Server to run benchmarks for Github repos
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Github Benchmarks

This project enables you to easily setup benchmarks for any Github repo. Basically, TravisCI but for benchmarks.


gh-benchmarks was built to make benchmarks a more natural part of the development process. Unlike tests, benchmarks can take minutes to run, and generally are only run on major releases or just not used at all. This makes it more difficult to determine where speed gains or losses are happening. Once setup and configured, gh-benchmarks should be something you can let run and forget about, much like TravisCI.

gh-benchmarks is meant to be language agnostic- if you set everything up correctly, this should be able to do benchmarks for any piece of software.

Each instance of gh-benchmarks that is running (only recommend 1 per sever), has a collection of jobs to run. These jobs describe different benchmarks that should be run for your projects. Each Job is made up of a collection of tasks, these tasks are shell commands that should run your benchmarks (IE. node benchmarks.js or make benchmarks).

Each task should output JSON data representing the information collected during that benchmark run. It does not need to be in any specific format, unless you are using one of the pre-made templates, in which case it should conform to those standards.

Each job also has charts associated with it. These can be bar or line charts. (by default- you are welcome to extend the functionality and create new charts! See below for more information) They will be uploaded into a specified branch of your Github repository along with the data. (By default, this all goes in your gh-pages branch)

Table of Contents


  1. After you push to your repository, a Github webhook is triggered.
  2. gh-benchmark examines the request and sees if it matches any jobs in your jobs configuration
  3. If it does, then it starts checking Github every 30 seconds to see if the status on the HEAD commit is "success" or "failure" (Generally, this is something Travis CI will upload once your project finishes all of its tests)
  4. If the status is "success," then the system will queue up the benchmarks to be run. Note: Only a single benchmark runs at a time to make sure consistent results are collected
  5. To run the benchmarks, the system clones a fresh copy of the repository, runs any "before" commands, and then executes all tasks sequentially.
  6. After all of the tasks have completed, the system then runs an after command if one exists
  7. Then, the system generates the charts specified in the config file.
  8. Finally, these charts are then committed and pushed to Github (by default, in the gh-pages branch)

Note: For pull requests, the workflow is roughly the same except the benchmark results will not be compiled into a graph and uploaded, but instead they will be posted as a comment on the pull request. This is why it is recommended that you have your benchmarks output human-readable text when the PULL_REQUEST environment variable is set.


Unlike Travis though, you need to host this yourself. It should run on any linux machine if you follow the instructions below.

If you're on Ubuntu (or something with apt-get):

  1. run ./

If you're not on Ubuntu:

You need to have the following things installed on your system:

  1. Node.js (ver. > 10.0) (It should come with it, but make sure you get npm as well)
  2. MongoDB
  3. Postfix
  4. Git
  5. After all of these dependencies have been installed, run npm install -d from the root directory of the project

And that's it! All of the necessary dependencies should be installed. Now, you just need to setup the config, webhook, and make sure Git is configured!

Git Configuration

In order for gh-benchmarks to function properly, you need to make sure the user that gh-benchmarks is running as has commit access on your repository. I will go over how to do this for Github.

First, make sure you have keys generated for the user that will run the program.

Next, under the repo settings page, go to "Deploy Keys". This is where you will add the public key (found in $HOME/.ssh/ of the user who will run the app)

Finally, in order to accept the Github server signature and make sure everything is configured correctly, attempt to clone the repo using the SSH url.

Postfix Installation Notes

This is probably the most annoying part of this whole ordeal. Couple things to note:

  1. Make sure your postfix is working before trying to debug gh-benchmarks
  2. Trying to send to gmail? Look at this
  3. Look at the logs, they're helpful. /var/log/mail.log if you're on Ubuntu

Running gh-benchmarks

"Great, so how do I run this without leaving a terminal open all the time?" you might ask. Fear not! There are a couple options. You essentially just need to keep node app.js running.

Easiest: Forever - This isn't necessarily the most robust way of doing things, but it is pretty simple. I've even included a script which will take care of all the forever stuff for you. This is the recommended way of running gh-benchmarks.

Probably Better: upstart & monit

"I like new and shiny things": docker

I have included a Dockerfile for gh-benchmarks that basically works. You do need to do a couple things to get it working for you though.

First, you will need to find the IP that your docker0 interface is using. You can do this by running ifconfig and looking for the docker0 entry. Copy this IP. You will need to replace the IP for localhost found in docker/hosts.

