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Published: Mar 2021
Updated: Jul 2021

Codefresh is a hosted and hybrid deployment pipeline solution. It may be used for testing and or deploying software. All steps in the pipeline run as Docker containers. Users can create reusable custom steps as well. Users can opt for the hosted version or host their runner on their own Kubernetes cluster.


Hooks and Steps Do Not Share Env Vars

Last encountered: Jan 2021

Codefresh Hooks appear to act like regular steps. You may consider using a hook and cf_export to set variables for all future steps in the pipeline. This does not work. Hooks and steps do not share the same context. In fact, they don’t even have access to pipeline variables. Variables must be passed in directly to hooks.

Custom Steps Use Prerelease Versions

Last encountered: March 2021

Codefresh Steps use semantic versioning. If a pipeline step version is not declared then the “latest” version is used. Unfortunately “latest” includes prerelease versions.

Consider this step definition with the current version of 1.0.0.

  type: myorg/custom

Then you release myorg/custom:2.0.0-beta1. The foo step will now use the 2.0.0-beta1 release even though it’s not considered a stable release.

There is no known solution pinning steps to always use the latest “stable” version. Codefresh has the “incubating” or “stable” channels for each step but these do not apply to releases. They only apply to how they’re presented in the UI.

Conflicting Step & Pipeline Services

Last encountered: March 2021

Codefresh Services may be declared at the pipeline level (they run for all steps) or at the step level (run for a single step). These are mutually exclusive. If you delcare pipeline services and step services then only the step services will run for that step.

Undefined Variable Literals

Last encountered: March 2021

Codefresh Variables may be referenced using ${{NAME}} in the pipeline definition or as environment variables in commands ($NAME or ${NAME} depending on your shell and/or preference).

Say you reference ${{FOO}} somewhere in the pipeline definition. If FOO is set then value is interpolated. If FOO is not set then value is left as a literal ${{FOO}}. This is especially annoying when dealing with optional variables (say those that may be set on different triggers).

You’ll need to check if the value matches a variable format to decide if a true value is provided.

Here’s an example:

if echo "${FOO}" | grep -qE '\$\{\{.+\}\}'; then
  echo "FOO not provided"
  echo "FOO=${FOO}"

This is only possible inside commands. There is no way to check the variable in the pipeline definition. You may be able to do this with conditional steps though.

Custom Step Environment Variables

Last encountered: March 2021

Pipeline variables outside the system provided variables are not automatically set on custom steps. I guess this is because of security reasons? If this were true then any step would see all variables (including secrets). This would make it possible for attacks to write steps like env | upload-to-remove-server. Anyway the end result is that you cannot assume custom steps have access to pipeline environment variables.

There is a workaround. You can use the stepTemplate to capture env variables and set them in the environment list. You’ll have to deal with the other gotcha that undefined variables are not interpolated. Here’s an example:

stepsTemplate: |-
    name: example
    image: example
      - KUBE_CONTEXT=[[ default "${{KUBE_CONTEXT}}" .Arguments.KUBE_CONTEXT ]]

This template takes the KUBE_CONTEXT argument or uses the KUBE_CONTEXT variable from the pipeline. If the KUBE_CONTEXT is not set then the step will receive a literal ${{KUBE_CONTEXT}} for KUBE_CONTEXT. Step authors are advised to always validate env vars.

Exporting Environment Variables in Steps

Last encountered: April 2021

Exporting environment variables in your own steps and custom steps is different. The docs refer to cf_export. This is for your exporting env vars in your own steps. Do not use this when writing custom steps. Custom steps should echo export FOO=bar >> /meta/env. Apparently the /meta/env is a special file that Codefresh reads when authoring custom steps.

Pipeline Template Variable Limitations

Last encountered: March 2021

You may assume that you can reference variable using the ${{var}} syntax anywhere in the pipeline YAML file. This is not the case. These “pipeline” variables (or whatever they’re called) do not work everywhere. They work most places.

Here’s an example.

    type: build
    # ....

    image: foo
      - echo ${{build}}

This does not work. The ${{build}} step variable may only be used in certain places in the YAML file.