Adding Code Climate to Your Workflow

The most common way to use Code Climate is as part of a pull request workflow. With this approach, your team gets static analysis results on every change, and is able to see the exact impact of your pull request, prior to merging those changes.

If your team doesn't use a pull request-based workflow, no problem! Check out the Master Branch Workflows section of this article to learn more about using Code Climate with a single branch workflow.

Status Updates

Code Climate provides two types of commit statuses for GitHub pull requests, to help you decide at-a-glance if the code should be merged or not. The first status is a pass/fail status for quality, security, or style issues. The second status shows changes in test coverage. Theses statuses are enabled by default for all new and private GitHub repositories, when added by a GitHub linked user:

Issue statuses are also available for GitLab merge requests. Check out the documentation to enable!

We’ll dive into test coverage a bit later. For now, let’s look at how the pass/fail status fits into your workflow.

The Code Climate workflow steps are:

  1. Open a pull request against your default branch.
  2. After you open the pull request, Code Climate runs the analysis. You can fine tune which checks can fail your pull requests by configuring checks on a repo by repo basis.
  3. Once the analysis has run, results are pushed back to the pull request with a pass/fail status, summary of what changed, and a link back to the complete analysis.
  4. You decide whether or not to merge the pull request, based on the results.

If no new issues are found, the pull request passes, as seen in the example above. However, if the pull request has one or more new issues, it’s marked as “failed”:

What to do when issues are found

When a pull request is failed, the next step is to discuss among your team, and iterate based on those discussions. For each new issue, you might consider the the following next steps:

  • If it’s a violation of an agreed upon code standard or style guide, make the fixes
  • For code quality questions like duplication and large classes, you can use Code Climate’s analysis as a starting point for a conversation with the broader team. In some cases you may choose to not take any actions, and that’s okay!
  • If it’s a false positive or something you wish to ignore, follow the documentation to exclude those issues.

Setting a Required Status

Required checks are a great way to ensure that only code meeting your team’s standards is merged into protected branches. The administrator of your GitHub repository can set Code Climate as a required status check via the repository settings on GitHub – detailed directions can be found in their Enabling required status checks doc.

The most common implementation for required checks is that pull requests with a “failed” status cannot be merged except by a repository admin. For this reason, it’s especially important to do the following before setting up any new required status checks:

  1. Establish a process for discussing, resolving, and possibly merging failed pull requests.
    Code Climate will post a failed status if any issues are found – even if it’s the type of issue that your team agrees doesn’t need to be addressed right away (as with duplication or large classes in the above example of What to do when issues are found). That’s why it’s important for your team to set up a quick review process for “failed” pull requests, and to have a means for merging the PRs your team agrees are acceptable.
  1. Tell your team!
    Make sure everyone knows what to do if a pull request is failed, and how code gets merged – or not – at that point.

Adding the GitHub Browser Extension

Our GitHub Browser Extension ensures code quality and test coverage data is constantly visible throughout your development workflow, so your team can get, discuss, and act on all of this information without leaving GitHub!

The Code Climate browser extension is listed in the Google Chrome Web Store. Open the web store page, then follow Chrome's normal extension install process.

The browser extension piggybacks on your Code Climate user session, so once installed, all you need do is login to Code Climate to begin using it for your private repositories. Results will display for any GitHub open source repositories already added to Code Climate regardless of authentication.

Next up, we'll look at how easy it is to add test coverage reporting to your Code Climate analysis so you have a complete picture of your codebase’s health.

Master Branch Workflows

If your team doesn't use a pull request based workflow, and instead develops everything in your project's Master branch, Code Climate can show you just how your repository is changing over time.

As you make commits to your default branch, we'll post notifications in your Feed, making you aware of certain events happening.

We’ll post an update to your Feed when:

  • A file's letter grade increases or decreases. For example, a Ruby or PHP file goes from a C to a B.
  • New code is added to your codebase. The Feed will show you its initial grade.
  • Test coverage improves or declines.

We’ll also post a weekly summary to your Feed (on Monday, U.S. Eastern Time), which shows information like how many files were changed, inserted, and deleted in the past seven days.

From your Feed page, you can see when Code Climate last analyzed your repository, by looking in the top-right corner of the Feed page for the SHA value of the most recent commit to your default branch analyzed by Code Climate.

Check our Feed doc for more detail about all the features of your repository's Feed page.

Adding Code Climate to Your Workflow