When receiving a build from GitLab CI, the runner prepares the build environment. It starts by setting a list of predefined variables (Environment Variables) and a list of user-defined variables

The variables can be overwritten. They take precedence over each other in this order:

  1. Trigger variables
  2. Secure variables
  3. YAML-defined job-level variables
  4. YAML-defined global variables
  5. Predefined variables

For example, if you define:

  1. API_TOKEN=SECURE as Secure Variable
  2. API_TOKEN=YAML as YAML-defined variable

The API_TOKEN will take the Secure Variable value: SECURE.

Predefined variables (Environment Variables)

Variable Runner Description
CI 0.4 Mark that build is executed in CI environment
GITLAB_CI all Mark that build is executed in GitLab CI environment
CI_SERVER all Mark that build is executed in CI environment
CI_SERVER_NAME all CI server that is used to coordinate builds
CI_SERVER_VERSION all Not yet defined
CI_SERVER_REVISION all Not yet defined
CI_BUILD_REF all The commit revision for which project is built
CI_BUILD_TAG 0.5 The commit tag name. Present only when building tags.
CI_BUILD_NAME 0.5 The name of the build as defined in .gitlab-ci.yml
CI_BUILD_STAGE 0.5 The name of the stage as defined in .gitlab-ci.yml
CI_BUILD_REF_NAME all The branch or tag name for which project is built
CI_BUILD_ID all The unique id of the current build that GitLab CI uses internally
CI_BUILD_REPO all The URL to clone the Git repository
CI_BUILD_TRIGGERED 0.5 The flag to indicate that build was triggered
CI_BUILD_TOKEN 1.2 Token used for authenticating with the GitLab Container Registry
CI_PROJECT_ID all The unique id of the current project that GitLab CI uses internally
CI_PROJECT_DIR all The full path where the repository is cloned and where the build is ran

Some of the variables are only available when using runner with at least defined version.

Example values:

export CI_BUILD_ID="50"
export CI_BUILD_REF="1ecfd275763eff1d6b4844ea3168962458c9f27a"
export CI_BUILD_REF_NAME="master"
export CI_BUILD_REPO=""
export CI_BUILD_TAG="1.0.0"
export CI_BUILD_NAME="spec:other"
export CI_BUILD_STAGE="test"
export CI_BUILD_TRIGGERED="true"
export CI_BUILD_TOKEN="abcde-1234ABCD5678ef"
export CI_PROJECT_DIR="/builds/gitlab-org/gitlab-ce"
export CI_PROJECT_ID="34"
export CI_SERVER="yes"
export CI_SERVER_NAME="GitLab CI"

YAML-defined variables

*This feature requires GitLab Runner 0.5.0 or higher and GitLab CI 7.14 or higher *

GitLab CI allows you to add to .gitlab-ci.yml variables that are set in build environment. The variables are stored in repository and are meant to store non-sensitive project configuration, ie. RAILS_ENV or DATABASE_URL.

  DATABASE_URL: "postgres://postgres@postgres/my_database"

These variables can be later used in all executed commands and scripts.

The YAML-defined variables are also set to all created service containers, thus allowing to fine tune them.

Variables can be defined at a global level, but also at a job level.

More information about Docker integration can be found in Using Docker Images.

User-defined variables (Secure Variables)

This feature requires GitLab Runner 0.4.0 or higher

GitLab CI allows you to define per-project Secure Variables that are set in the build environment. The secure variables are stored out of the repository (the .gitlab-ci.yml). The variables are securely passed to GitLab Runner and are available in the build environment. It's desired method to use them for storing passwords, secret keys or whatever you want.

The value of the variable can be shown in build log if explicitly asked to do so. If your project is public or internal you can make the builds private.

Secure Variables can added by going to Project > Variables > Add Variable.

They will be available for all subsequent builds.

Use variables

The variables are set as environment variables in build environment and are accessible with normal methods that are used to access such variables. In most cases the bash is used to execute build script. To access variables (predefined and user-defined) in bash environment, prefix the variable name with $:

    - echo $CI_BUILD_ID

You can also list all environment variables with export command, but be aware that this will also expose value of all Secure Variables in build log:

    - export