Jenkins DevKit: Automating Jenkins

Previously we created a small JenkinsDevKit using Docker-Compose, and then automated installation of plug-ins and a basic configuration.

In this article, we’ll cover how to seed a Jenkins server with jobs and pipelines. We will use two plug-ins to do this magic:

Previous Article

Highly recommend running through this tutorial that will show how to create initial Jenkins DevKit using Docker Compose, and automates plugin installation and initial server configuration:

Required Tools

You need the following environments:

  • Docker: either Docker CE and Docker Compose for Linux; or Docker Desktop for macOS. [Windows not supported, see NOTE below]
  • Bash shell (optional): instructions in this guide are oriented toward using Bash.
  • Curl (optional): you may need to download scripts if you skipped the previous article.

NOTE: This guide for local dev environment will use Unix sockets. As Unix sockets are not supported in Windows, this guide will not work for Windows operating system.

Introduction to Pipeline As Code

Jenkins 2.0 introduced Pipelines, where you can define steps in a complex process that allows you…

to model, orchestrate and visualize [the] entire delivery pipeline.

The term Pipeline-As-Code represents using code to develop pipelines, rather than creating Pipelines in a web console. Jenkins 2.0 popularized this though use of Jenkinsfile scripts written in groovy language that allow you to script your stages and steps of a pipelines.

When creating a pipeline script, you have two approaches:

  • declarative pipeline: DSL-like script using within a pipeline {} block
  • scripted pipeline: imperative groovy script within a node{} block

Declarative Pipeline Example

Below is an example of a declarative pipeline:


This declarative pipeline will use a generic ruby image as the build agent, and then runs the following activities in these steps:

  1. Install Bundler v2
  2. Install package manifest using bundler (Gemfile)
  3. Use rake tool to run the tests
  4. Use Junit plugin to present results visually

Scripted Pipeline Example

In the scripted pipeline approach, you will have full control of every step of the code explicitly, which obviously requires more debugging, but has the advantage of giving you greater control.


In this example, the approach is different than using a generic ruby image to test the api server. We build an image and then run the tests within that image:

  1. Checkout the code specified in the PipelineJob configuration
  2. Build the docker image, which comes with our api server and test code
  3. Run tests within the image
  4. Use Junit plugin to present results visually

Automating Pipeline Jobs

In this section, we’ll create some jobs that use a declarative pipeline (Jenkinsfile) from the remote git repository. These will be a simple pipeline that will run tests on a build agent (which is either a generic ruby or python docker image).

The jobs themselves are defined using JobDSL and seeded on a new Jenkins server using Jenkins CasC (Configuration-as-Code).

Step 1: Project Home

We should have a current structure under $HOME/jenkins-kit directory that looks like this:

├── Dockerfile
├── docker-compose.yaml
├── jenkins.yaml
└── plugins.txt

We’ll add some more files with these commands:

cd ~/projects/jenkins-kit
mkdir jobdsl
touch jobs.yaml jobdsl/hello_{flask,ruby}.groovy

This will result in the following files:

├── Dockerfile
├── docker-compose.yaml
├── jenkins.yaml
├── jobdsl
│ ├── hello_flask.groovy
│ └── hello_sinatra.groovy
├── jobs.yaml
└── plugins.txt

Step 2: Existing Files

From the previous article, we should have the following files:

  • Docker Compose script (docker-compose.yaml)
  • Docker build script (Dockerfile)
  • Plugins manifest (plugins.txt)
  • Jenkins Configuration (jenkins.yaml)

If you have not ran through previous article, you can quickly fetch them using curl:

# env vars for readability
# download files
curl -s $GIST_PREFIX/$GISTID_PLUGIN_LST/raw/ > plugins.txt
curl -s $GIST_PREFIX/$GISTID_DOCKERFILE/raw/ > Dockerfile
curl -s $GIST_PREFIX/$GISTID_JENKINSCFG/raw/ > jenkins.yaml
curl -s $GIST_PREFIX/$GISTID_DKRCOMPOSE/raw/ > docker-compose.yaml

Step 3: Create Job Configurations

We can use Jenkins CasC to configure jobs in addition to Jenkins server configuration. Jenkins CasC will then use JobDSL to create the jobs.

Add the following content to jobs.yaml:


This script will create a folder called testjobs, and then seed the Jenkins server with two jobs that are fetched from the local file system.

We could easily embed the full JobDSL groovy script in the YAML, but personally I find that embedded scripts inside YAML are less readable and harder to maintain.

Step 4: Create Pipeline Jobs

In the previous article, I referenced two repositories for using Sinatra and Flask web microframeworks to do a small hello-world demo API:

We can create new Pipeline jobs that will load a pipeline script (Jenkinsfile) from the remote repository.

First edit the jobdsl/hello_flask.groovy script and add this:


Next edit the jobdsl/hello_sinatra.groovy script and add this:


Step 4: Update Docker Compose Script

Now that we have our jobs defined, we need to update the docker compose script to support seeding Jenkins with these jobs at startup.

The two magical lines of note:

- ./jobs.yaml:/var/jenkins_home/casc_configs/jobs.yaml                             - ./jobdsl:/var/jenkins_home/casc_configs/jobdsl/

This adds our jobs.yaml CasC script to the designated directory defined by CASC_JENKINS_CONFIG env variable.

The other line just mounts the directory containing the JobDSL groovy scripts into the container, so that CasC can access them.

Step 5: Test the Solution

Now with everything ready to go, we can bring up our local Jenkins DevKit environment:

docker-compose build
docker-compose up

Once it comes up, you can point your web browser to http://localhost:8080.

Running Pipeline Jobs

On the Jenkins server (http://localhost:8080), and you’ll see the testjobs folder with the two jobs we created.

Instead of using the default Jenkins UI, click on the BlueOcean item on the left to bring up this interface.

Click on the testjobs / hello-flask and run it.

This will run through installing python module requirements, and running the tests. When completed, you can see the results by clicking on the Tests button at top.

You can click on the testjobs / hello-flask in the upper left, then Jenkins to get back to where we were, and now click on testjobs / hello-sinatra, and when prompted, hit Run.

This will run through building installing the ruby gems and then running the tests. Once completed, click on Tests button at top to see the results.


Pipelines As Code


This guide’s purpose was to introduce automating the creation of jobs, installing (seeding) jobs at startup, and an introduction to pipelines with Pipeline As Code Jenkinsfile.

In the future, I would to cover using triggers with githooks, pushing artifacts, and credentials. Stay tuned.



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