Automatic releases of npm packages with GitHub actions

17 August 2020
2 min read

Recently I implemented a new cool feature to one of the npm packages I develop. Later this day, I was showing it to a friend, and ... nothing worked. What a shame, I forgot to publish the package. The feature successfully passed the tests, and was pushed to the package GitHub repository but no one could not enjoy it anyway. Is there anything to help to avoid such situations? Yes, it is GitHub Actions — automated workflows that can run different jobs, including publishing packages to npm.

Setting up a workflow is surprisingly simple: you only need to create a .yml file in .github/workflows folder. A file could have any name as there can be more than one workflow.

Here is the content of my .github/workflow/gatsby-theme-npm-publish.yml

name: Gatsby theme npm package

      - master

    runs-on: ubuntu-latest
      working-directory: ./gatsby-theme
      - uses: actions/checkout@v2
      - uses: actions/setup-node@v1
          node-version: 12
      - run: npm install -g yarn
      - name: install packages
        run: yarn
        working-directory: ${{env.working-directory}}
      - name: publish
        run: npm publish
        working-directory: ${{env.working-directory}}
          NODE_AUTH_TOKEN: ${{secrets.npm_token}}

As you can see, the jobs run on every push to the master branch. There are a couple of special details in this workflow.

Note that the package build is made not in the root directory but in the gatsby-theme directory. This repository hosts several packages, this is why. To run the commands in the correct context, I had to specify the directory. For that, I first define the working-directory variable in the env section of the job and later use it az ${{env.working-directory}}.

Another detail is providing an authorization token for npm. Such tokens are to generate on the website:

npm token1

Click on the Create new token button.

npm token2

And choose to create a token with the right to publish.

npm token3

Copy the token you got into the clipboard.

After that, you need to add this token to the secrets of your repository. Go to the Settings tab of the repository:

github token1

Find the Secrets page in the sidebar.

github token2

Create a new secret.

github token3

Put the npm token which you have in the clipboard to the texarea and give it a name, say npm_token.

github token4

This name is what has to be provided as a value of NODE_AUTH_TOKEN variable in the env section of the npm publish command.

NODE_AUTH_TOKEN: ${{secrets.npm_token}}

Voilà! Now I have the npm package automatically published every time the master branch is updated.

github workflow

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