Setting Up GitLab Webhooks: 4 Easy Steps

on Data Automation, Data Driven Strategies, Data Integration, ETL, ETL Tutorials, GitLab, Project Management Tool, Webhook • October 26th, 2021 • Write for Hevo

With organizations using multiple Cloud-based software services for running their businesses, transferring data between such independently existing services is a common requirement. In the traditional on-premise work, most of these integrations would have been handled using a shared database or internal API calls. For the modern organization that runs its businesses using SAAS services, Webhooks provide an easy way to accomplish this data sharing by notifying the subscribing application in a real-time manner whenever a relevant change happens in the source application.

For organizations using GitLab for its code repository management. A typical requirement that comes from the development teams is to have a notification to the group messaging application, say Slack or Hangouts. GitLab Webhooks are an excellent solution to handle such real-time data integrations and will notify you whenever a comment is left on an issue tracked using Gitlab.

This article will introduce you to GitLab and Webhooks. You will learn detailed steps to set up GitLab Webhooks. So, read along and learn how GitLab Webhooks can help you.

Table of Contents

Prerequisites

To successfully set up GitLab Webhooks, you need to meet the following requirements:

  • Access to GitLab instance owner rights in a project.
  • Basic understanding of Software Development Life Cycle.

Introduction to GitLab

GitLab Webhook - GitLab Logo
Image Source

GitLab is a Cloud-based Software Development Life Cycle tool. It comes with its own Git repository manager. GitLab also has an issue tracking system built into it that helps in basic project management activities. It is available as a completely managed Cloud-based service and as an On-Premise deployment.

GitLab is one of the few Cloud repositories to offer free private repositories. GitLab comes with provisions for integrating CI/CD Pipeline frameworks like Jenkins. It also comes with support for code quality inspection platforms like SonarCube. All these features and a subscription-based payment method make it a favorite in the enterprise space for software development. 

To explore GitLab, visit the Official HomePage.

Introduction to Webhooks

GitLab Webhook - Webhook Logo
Image Source

Before going into the details of how to set up GitLab Webhooks, it is advisable to understand the basics of how Webhooks work.

A Webhook is just a POST web service that can be called with a JSON data packet and authentication information. In that sense, implementing a Webhook at the subscribing application end is as easy as implementing a simple web service. At the notifying application end, this is slightly more complex. 

The notifying application must have an option to register Webhook URLs from multiple subscribing clients. It should also be possible to specify which all data changes are to be notified to the subscribing application. The notifying application then triggers the Webhook call every time a relevant change happens. 

Since Webhooks are publicly available for the notifying application to access, security is extremely important. It is even possible for a malicious entity to flood the subscribing applications with random calls and create a DDOS problem. At the very least, Webhooks must be authenticated using a username-password combination or a token. A request signing-based authentication is also generally preferred to secure a Webhook.

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Steps to Set Up GitLab Webhooks

GitLab Webhooks allows using Webhook notifications for all of the major lifecycle events in the software development process. It can trigger Webhooks for Code Push Events, Issue Changes, Comments, Merge Requests, Pipeline Events, Wiki Page Events, Deployment Events, Release Events, etc.

Setting up GitLab Webhooks can be completely managed from the user interface provided you have ownership rights to the project. 

Step 1: Head to the left side Admin tab of your project and expand the Settings link. Click on Webhooks as shown below.

GitLab Webhook - Open Webhook
Image Source: Self

Step 2: You will be greeted with a page to configure your GitLab Webhooks as shown below. The most important detail here is the URL of the GitLab Webhook that has to be triggered when specific events happen. 

GitLab Webhook - Webhook URL
Image Source: Self

There is a section for adding a Secret Token. Whatever is added in this section, Gitlab will add it to all of the Webhook triggers. Inside the Webhook, the Developer must include logic to verify the Secret Token. This is done to ensure no malicious entity is able to push data to the GitLab Webhook.

Step 3: Enter the URL and Secret Token as mentioned in the above step. Tick the events that you want to be notified about. In this case, let’s move forward with ‘Push’ events. This means everything a Developer pushes to the repository the webhook will be triggered. Ensure that you have ticked the SSL verification for security as shown below.

GitLab Webhook - Add Webhook
Image Source: Self

Step 4: Towards the end of the page, you can see a test section that can be used to trigger events from Gitlab. Click on the drop-down to expand the event list and choose the one you ticked in the first part. This will trigger the GitLab Webhook calls and help you test the Webhooks.

GitLab Webhook - Test Webhook
Image Source: Self

That’s it! Setting up GitLab Webhooks is that easy. That said, the hard part is to implement the actual Webhook that will respond to the call from GitLab. Implementing a secure GitLab Webhook with the required validation and scaling ability requires good development skills.

Conclusion

This article gave an overview of GitLab and Webhooks. You understood the steps to create a GitLab Webhook in detail. So, Webhooks provide a way to notify the subscribing application in a real-time manner whenever a relevant change happens in the source application.

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Share your experience of setting up GitLab Webhook in the comments section below!

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