5 Revolutionary Ways to Automate Workflows Using CloudBees Composer UI

Written by: Drew Piland
6 min read

When speaking with developers, a few capabilities typically make the user interface (UI) wish list. I'm excited to talk about how CloudBees Composer incorporates these

As a developer, I can tell you what capabilities typically make the user interface (UI) wish list—and the ones I’m about to explain are pretty cool.

CloudBees Composer is a graphical user interface (UI) that introduces revolutionary approaches to maximize developer productivity with workflow automation through customizable actions, templates, and tool choice flexibility.

When writing code, developers must achieve multiple tasks to create an application that customers can use. For each piece of software, which we call a “component,” a specific workflow of jobs— a “workflow”—must be set up.

For each software component, developers have to perform multiple jobs:

  • Compile the code and run unit tests

  • Package the binaries

  • Deploy to the test environments

  • Run End-to-end or Integration tests

  • Deploy to Prod env

To summarize: 

  • A workflow is a set of jobs that can run in parallel or in sequence, with dependencies between them. 

  • A job is a detailed set of activities, called steps. 

  • Each step performs an atomic action that could integrate with external tools.

Let's highlight five ways CloudBees Composer UI helps expedite workflow automation.

  • Leverage GitHub Actions-like DSL to define the workflow

  • Visually Build Automation Workflows—or Write Code Manually

  • Embed 3rd party CI/CD pipelines in the workflow

  • Include the different types of security scanner tools in the workflows

  • View Workflow Run Progress in Real Time

1.  Leverage GitHub Actions-like DSL

GitHub Actions (GHA) is a widely used workflow automation tool. Developers create this workflow by writing code in GitHub Actions Domain-Specific Language (DSL) format. CloudBees platform uses its own container-based DSL, CloudBees Actions, which should be familiar to anyone with GHA experience. 

So when developers create an automation workflow in CloudBees platform, they leverage their existing knowledge of this type of DSL that they already love to be more productive. 

No restrictions. Greater flexibility. This presents a considerable advantage for developers familiar with the GitHub Action DSL format. 

2.  Visually Build Automation Workflows—or Write Code Manually

Composer UI allows developers to choose between writing the code themselves or using the drag-and-drop visual editor. The UI lets you define your workflow, outlining what to do at each step.

Decide whether to execute jobs sequentially or in parallel, pick the actions you need from our rich catalog, be guided to configure them, or leverage pre-configured ones provided by your platform engineering team. Then, let Composer UI convert the workflow into a YAML file, giving developers the choice between editing the YAML file itself or editing the UI. Each developer determines the right path based on what’s best for their specific workflow, and Composer UI helps create that automation. 

3.  Choose and Integrate External Tools

To meet developers where they are, Composer UI also offers external integrations. CloudBees has published a set of actions for integrating with popular tools. To perform the workflow automation, developers simply use the action to interact with those external tools. 

CloudBees is well known for orchestrating harmoniously with various tools. Composer UI continues that trend by integrating with such tools as:

  • Jenkins 

  • GitHub

  • Jira

  • Argo CD

  • Snyk

Composer UI keeps workflows manageable by letting developers embrace tool choice within a more comprehensive platform. Access our complete CloudBees actions catalog.

4.  Use Security-Specific Tools in the Workflow 

Using security tool actions is one of the many ways to check whether a piece of software could introduce security problems. Among developers, scanning the security code to the package is standard practice.

In this workflow, a developer would typically send the code down the pipeline. The recipient would use a tool to scan the code, compile the code, build a package, and then scan the package using another tool. After deploying that code and package to the test environment, they would implement yet another tool to scan the environment.

Security tools are a billion-dollar market, and hundreds exist. A recent survey emphasized this, stating that, on average, organizations use more than 30 security tools, with 76% of respondents stating this reliance on multiple security tools creates blind spots that affect their ability to prioritize risk and prevent threats. By offering developers integration with these tools, CloudBees Composer UI reduces the number of manual steps developers would typically take without this automated integration. 

5.  View Workflow Run Progress in Real Time

Writing the code is one thing, but developers should not be left in the dark when their code is being built, tested, and deployed. That’s why Composer UI visually represents how a workflow is progressing.

With CloudBees platform, developers who’ve committed code gain a live view of the progress of the workflow, including where it is currently and how the various jobs and steps have succeeded or failed so far. For example, when a particular step deploys to a test environment, they can see its progress within the workflow and determine whether to check for errors. 

CloudBees platform’s run view means developers don’t need to wait until someone tells them their code failed. They can jump in, see the problem, and immediately fix it. 

Why Use CloudBees Composer UI?

When using CloudBees platform, developers have two options:

  • Write the workflow using our GitHub Actions-like DSL

  • Create the automation workflow in Composer UI

Developers can seamlessly switch between the two modes at any point to pick the most efficient way according to their immediate needs. 

CloudBees platform’s external tool integration capability allows developers to continue using tools they’re already familiar with seamlessly, so they waste no time getting up to speed. This familiarity translates to faster software development.

Developers must compile and test code properly to ensure it’s safe for customers. With CloudBees workflows, the developer can rest assured that when the code reaches the destination environment, it won't cause any issues.

And thanks to visibility across the software development lifecycle (SDLC), developers can access their code status and progress in real time. No time is lost on fixes, as developers can see and address any issues themselves. 

Try the CloudBees platform for free where you can access automation from Composer UI and boost productivity with greater flexibility and pipeline control.

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