

language: python
  - 2.7
  - python
  - bin/buildout
  - bin/test

(Note that because the tests are run from a clean Ubuntu install, you have to have a buildout configured for you project.)

With Jenkins it is harder to get started. With Travis the minimal configuration is quite simple. But you can get more complex if you want to. The drawback is that you only get the console output. With Jenkins you can get more information (e.g. coverage reports).

There are a number of services on the default Ubuntu image that is used. You just have to enable them. For instance, the X Virtual Frame Buffer.

You can whitelist or blacklist branches of your repository. This prevents errors when you are just trying things out. If you want to skip a specific build from being tested, you can add “[ci skip]” to the commit message.

Build notifications can be sent. Mail and IRC are the most common ones, but many more options are available.

There is Travis browser extensions that will show you the Travis status of a project when you go to the page. If you want to, you can also create a status image ([YOUR_GITHUB_USERNAME]/[YOUR_PROJECT_NAME].png), e.g for on your PyPI page.

You can also have pull request testing. If someone issues a pull request from a branch, Travis merges the code and you get a notification whether the pull request is good to merge because the tests succeed (or not). You can even see the status per commit (if there is some back-and-forth on an issue for example).

Limitations of Travis: there’s a 15 minute build runtime limit.1 The limit is for the entire build—from start to the end of the test. And since the build starts from scratch every time, this may be an issue. And again, the reporting is still limited.

Tips to speed up the build:

  • Use a non-ancient zc.buildout version (1.6+)
  • Proper configuration (add “socket-timeout = 3” and “allow-hosts = ...” to the [buildout] section)
  • Use Asko Soukka’s trick to speed up your Plone add-on tests on Travis CI: download the unified installer and extract that to your buildout cache.

Nejc would like to see Travis and Jenkins go hand in hand in Plone.

Advantages of Travis CI:

  • New developers with broken builds.
  • Can also be used for non-Plone packages (simple Python libraries).
  • It’s cool to do public CI for company owned public packages. This way others can contribute and see if their build succeeds.

View the slides or watch the video.

  1. Update (2021-08-02): This information also looks outdated. Please refer to the Travis CI documentation ↩︎