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Simple uptime monitoring example using GitHub Actions
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Sitecheck Project

This is a simple example project showing how you can use GitHub Actions to regularly check that your websites/projects are up and running as expected. I wrote this when I was moving a bunch of my side project domains around and I wanted to make sure I didn't break anything. (And to keep an eye on upcoming SSL certificate expirations.) This won't be as extensive as a real "uptime" monitoring service, but for side projects this free option is pretty powerful.

How it Works

GitHub Action

The action is defined in the file ./github/workflows/pythonapp.yml. I started with the "Python app" workflow template, so if you've seen those before this structure will look very similar.

Some comments on the most relevant parts:

    - cron: '0 0 * * *'

This sets up the action to run on any push and also on the cron schedule. The hours are UTC-based and in this example set to run once per day.

- name: Set up Python 3.7
    uses: actions/setup-python@v1
    python-version: 3.7

Here we are just using Python 3.7 because we just need one (modern) environment, but if this was really testing your Python package you could specify a list of versions here (similar to what I do in my s3data project).

- name: Install dependencies
    run: |
    python -m pip install --upgrade pip
    pip install -r requirements.txt

Our specified dependencies are installed. If you add any packages needed make sure to include in requirements.txt.

- name: Test with
    id: sites
      AWS_ACCESS_KEY_ID: ${{ secrets.AWS_ACCESS_KEY_ID }}
      S3DATA_BUCKET: ${{ secrets.S3DATA_BUCKET }}
      SLACK_WEBHOOK: ${{ secrets.SLACK_WEBHOOK }}
    run: python --ci -v

Finally the step that actually runs the script. All the mappings under env will environment variables for the script from the contents of the repository secrets. The will set the return code to 0 for passing, otherwise it will be the number of errors found. It's probably most useful to run with the -v option so you can see the actual errors found (otherwise it's silent).

These are the command-line options for the script:

$ python -h
usage: [-h] [--ci] [--verbose] [--delete]

Check personal websites online and valid SSL certs

optional arguments:
  -h, --help     show this help message and exit
  --ci           CI mode including notifications
  --verbose, -v  Verbose mode
  --delete, -d   Delete existing stored data

Twilio Integration

GitHub Actions will send you an email when you have a failing run. In the case of a site being down I wanted to find out more quickly, so I set up Twilio to text my own phone with any errors.

To use this with Twilio, you'll need to 'buy' a number (or use one you already have). You'll need your Account SID and Auth Token as well.

Slack Integration

In a similar vein I added Slack integration to notify me of any issues. This is pretty easy to set up - you just need to create a webhook for the Slack workspace and channel you want to use, then the script does a simple post with the messages.

AWS S3 Integration

I wanted to improve the notifications from this script to not notify me every single time it runs. Instead I just want to hear about any failing runs, and the first passing run after it had been failing. To support these I need to persist some state outside of GitHub Actions. I created a separate package s3data which can read/write a simple file in S3. I'm storing in JSON just a few fields from the last run: time, error count, and error messages.

Using it for Your Projects

To use this project as a starting point for your own, these are the steps:

Fork this repo to your own account.

Locally you'll want a Python 3.7/3.8 environment (probably easiest with a virtual environment). Install dependencies with:

pip install --upgrade pip
pip install -r requirements.txt

Now you can edit to put your own sites and/or checks you want to make.

If you're using Twilio, set up these environment variables (secrets) in GitHub: TWILIO_AUTH_TOKEN, TWILIO_ACCOUNT_SID, TWILIO_FROM_NUMBER and TWILIO_TO_NUMBER. If you don't want to use Twilio, remove the code for send_sms_messages.

If you're using Slack, set up the SLACK_WEBHOOK secret in GitHub. If you don't want to use Slack, remove the code for send_slack_messages.

If you're using AWS (for S3 storage between runs), set up these secrets in GitHub: AWS_ACCESS_KEY_ID, AWS_SECRET_ACCESS_KEY, and S3DATA_BUCKET. If you don't want to use AWS S3, remove all the code related to s3data.

In fact if you don't need any of the above (or want to set it up later), adjust pythonapp.yml to run the code without the --ci option (i.e. just: python -v). Then you can add the other services later if you want.

Now try running the script locally to make sure everything works:

python -v

Once it looks good, commit back to GitHub and check the Actions tab to see how it goes. It will run each time you commit, so you can test it by committing a known bad check, then reverting back to a good state.

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