Date published: 21-Aug-2020
2 min read / 651 words

GitHub Actions

Bring your commits to life with unique Avatars for each of them! Source Repository:

"Why should users have all the fun?"

The concept of identicons has been around for long and many websites use it to generate a default avatar for users. Since all git commits already have unique hashes, why not generate identicons for them? I configured a small (but interesting) workflow to automatically generate unique avatars for your commits. I call these avatars Commiticons, identicons but for commits! 😬🎉

A submission for the DEV: GitHub Actions For Open Source! hackathon


Commiticons Demo

Workflow File

The workflow file for Commiticons can be found at .github/workflows/commiticons.yml.

Core Functionality

Commiticons are a concept, they are unique avatars for a specific commit. How the creation process is implemented is up to the developer to decide! Here is a basic way of implementing them:

  1. Go to a GitHub Repo of your choice, where you have the required permissions, and create a new workflow from the Actions Tab. Select the set up a workflow yourself option.

  2. Copy-paste the following template to the new file that gets created:

    Edit the name: (name of the workflow) and branches: (branch for which commiticons are created) fields as per your repository requirements.

    name: CI
    branches: [ main ]
    runs-on: ubuntu-latest
    - name: Add Commiticon as Commit Comment
    run: |
    curl \
    -X POST \
    -H "Accept: application/vnd.github.v3+json" \
    -H 'authorization: Bearer ${{ secrets.GITHUB_TOKEN }}' \
    $GITHUB_API_URL/repos/$GITHUB_REPOSITORY/commits/$GITHUB_SHA/comments \
    -d "{\"body\":\"![Commiticon]($GITHUB_SHA.svg?h=250)\"}"
  3. Once all the changes are done, commit the actions to the repo. You are done! 🎉

Switch to the Actions tab to see the workflow in action. Once the workflow is complete, go to the latest commit of your repo in order to see the Commiticon as a comment!

How does .github/workflows/commiticons.yml work?

  1. First, I check-out my repo with actions/checkout since I want to save the Commiticons to my repo.

    - name: Checkout
    uses: actions/checkout@v2
  2. Next, I want my Commiticons to be accompanied by a joke to make them even more fun. So, I use the infamous icanhazdadjoke API to grab one for me via cURL. I also must perform a few clean-up steps on them to make it simple for me to push them to the GitHub as a commit comment later. They are:

    1. I clean up any new lines, \n or \r\n, in the joke to prevent problems when I later push it to GitHub with cURL. The sed command replaces \n with the <br> tag. Next, the tr command deletes \r which is present in case of Windows Line Endings. Read more about \r, \n and the problem of CRLF.
    - name: Get a dad-joke
    run: |
    echo "::set-env name=TEMP::$(curl -H "Accept: text/plain" | sed -r ':a;N;$!ba;s/\n/<br>/g' | tr -d '\r')"
    1. Next, I replace all " in the text with ', via tr, in order to avoid clashes with the " with the commands in the cURL command. The $TEMP is the env variable that saves output of previous command.
    - name: Escape double-quotes
    run: |
    echo "::set-env name=DAD_JOKE::$(echo "$TEMP" | tr \" \')"

    These commands are enclosed within echo and set-env to save them as Environment variables for future steps.

  3. Now, I use the GitHub REST API v3 to push them as a commit comment. Here are some more details about how to Create a commit comment. The request is also authenticated by using GITHUB_TOKEN.

    - name: Create commit comment
    run: |
    curl \
    -X POST \
    -H "Accept: application/vnd.github.v3+json" \
    -H 'authorization: Bearer ${{ secrets.GITHUB_TOKEN }}' \
    $GITHUB_API_URL/repos/$GITHUB_REPOSITORY/commits/$GITHUB_SHA/comments \
    -d "{\"body\":\"| ![Commiticon]($GITHUB_SHA.svg?h=250) | $DAD_JOKE |\n|:-:|:-:|\"}"

    The process of generating the Commiticons is handled by Dicebear Avatars, a hidden gem that I was glad I came across! They are the ❤ and soul of Commiticons.

  4. Finally, I save the svg image to my repo which is already present here courtesy of actions/checkout in first step!

    I also need to push it to my repo via git. You might be going "Wait what? Isn't this already GitHub?". It's a Gotcha that had me surprised when I was new to Actions too! In simple terms, actions are their own computers which run automatically by following a script which we provide them (our workflow files).

    - name: Write Commiticon
    run: |
    curl$(echo $GITHUB_SHA).svg?h=250 --output .commiticons/$(echo $GITHUB_SHA).svg
    - name: Push Changes
    run: |
    git config Amorpheuz
    git config
    git add .commiticons/
    git commit -m "Generated Commiticon for: $GITHUB_SHA"
    git push


Here are all the projects that make this workflow possible, A huge shout out to all of them:

If you are confused about something, have some ideas, or just want to chat; reach out to me via my Twitter @Amorpheuz or open an Issue!