Github Actions - Push to AWS container repository (ECR)

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We all know the benefits of pushing code automatically to production, here is a small guide on how to do it with Github actions and AWS.

The high level steps are:

  1. Create a docker image repository in AWS ( ECR )
  2. Create a single user in AWS that only has permissions to add images to the ECR
  3. Configure login of the pipeline into AWS
  4. Configure the pipeline to do the push

Step 1 - Create a docker image repository πŸ”—

For use of all this code, we are going to use AWS-CDK a library to create infrastructure from our code.

to install cdk we need to have npm:

  • npm install -g cdk
  • cd my-project
  • cdk init --language python
  • source .venv/bin/activate

with that done, you should have now a file in our file system, here is where we define our infrastructure.

we should add :

repository = ecr.Repository(self, "name-of-the-registry")

then in the terminal we execute cdk deploy, and voila! we have a new ecr repository in our AWS account.

Step 2 - Create user to push to registry πŸ”—

we should create a new aws user…



and give it permission to read and write to the repository…


execute cdk deploy, and we should have the correct user with the correct permissions

Step 3 - Configure github actions πŸ”—

First, we need to make be able to use this user from the API, for that we need to:

  1. Login into the aws console.
  2. Go to the IAM page (where the users are defined).
  3. Go to the details of the user we created
  4. Select the tab Security Credentials
  5. Create and access key, write it down somewhere the access key and the access_secret

now in our github project, we must setup 2 secrets.

  1. AWS_ACCESS_KEY_ID with the access key
  2. AWS_SECRET_ACCESS_KEYwith the secret

And now we can add the github workflow in our codebase.

create a file in .github/workflow/publish-docker.yml with the following content:

name: Publish docker image
      branches: main
    runs-on: ubuntu-latest
    - uses: actions/checkout@v2
    - name: Configure AWS credentials
      uses: aws-actions/configure-aws-credentials@v1
        aws-access-key-id: ${{ secrets.AWS_ACCESS_KEY_ID }}
        aws-secret-access-key: ${{ secrets.AWS_SECRET_ACCESS_KEY }}
        aws-region: eu-west-1
    - name: Login to Amazon ECR
      id: login-ecr
      uses: aws-actions/amazon-ecr-login@v1

be aware of changing the aws-region and the main branch if not suits your project.

after you do a push, you should see in the Actions tab of your github project, that the pipeline is executed and is green.

Step4 - Configure the pipeline to push! πŸ”—

Once you are logged in AWS inside the pipeline, most of the heavy lifting is already done. Now we just want to create a new step in the pipeline that builds the image and pushes to the ECR.

    - name: Build, tag, and push the image to Amazon ECR
      id: build-image
        ECR_REGISTRY: ${{ steps.login-ecr.outputs.registry }}
        ECR_REPOSITORY: ${{ secrets.REPO_NAME }}
        IMAGE_TAG: latest
      run: |
        # Build a docker container and push it to ECR
        docker build -t $ECR_REGISTRY/$ECR_REPOSITORY:$IMAGE_TAG .
        echo "Pushing image to ECR..."
        echo "::set-output name=image::$ECR_REGISTRY/$ECR_REPOSITORY:$IMAGE_TAG"        

Before you push, make sure to create a new secret named REPO_NAME with the name (not the URI) of the ECR repository (is one of the properties you see in the AWS console)

Conclusions πŸ”—

Having best practices is a little bit more hard, than doing manually. But

  1. You don’t depend on specific computer setup to do it
  2. It’s a piece of cognitive load that we don’t have to think about anymore, you push your code and gets deployed.

And now with Github Actions, it’s free and managed for us.