Tutorial: Create and run your first GitLab CI/CD pipeline (FREE)

This tutorial shows you how to configure and run your first CI/CD pipeline in GitLab.


Before you start, make sure you have:

  • A project in GitLab that you would like to use CI/CD for.
  • The Maintainer or Owner role for the project.

If you don't have a project, you can create a public project for free on https://gitlab.com.


To create and run your first pipeline:

  1. Ensure you have runners available to run your jobs.

    If you're using GitLab.com, you can skip this step. GitLab.com provides shared runners for you.

  2. Create a .gitlab-ci.yml file at the root of your repository. This file is where you define the CI/CD jobs.

When you commit the file to your repository, the runner runs your jobs. The job results are displayed in a pipeline.

Ensure you have runners available

In GitLab, runners are agents that run your CI/CD jobs.

To view available runners:

  • Go to Settings > CI/CD and expand Runners.

As long as you have at least one runner that's active, with a green circle next to it, you have a runner available to process your jobs.

If you don't have a runner

If you don't have a runner:

  1. Install GitLab Runner on your local machine.
  2. Register the runner for your project. Choose the shell executor.

When your CI/CD jobs run, in a later step, they will run on your local machine.

Create a .gitlab-ci.yml file

Now create a .gitlab-ci.yml file. It is a YAML file where you specify instructions for GitLab CI/CD.

In this file, you define:

  • The structure and order of jobs that the runner should execute.
  • The decisions the runner should make when specific conditions are encountered.

To create a .gitlab-ci.yml file:

  1. On the left sidebar, select Repository > Files.

  2. Above the file list, select the branch you want to commit to. If you're not sure, leave master or main. Then select the plus icon ({plus}) and New file:

    New file

  3. For the Filename, type .gitlab-ci.yml and in the larger window, paste this sample code:

      stage: build
        - echo "Hello, $GITLAB_USER_LOGIN!"
      stage: test
        - echo "This job tests something"
      stage: test
        - echo "This job tests something, but takes more time than test-job1."
        - echo "After the echo commands complete, it runs the sleep command for 20 seconds"
        - echo "which simulates a test that runs 20 seconds longer than test-job1"
        - sleep 20
      stage: deploy
        - echo "This job deploys something from the $CI_COMMIT_BRANCH branch."
      environment: production

    This example shows four jobs: build-job, test-job1, test-job2, and deploy-prod. The comments listed in the echo commands are displayed in the UI when you view the jobs. The values for the predefined variables $GITLAB_USER_LOGIN and $CI_COMMIT_BRANCH are populated when the jobs run.

  4. Select Commit changes.

The pipeline starts and runs the jobs you defined in the .gitlab-ci.yml file.

View the status of your pipeline and jobs

Now take a look at your pipeline and the jobs within.

  1. Go to CI/CD > Pipelines. A pipeline with three stages should be displayed:

    Three stages

  2. View a visual representation of your pipeline by selecting the pipeline ID:

    Pipeline graph

  3. View details of a job by selecting the job name. For example, deploy-prod:

    Job details

You have successfully created your first CI/CD pipeline in GitLab. Congratulations!

Now you can get started customizing your .gitlab-ci.yml and defining more advanced jobs.

.gitlab-ci.yml tips

Here are some tips to get started working with the .gitlab-ci.yml file.

For the complete .gitlab-ci.yml syntax, see the full .gitlab-ci.yml keyword reference.

  • Use the pipeline editor to edit your .gitlab-ci.yml file.
  • Each job contains a script section and belongs to a stage:
  • You can set additional configuration to customize how your jobs and stages perform:
    • Use the rules keyword to specify when to run or skip jobs. The only and except legacy keywords are still supported, but can't be used with rules in the same job.
    • Keep information across jobs and stages persistent in a pipeline with cache and artifacts. These keywords are ways to store dependencies and job output, even when using ephemeral runners for each job.
    • Use the default keyword to specify additional configurations that are applied to all jobs. This keyword is often used to define before_script and after_script sections that should run on every job.

Related topics

  • Migrate from CircleCI
  • Migrate from Jenkins
  •  Watch First time GitLab & CI/CD. This includes a quick introduction to GitLab, the first steps with CI/CD, building a Go project, running tests, using the CI/CD pipeline editor, detecting secrets and security vulnerabilities and offers more exercises for asynchronous practice.
  •  Watch Intro to GitLab CI. This workshop uses the Web IDE to quickly get going with building source code using CI/CD, and run unit tests.