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InfoQ Homepage News GitLab Improves Merge Requests, GitOps Functionality and More

GitLab Improves Merge Requests, GitOps Functionality and More

GitLab has released several minor versions of its DevOps software package to address various friction and improve user experience. Versions 15.3 through 15.8 have emerged on a monthly cadence, with version 15.9. due at the end of February. Some highlights from these releases include GitLab's first machine-learning powered feature improves merge request approvals, with other significant improvements and fixes ranging from GitOps enhancements to new functionality for Dynamic Application Security Testing (DAST).

Many organisations use external status checks, for instance, to check code and artifacts against external compliance and security tools, and it's now possible to block merging until these checks pass.

The System for Cross-domain Identity Management (SCIM), used for automating the exchange of user identity information between identity domains, was previously available only on The 15.8 release brings this functionality to self-managed instances.

On it's now possible to migrate projects directly between instances, or within the same instance, without having to export and import the data manually. This makes the process more efficient, and also ensures that user associations are not changed to the user migrating the project, thus preserving the original authors on comments on migrated projects.

Moving away from a proxy-based DAST approach, which proved extremely difficult to work with, GitLab 15.7 provides a browser-based DAST analyzer that allows in-depth DAST on websites that significantly use JavaScript. A new DAST API Analyzer also improves vulnerability detection significantly and provides new functionality with scans using GraphQL, Postman, and HTTP Archive (HAR) files.

GitLab Cloud Seed allows Google Cloud customers to migrate projects efficiently, with automation to leverage Google Cloud services such as Service Accounts, Cloud Run, and Cloud SQL.

It's now possible to create tasks within issues. Previously, tasks could only be listed inside an issue in a markdown-formatted list, but this new functionality allows tasks to be assigned, labeled, and managed independently.

The GitOps functionality used for performing pull-based deployments is now available for free, and previously only available in the paid tiers of the product. Furthermore, since version 15.7, it's now possible to deploy from outside the default branch, allowing GitOps deployments to ephemeral environments

On reviewing a merge request, it's now possible to quickly perform other actions, such as approving the request directly from inside the comment area, using GitLab's quick actions (such as /approve and /assign_reviewer). This reduces the labor involved in reviewing merge requests.

GitLab allows approval rules to be set for merge requests, but these previously had to be applied across all branches. This meant developers working on less important branches (for example, those created for a feature request) were subject to the same approval rules for protected branches such as the master branch. This is now relaxed, with admins able to apply rules selectively to branches.

GitLab insights now allow querying of performance based on the well-known DORA metrics, allowing leaders to track improvements and understand trends related to the DORA metrics.

Using Machine Learning technology for the first time, GitLab will now recommend "suggested reviewers" for a merge request based on the project's previous contributors. This functionality is currently in beta and being rolled out gradually to customers.

GitLab Workflow provides a method for validating changes to CI/CD workflows directly within VS Code. With workflows becoming more complex, admins can check in more detail that their changes will work appropriately, before pushing changes.

Finally, Medium and Large Linux Runners instance sizes are now available on GitLab's SaaS product. This allows users to choose faster servers to run their CI/CD jobs on, which can reduce the time taken to validate changes.

Alongside the new features listed above, there are many smaller enhancements and fixes. Commenting on the 15.7 release, @laubstein from Sao Paolo in Brazil tweeted:

This release comes with great "little" features that will improve our pipeline experience. Thanks for the gift and thanks for keep @gitlab such a great tool.

GitLab 15.8 is now available for download and is live on Release notes for 15.3, 15.4, 15.5, 15.6, 15.7, and 15.8 are also available. GitLab 15.9 is expected on the 22nd of February.

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