You can then use make to build the docker image. make run will run the docker image.

Additionally, this image does not have MongoDB on it. That will still need to be on the host system. You will need to have appropriately configured SSH keys on the host server as well. Check the section above on "Git Configuration" for more details.

This Dockerfile is experimental and not officially supported, use at your own discretion.


In order to setup a webhook for your repository, do the following from your repository's home page

  1. "Settings"
  2. "Service Hooks"
  3. "WebHook URLs"
  4. Add as a URL. The default port is 8080, but check server.js to see what this value is for you.
  5. (Optional) It is recommended that you make the port only available to the IPs listed below the "Update settings" button

Note: If you have pull request support enabled, the system will automatically create another webhook to support this. In order to facilitate this webhook creation, Github credentials and the local_url setting are needed.


All of the configuration for gh-benchmarks lives in the config/ directory in two JSON files and on javascript file.

  • server.js - what port the server should run on (defaults to 8080) and the uri for your mongoDB instance
  • email.json - This contains the information about who to email once a benchmark has been run
  • jobs.json - This contains the information about the different benchmarks you want run


  • port - The port for the server to run on. Defaults to 8080
  • mongoDBuri - The uri of the mongoDB instance that the system should connect to. Defaults to localhost
  • githubUri - Github URL. You can change this if you happen to be running your own instance of Github
  • githubApiUri - Github API URL
  • jobsFile - This is the JSON file which contains all of your job data, by default this is config/jobs.json
  • emailFile - This is the JSON file which contains the email configuration information
  • local_url - This is the URL for the machine from the outside. The pull request webhook will be created using this URL.


  • from - {String} - This is the email address that the emails will have in the from field
  • to - {Array of Strings} - These are the email address that the notifications will be sent to


  • jobs - {Array of jobs} - This is the array of jobs that the server will run. The structure of a job is described below


Note: For this example, I am using a more javascript style syntax to make it easier to read, but the actual jobs should be in properly formatted JSON. If you don't know what this means, take a look at the examples

  // This is the Job title. It is used as a unique identifier for the job
  title : "Mongoose: Master Branch",
  // This is the name of the project that this job relates to
  projectName : "Mongoose",
  // This is the URL of the Github repository
  repoUrl : "",
  // This is the URL to clone your repository from (Only required if you
  // are using a private repository)
  cloneUrl : "",
  // This is the branch or tag name that the job should watch for
  ref : "master",
  // run benchmarks on pull requests? (true to enabled, false to disable)
  watchPullRequests : true,
  // tags to run these tests on
  tags : [ "3.6.15", "3.6.14" ],
  // These are the commands to run before the tasks run
  before : ["npm install -d"],
  // These are the benchmark tasks to run
  tasks : [
    // each task has a title, which servers as a unique identifier and a
    // command, which is the shell command to execute to run the benchmarks
    { title : "performance", command : "node benchmarks.js" }
  // This is the command to run after all tasks have been completed. 
  after : "node postProcessing.js",
  // These are the charts to generate.
  charts : [
    // For more information on the format for charts, see below.
  // The branch that the new data and charts should be committed to.
  // Defaults to gh-pages.
  saveBranch : "gh-pages",
  // The location in your repository where the benchmark data should be saved.
  saveLoc : "benchmarks/",
  // These are files you could like to have from other branches when you
  // run your benchmarks. These are particularly useful if you are trying to
  // run benchmarks on old tags that do not have the benchmark code in their
  // version of the repository. 
  // refs - these are the refs where the files should be preserved. These
  //        values can be any tag name or the name on the ref property
  // files - These are the actual files to preserve
  // In this example, only the run on the 3.6.15 tag will have the files
  // preserved, all other runs will not have access to the files specified below
  preservedFiles : {
    refs : [ "3.6.15" ],
    files : [
      { "branch" : "benchmarks", "name" : "benchmarks/main.js" }

Job Fields

These are the fields on each job, and an in depth explanation for them.

title - String

This is the title of the job. It should be unique from all other jobs running on this server. It is only used as a unique identifier.

projectName - String

This is the name of the project that the benchmarks are running for. This is only used for chart templating.

repoUrl - String

This is the https URL for your repository. make sure it is an https address

cloneUrl - String

This is the ssh url for your repository. Only specify it if you are running benchmarks on a private repository.

