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5.0.12 • Public • Published

monofo Build status

A Buildkite dynamic pipeline generator for monorepos. monofo lets you split your .buildkite/pipeline.yml into multiple components, each of which will only be run if it needs to be (based on what's changed since the last build).

Monofo keeps your pipeline running the same way it always has (e.g. you don't have to split your pipeline and use triggers), while potentially saving heaps of time by only building what you need.

Basic usage

Instead of calling buildkite-agent pipeline upload in the first step of a pipeline, execute monofo pipeline which will output the dynamic pipeline on stdout: npx monofo pipeline | buildkite-agent pipeline upload

To make this easier, Monofo supports configuration as a Buildkite plugin, so an example to generate your pipeline might be:

  - name: ":pipeline: Generate pipeline"
    command: echo "Monorepo pipeline uploaded"
      - seek-oss/aws-sm#v2.2.1: # for example, but your secret management might be e.g. via S3 bucket or "env" file instead
            BUILDKITE_API_ACCESS_TOKEN: "global/buildkite-api-access-token"
      - vital-software/monofo#v5.0.12:
          generate: pipeline

Note that Monofo requires an environment variable to be configured, allowing it to access the Buildkite API. This is the BUILDKITE_API_ACCESS_TOKEN environment variable. See Configuration for details.

Splitting pipelines using multiple pipeline.yml files

Split your .buildkite/pipeline.yml into whatever components you'd like and give them with a short name, like: pipeline.<component>.yml. Each of these pipeline files can contain their own set of steps and environment variables.

Next, add a monorepo configuration section to the top of each of these component pipelines. Declare any input (produces) and output (expects) artifacts that your pipeline either builds or needs. An example configuration is:

  expects:  node-modules.tar.gz
  produces: app.tar.gz
    - serverless.yml
    - app/**.ts

The matches configuration defines a set of (minimatch) glob-style paths to match. If there are any differences on your build that match (when compared to a carefully selected base commit), the component build is fully included in the resulting output pipeline.

However, if there are no matches for a component, its steps will be replaced by "dummy steps" that will download the artifacts that would have been produced had the component run (these artifacts are downloaded from the base commit's build).

For convenience, if you change, that change will automatically be considered matching for the foo pipeline, without having to add that pipeline file to the matches array yourself.


Get artifacts for skipped components with expects/produces

A pipeline configuration can define the artifacts that the component build expects in order to run, and those that the build produces if successful. For example:

  expects:  blah.cfg
  produces: output/

These are used:

  • to put the component pipelines into a dependency order
  • to know what artifacts should be pulled from a previous build when needed (i.e. when a component pipeline can be skipped)

Deflate/inflate artifacts to convenient archive formats

See artifacts for more information

You can use the plugin to upload and download artifacts to compressed tarballs using good compression algorithms such as lz4, or even content-addressing-based caching systems such as desync (a casync implementation)

The following breaks your node_modules/ artifact up into chunks, and caches the chunks locally and on S3:

  MONOFO_DESYNC_CACHE: "/tmp/monofo/desync-store"

  - command: yarn install
      - vital-software/monofo#v5.0.12:
              - "node_modules/"

The resulting node-modules.catar.caibx only contains pointers to the full content chunks, and as a result, is only 200KiB for a 500MB node_modules/ artifact. This means it can upload/download in seconds.

Content-based build skipping (pure)

See content-based build skipping for more information

You can mark a pipeline as pure by setting the monorepo.pure flag to true - this indicates that it doesn't have side-effects other than producing its artifacts, and the only inputs it relies on are listed in its matches.

Doing so enables an extra layer of caching, based on the contents of the input files. For example:

  pure: true
    - package.json
    - yarn.lock

In any future build, if package.json and yarn.lock have the same content, this pipeline will be skipped.

Branch inclusion/exclusion filters

If you require more specificity for what branches do or do not run your pipelines, there is a branch filter that matches the Buildkite step-level branch filtering rules.

  expects:  blah.cfg
  produces: output/
  branches: 'main'

Controlling what is included

These rules are applied in the order listed here.


If you set the environment variable PIPELINE_RUN_ALL=1, all parts of the pipeline will be output; this is a good way to "force a full build", or disable monofo temporarily.


If you set PIPELINE_RUN_ONLY=component-name, that component will be included, and others excluded, regardless of matches. Pipeline-level depends_on will still be respected.


If you set PIPELINE_RUN_<COMPONENT_NAME>=1, that component will be included, even if it wouldn't ordinarily. And if you set PIPELINE_NO_RUN_<COMPONENT_NAME> that component will never be included, even if it does have matches.


The main required piece of configuration is the BUILDKITE_API_ACCESS_TOKEN

Buildkite API access token

When calculating the commit to diff against, monofo uses Buildkite API to look up the last successful build of the current branch. To do so, monofo needs a Buildkite API access token set as the environment variable BUILDKITE_API_ACCESS_TOKEN. You'd probably set this in your Buildkite build secrets.

The token only needs the read_builds scope. We need an API token, not an agent token.

DynamoDB setup

DynamoDB setup is only required if you're intending to use pure mode


  • yarn commit - Start a commit with formatting
  • yarn test - Runs the tests
  • yarn build - Compiles Typescript

Command Topics


npm i monofo

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