Deploying Hugo sites with GitHub Actions

For the longest time, I have used the caddy-git middleware for caddyserver to constantly deploy my Hugo site from GitHub.

But this approach had a few problems, notably force pushing (I know, shush) caused the repository to break because the plugin didn't support those. While not frequent, it was annoying enough to seek alternatives.

Enter GitHub Actions.

GitHub's in-built CI/CD solution is quite powerful and easily extensible. I decided to give it a shot and use it for automated deployments.

Now, my use case isn't the most straightforward. I maintain two sites out of the same source repository, one production site with all my published posts, and another with all my drafts enabled so I can check my WIP posts live to find any formatting mistakes I may have overlooked when writing through Forestry or a text editor. I am also in the habit of creating and fixing my own problems so I prefer self-hosted solutions as and when possible.

Step 1 - Deployment

The first part of this endeavour involved finding a new way to move static assets to the server. I thought about emulating how caddy-git works and using ssh to do a pull-and-build on my server itself. Then I found this action that allows me to install hugo in the container for the build. That's when I decided to do the building in the Actions pipeline and push built assets using rsync.

Step 2 - Execution

To handle my two-sites-from-one-repo usecase, I setup a build staging -> publish staging -> build prod -> publish prod pipeline.

- name: Build staging
  run: hugo --minify -DEFb=https://staging.msfjarvis.website

- name: Deploy to staging
  run: source $GITHUB_WORKSPACE/ci/deploy.sh
  env:
    ACTIONS_DEPLOY_KEY: ${{ secrets.ACTIONS_DEPLOY_KEY }}
    SSH_USERNAME: ${{ secrets.SSH_USERNAME }}
    SERVER_ADDRESS: ${{ secrets.SERVER_ADDRESS }}
    SERVER_DESTINATION: ${{ secrets.SERVER_DESTINATION_STAGING }}
    SSH_PORT: ${{ secrets.SSH_PORT }}

- name: Build prod
  run: hugo --minify

- name: Deploy to prod
  run: source $GITHUB_WORKSPACE/ci/deploy.sh
  env:
    ACTIONS_DEPLOY_KEY: ${{ secrets.ACTIONS_DEPLOY_KEY }}
    SSH_USERNAME: ${{ secrets.SSH_USERNAME }}
    SERVER_ADDRESS: ${{ secrets.SERVER_ADDRESS }}
    SERVER_DESTINATION: ${{ secrets.SERVER_DESTINATION_PROD }}
    SSH_PORT: ${{ secrets.SSH_PORT }}

You can find the ci/deploy.sh script here. It's a very basic script that sets up the SSH authentication and rsync's the built site over.