ref - String

This is the ref name for what should be watched. The system will listen for push webhooks from Github and run the benchmarks if it is for a branch that we are interested in.

watchPullRequests - Boolean

This is whether or not to run the benchmarks on all pull requests. It will enable pull requests on all current pull requests and any incoming pull requests. true to enabled.

tags - Array of Strings

These are the tags to run these commands on. The system will check to see if a run has either failed or succeeded for each of these at startup. If one has not, then it will run them.

before - Array of Strings

This is an array of shell commands to run before any of the tasks are run. These will be run from the root of your repo and any output from them is discarded.

tasks - Array of Tasks

This is an array of task objects. Each task object has the following structure:

{ title : "someBenchmark", "command" : "node someBenchmark.js" }

Title is a unique identifier for the task, it will be used when specifying charts or if you need to access the information generated by this test during the after command. Command is a shell command to be run from the command line. It will be run from the root directory of your repository and it should produce JSON output on stdout to represent the data from that run.

NOTE: The fields of the JSON output cannot contain $ or . These will cause errors.

after - String

This is a single command to be run after all of the tasks have completed. It will have the results of the tasks streamed to it on stdin in the following format:

  task1.title : { ... output ... },
  task2.title : { ... output ... },
  task3.title : { ... output ... }

Where the task1.title, ect. is replace by the title of the task. This command should also produce JSON content on stdout, which will be saved as the output for the run. This is the content that will be used when generating the charts. IT IS HIGHLY RECOMMENDED THAT YOU KEEP IT IN THIS SAME FORMAT, IE. taskTitle : content. The reasoning behind this is explained in the charts section


This uses node's child_process.spawn method to run this command. Thus, the command is split along spaces and the first item is treated as the program name, and the rest of the items are passed in as arguments.

IE. node someThing.js --flags means node is run with someThing.js as argument 1 and --flags as argument 2. Do not try and pipe stuff like grep * | node fail.js, ect.

This is different from the before and task commands, which are all run using exec.

charts - Array of Charts

By default, gh-benchmarks supports 3 kinds of graphs: line, single bar, and multiple bar. The formats for each of these looks a little different, and it easy to add your own chart renderer if you would like.

Single Bar

Single bar graph track a single value across commits and create a vertical bar for each commit/tag

  title : "Single Bar Title",
  type : "singleBar",
  config : { taskTitle : "title of the task", field : "field of the output to graph" }

For example, if you have some task { title : "perf", command : "node perf.js" } and it produces the following JSON output when it finishes { time : X, ops : 123456 } Then in order to graph the ops value, you would have a chart like this:

  title : "Single Bar Title",
  type : "singleBar",
  config : { taskTitle : "perf", field : "ops" }

Multiple Bar

This is a set of bars per commit/tag.

  title : "Multi-Bar Title",
  type : "multiBar",
  units : "english name for the units of measure",
  config : { values : [
    { taskTitle : "title of the task", field : "field 1", title : "name on graph" },
    { taskTitle : "title of the task", field : "field 2", title : "name on graph" },
    { taskTitle : "title of the task", field : "field 3", title : "name on graph" },
    { taskTitle : "title of the task", field : "field 4", title : "name on graph" }
  ] }

For example, if you had two tasks { title : "insert", command : "node insert.js" } and { title : "update", command : "node update.js" } and each produced output that looked like { time : X, ops : 123456 } then the graph configuration would look like:

  title : "Multi-Bar Title",
  type : "multiBar",
  units : "ops per second",
  config : { values : [
    { taskTitle : "insert", field : "ops", title : "some english readable title" },
    { taskTitle : "update", field : "ops", title : "some other readable thing" }
  ] }

Line Graph

This is 1 or more lines graphed with the x-axis being commits/tags.

  title : "Line Title",
  type : "line",
  units : "english name for the units of measure",
  config : { lines : [
    { taskTitle : "title of the task", field : "field 1", title : "name on graph" },
    { taskTitle : "title of the task", field : "field 2", title : "name on graph" },
    { taskTitle : "title of the task", field : "field 3", title : "name on graph" },
    { taskTitle : "title of the task", field : "field 4", title : "name on graph" }
  ] }

