Automation story: GraphQL schema deployment

Building a new automation to give power to my team

At Atomist, we supply a GraphQL endpoint to reveal links between commits, builds, deploys, and people. Internally, we also use GraphQL to access data in Neo4J. To do that, we need to deploy a schema definition (IDL) to the Neo4j GraphQL extension.

Software evolves from simple to rigorous. In the experimental stage (“do we want to use this?”) I constructed a schema.idl and pushed it to Neo4J by hand. One person doing all the schema is okay for a little while, but not for production. I want other people to improve the schema, too! So I automated its path from a GitHub commit to the database. Now any member of our team can deploy a new schema, and they’re even prompted to do it in Slack after they push a change to schema.idl.

This automation lives in an Atomist automation client, which turns a program I could run locally into one my whole team can run. I pushed it up to the cloud, and now the whole team has my power to deploy the schema.

First, I made a command that retrieves the file from GitHub and posts it to Neo4J. The passwords and URLs are all in one place (my automation deployment), so people don’t need their own database login to upgrade the schema. The command can be triggered in Slack, or from a REST API (web form coming soon). Now everyone can deploy the schema.

I type “@atomist deploy graphql schema” and Atomist reports in the relevant channel that I did it.

This replaces two account creations, three logins, two curl commands, and some cryptic JSON interpretation with one “@atomist deploy graphql schema” message in Slack. Then I made it even better.

Next, I made an automation that recognizes when the schema.idl file changes, since that one is significant. It reports that significance back to Atomist, and this shows up in Slack as part of the standard Atomist report about commits pushed to GitHub. This is a way of noticing which commits affect different parts of the system.

Atomist reports a commit on the test-graphql-deploy branch; that the commit has a change to the graphql-schema, that two builds are in progress and there are no other blockers.

Finally, another automation responds to that change in schema.idl and pops a Slack message into the channel with a button! Push the button, and that “deploy graphql schema” command updates the schema in Neo4J, either the staging database (if you pushed the change to a branch) or production (if it’s mainline). Super convenient!

Atomist says, The GraphQL schema was updated in branch test-graphql-deploy. there’s a button “push to staging.” I pushed it. Atomist reports that I updated the schema.

This small piece of infrastructure matures our internal GraphQL implementation; it’s trackable, repeatable, safe, and quick. It’s easier for me, and a new power for the rest of the team — they didn’t even bother touching it before, and now they can. I love turning complicated READMEs into happy, timely buttons in Slack!

You can make a big piece of software more mature with a small automation.

Find the code for my automation here. If you’d like to hear more details about how to implement this example, so that you can do this kind of automation on your team, clap for this post or ping me in the Atomist community Slack. (Or get started right away with a Quick Start.) I’d love to hear from you.