Introduction to pipelines and jobs

Note: Introduced in GitLab 8.8.


A pipeline is a group of jobs that get executed in stages(batches). All of the jobs in a stage are executed in parallel (if there are enough concurrent Runners), and if they all succeed, the pipeline moves on to the next stage. If one of the jobs fails, the next stage is not (usually) executed.

Pipelines example

Types of Pipelines

There are three types of pipelines that often use the single shorthand of "pipeline". People often talk about them as if each one is "the" pipeline, but really, they're just pieces of a single, comprehensive pipeline.

Types of Pipelines
  1. CI Pipeline: Build and test stages defined in .gitlab-ci.yml
  2. Deploy Pipeline: Deploy stage(s) defined in .gitlab-ci.yml The flow of deploying code to servers through various stages: e.g. development to staging to production
  3. Project Pipeline: Cross-project CI dependencies triggered via API, particularly for micro-services, but also for complicated build dependencies: e.g. api -> front-end, ce/ee -> omnibus.

Development Workflows

Pipelines accommodate several development workflows:

  1. Branch Flow (e.g. different branch for dev, qa, staging, production)
  2. Trunk-based Flow (e.g. feature branches and single master branch, possibly with tags for releases)
  3. Fork-based Flow (e.g. merge requests come from forks)

Example continuous delivery flow:

CD Flow


Jobs can be defined in the .gitlab-ci.yml file. Not to be confused with a build job or build stage.

Defining pipelines

Pipelines are defined in .gitlab-ci.yml by specifying jobs that run in stages.

See full documentation.

Seeing pipeline status

You can find the current and historical pipeline runs under Pipelines for your project.

Seeing job status

Clicking on a pipeline will show the jobs that were run for that pipeline. Clicking on an individual job will show you its job trace, and allow you to cancel the job, retry it, or erase the job trace.

How the pipeline duration is calculated

Total running time for a given pipeline would exclude retries and pending (queue) time. We could reduce this problem down to finding the union of periods.

So each job would be represented as a Period, which consists of Period#first as when the job started and Period#last as when the job was finished. A simple example here would be:

  • A (1, 3)
  • B (2, 4)
  • C (6, 7)

Here A begins from 1, and ends to 3. B begins from 2, and ends to 4. C begins from 6, and ends to 7. Visually it could be viewed as:

0  1  2  3  4  5  6  7

The union of A, B, and C would be (1, 4) and (6, 7), therefore the total running time should be:

(4 - 1) + (7 - 6) => 4


Pipeline status and test coverage report badges are available. You can find their respective link in the Pipelines settings page.