For example, if you had two tasks { title : "insert", command : "node insert.js" } and { title : "update", command : "node update.js" } and each produced output that looked like { time : X, ops : 123456 } then the graph configuration would look like:

  title : "Line Title",
  type : "line",
  units : "ops per second",
  config : { lines : [
    { taskTitle : "insert", field : "ops", title : "some english readable title" },
    { taskTitle : "insert", field : "ops", title : "some english readable title" }
  ] }

How taskTitle and field are used

As mentioned in the output script, it is highly recommended to keep the output in the same format. This is because the grapher essentially graphs its values using code like this: Object.byString(run.output[taskTitle], field)

Object.byString is a function that can get nested reference by using a string. So, these are all valid field values : "prop.anotherprop.thing", "prop[0].thing", and "thing". Keep this in mind when doing post-processing computation and modifying the output of your tasks.

saveBranch - String

This is the branch that all of the content for the charts will be saved to. It defaults to gh-pages because the intended purpose of this tool is to automatically upload charts of benchmarks to github for display using Github pages.

saveLoc - String

This is the location in the repository to save the generated files. This should be a path relative to your repository root.

preservedFiles - Object

This is an object that has a list of files to make available and the list of refs for which to make them available.

  preservedFiles : {
    refs : [ "ref-name", "tag1-name" ],
    files : [
      { branch : "benchmarks", name : "benchmarks/inserts.js" }

Each ref name should either be found on the ref property of the job or in the tags array.

Each file takes the following form:

{ branch : "benchmarks", name : "benchmarks/inserts.js" }

These are only other files in the repository. This feature is meant to allow you to either keep all benchmarking code in its own branch or to run these benchmarks on old tags that do not have the benchmarks in them.

If you would like your preservedFiles during pull request runs, include __PULLREQUESTS__ as a value in the ref array.

Pull Requests

gh-benchmarks can also run against pull requests submitted to your repository. When the watchPullRequests property on a job is set to true, the repository will be monitored for future pull requests and run against all current pull requests.

The system will post the results as a comment on the pull request in plain text. Thus, it is recommend that you have your benchmarks output plain text and JSON based off the environment variable PULL_REQUEST which will be set to true when a task is being run for a pull request.

In order for pull requests to work correctly though, you must give the system login credentials to Github. These should be specified via the githubUsername and githubPassword environment variables. Even if you do not run the benchmarks against pull requests, it is still recommended to have these set because it will greatly increase the number of API requests allowed per hour. The script will ask you for your username and password before continuing, it is recommended that you use this script and forever to run gh-benchmarks.

If you would like access to your preservedFiles during pull requests, you need to add __PULLREQUESTS__ to the ref list on the preservedFiles property.

Admin Commands

Admin commands are manual administrative tasks that can be run in order to do cleanup or re-run a failed task. They can all be accessed using port 8081 on localhost, thus it is highly recommended that you keep port 8081 closed to the public.

curl http://localhost:8081/?command=<command name>


This command re-runs and tasks that have failed or are currently pending. This can be particularly useful if, for some strange reason, gh-benchmarks crashes in the middle of a run and you need to re-run all of the pending tasks.

curl http://localhost:8081/?command=runFailed


This command allows you to specify a commit for the benchmarks to be run on.

It has 3 require parameters:

  1. command - This should always be "runCommit"
  2. sha - this should be the full SHA of the commit you want to run the benchmarks on.
  3. jobTitle - This should be the job title of the job you want to attach this run to.

curl "http://localhost:8081/?command=runCommit&sha=<SHA here>&jobTitle=<title here>"

Note: If you use curl, it is important to have quotes around the URL. If you don't, then the command line interprets things weird and you will not be able to run the command correctly.

Extending the Charts

The charts are fairly easy to extend in functionality. You can add to the existing grapher by submitting pull requests to gh-benchmarks-grapher or by creating your own module. Installation/specs are below

You can see where we import the grapher at around line 74 in app.js. To install your new grapher, simply change this one line.

A grapher module must export 1 method, buildGraphs

exports.buildGraphs = function (runs, job, repo_loc, callback) {

buildGraphs will receive the following parameters:

  1. runs - This is an array of the mongoose objects that represent a run. Their schema can be found in model.js
  2. job - This is the job that the runs belong to. The job's schema can also be found in model.js as "JobDesc"
  3. repo_loc - This is the location of the repo relative to the current working directory
  4. callback - This is the callback function to fire when the grapher finishes running. It has the following signature: function callback(error, files) where files is an array of strings of the file names that were modified or added to the repo. These names should be relative to the root directory of the repository