/ Üllar Seerme

YAML block chomping indicators matter a whole lot

October 27, 2021

Given a Bash command substitution containing pipes within a GitLab CI/CD pipeline (using Runner version 14.4.0-rc1) the order of execution of some of the piped commands seemed unreliable. Consider the following to grab fixed values from a specifically formatted commit message, which is poor to begin with, but demonstrates the point just as well:

variables:
  MESSAGE: |
    git@example.com:group/project
    subscription: sub1
    location: loc1

.shared-scripts:
  set-vars: &set-vars
    - >
      SUBSCRIPTION=$(echo "$MESSAGE" | tail -n 2 | head -n 1 | cut -d " " -f 2);
      LOCATION=$(echo "$MESSAGE" | tail -n 1 | cut -d " " -f 2);

anchored-job:
  before_script:
    - *set-vars
  script:
    - echo "'${SUBSCRIPTION}'"  # does not work
    - echo "'${LOCATION}'"  # does not work

regular-job-tail-first:
  before_script:
    - >
      SUBSCRIPTION=$(echo "$MESSAGE" | tail -n 2 | head -n 1 | cut -d " " -f 2);
      LOCATION=$(echo "$MESSAGE" | tail -n 1 | cut -d " " -f 2);
  script:
    - echo "'${SUBSCRIPTION}'"  # does not work
    - echo "'${LOCATION}'"  # does not work

regular-job-head-first:
  before_script:
    - >
      SUBSCRIPTION=$(echo "$MESSAGE" | head -n 2 | tail -n 1 | cut -d " " -f 2);
      LOCATION=$(echo "$MESSAGE" | tail -n 1 | cut -d " " -f 2);
  script:
    - echo "'${SUBSCRIPTION}'"  # works
    - echo "'${LOCATION}'"  # does not work

regular-job-more-pipes:
  before_script:
    - PROJECT=$(echo "$MESSAGE" | head -n 1 | cut -d ":" -f 2 | rev | cut -d "/" -f 1 | rev)
  script:
    - echo "'${PROJECT}'"  # works

While running this locally the result is deterministic, but within a CI job looking at the debug output it’s apparent that the order in which the pipes are ran is not what is expected when the first command is tail:

+++ echo 'git@example.com:group/project
subscription: sub1
location: loc1
'
+++ head -n 1
+++ tail -n 2
+++ cut -d ' ' -f 2
++ SUBSCRIPTION=loc1

Key piece is that SUBSCRIPTION should not be loc1, but rather sub1, because it should execute tail first and then head, not the other way around as it will end up targeting a totally different row in the given input. The same can be observed for the LOCATION variable:

+++ echo 'git@example.com:group/project
subscription: sub1
location: loc1
'
+++ cut -d ' ' -f 2
+++ tail -n 1
++ LOCATION=

It seems to me that the parser, or whatever is responsible, is acting differently when the first command is tail. This was easily remedied with switching to grep, which made more sense anyway and relying on only one pipe, but it’s left me wary of using multiple piped operations in the future:

.shared-scripts:
  set-vars: &set-vars
    - >
      SUBSCRIPTION=$(grep "subscription" <<< "$MESSAGE" | cut -d " " -f 2);
      LOCATION=$(grep "location" <<< "$MESSAGE" | cut -d " " -f 2);

Oddly enough something like this works just fine, so maybe the root cause lies in using those specific commands (i.e. head and tail):

job1:
  before_script:
    - >
      EMAIL=$(echo "$CI_COMMIT_AUTHOR" | rev | cut -d " " -f 1 | rev);
      export EMAIL=${EMAIL:1:-1};

I’ve written up an issue for GitLab that hopefully will get a pair of more knowledgeable eyes on this matter.


You can read the comment where I explain a bit more, but long story short: it can be crucial to take into account the block chomping indicators when working with multi-line variables as not stripping newlines from the end, while outputting just the same with echo, has the potential to throw off any piped operations that depend on the number of lines starting from the end of the variable.

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