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zen-hooks 3.0.2 Server Setup


The zen-hooks script enables gitlab, the zenman webservers, and our local machines to talk to each other.

This master branch contains instructions pertinent to gitlab and the zenman webservers.

If you're trying to set up your local machine, check out local setup instructions in the local branch's or download the local files.


These are the basic setup instructions; you may want to skim over the other script options to see if there are other features you'd like to take advantage of.

After creating a project in gitlab:

  1. Add the web hook http://YOUR_SERVER_ADDRESS/zen-hooks/?client=client_folder_name&project=project_folder_name under Settings > Web Hooks (replacing client and project folder names appropriately).
  2. Enable the Zenman Web Servers deployment key in Settings > Deployment Keys.

Your gitlab project is now connected to the Zenman web servers.


The zen-hooks script is pretty flexible. Most interaction after setup happens locally, and you can find instructions here.

Basically, when pushed up to gitlab, branches similar to the following will get pulled into YOUR_SERVER_ADDRESS via the zen-hooks script:

  • dev
  • dev_feature
  • dev_slider

Similarly, you can push to any other Zenman web server by prefixing your branch name appropriately:

  • test will get pulled into YOUR_SERVER_ADDRESS
  • test_qa will get pulled into YOUR_SERVER_ADDRESS
  • stage will get pulled into YOUR_SERVER_ADDRESS

Usage for WordPress Sites

The zen-hooks script can handle the database for WordPress sites. (If however you choose to handle updating the database manually, there's no need to implement the following instructions.) You just need to pass in the additional query &type=wp with the url. For example:


You should have a few things in place before pushing up changes for WordPress sites:

  1. Your zen-config.php should have the correct database credentials for all servers you intend to pull into.

  2. Dump a database you'd like the zen-hooks script to use into /.db/db.sql. No find and replace is necessary as the script will replace the value of siteurl with the appropriate url based on the server that's pulling in the code.

Extended Description

The zen-hooks script is flexible enough to handle a variety of situations.

WordPress Sites

If you tell the script your project is a WordPress site, it employs some special database handling capabilities. It relies on the details you feed it through the zen-config.php file, so ensure these are as you want them to be before pushing to gitlab. Then, a couple of things can happen:

  • If the database doesn't exist, the script creates it with a same-named user.
  • For existing databases, the script will drop tables, import the /.db/db.sql file, and do a find and replace based on the imported database siteurl.


You can turn on logging by passing in the &log=true query. (Another option is &log=debug, which will include the file name and line number from the zen-hooks script itself; unless you're working on the zen-hooks script, this is probably unnecessary.) You can SSH into the server and tail this file for continuous logging like this:

ssh -t YOUR_USERNAME@YOUR_SERVER_ADDRESS 'tail -f /PATH_FROM_ROOT/zen-hooks/webhook.log && bash'

The script uses a pretty primitive logging system but is better than nothing. Some PHP errors will also be logged in this file. The file will get truncated to 1000 lines when it reaches 100000 lines to ensure it doesn't get unmanageable. Therefore, don't wait too long to check the log or your results will get overwritten, and when the truncation occurs on occasion you might need to rerun your tail.

Pull a Specific Branch

Sometimes you may want to trigger the pull from gitlab to the webserver without repeatedly pushing from your local machine. For instance, if you forgot to add &debug=true or &type=wp then the code is accurate locally and on gitlab, but has been pulled in improperly to the webserver.

Normally the zen-hooks script will pull the branch from the push that initiated the webhook call. However, if you create a new webhook and add the query string &pull=some_branch, you can click the Test Hook button in gitlab to pull in that branch instead. This behaves just like pushing that branch, so "testing" dev will result in the YOUR_SERVER_ADDRESS webserver pulling in the latest from the dev branch, test_feature will pull in the test_feature branch to the YOUR_SERVER_ADDRESS server, and so on.

Make sure to immediately remove this webhook once you're done with it or every push to gitlab will continue to pull the same branch regardless of what branch you're pushing up.

Server Check

The script checks to ensure the branch matches an available server. If you push a branch named dev_feature_name, it will pull changes into YOUR_SERVER_ADDRESS. However, if you push blah_feature or master, the script will cease execution. It's important to note that gitlab is unaware of the zen-hooks script's activities, so you can certainly push such brances to gitlab and it will track your changes just fine.

This adds quite a bit of flexibility as you can pull changes into any Zenman web server that follows the zen_servername1 format. If we add a server (as we did with a while ago), the script will automatically be compatible.

Preview Branch

The script always uses a branch called gitlab_preview. Don't actually use this branch in your projects as the history gets really messed up (the script uses reset --hard to avoid merge conflicts).

Automated Backup Commits

The script also backs up the last five working directory states on branches in the format gitlab_autosave_at_Y_m_d_H_i_s (for example, gitlab_autosave_at_2014_11_02_17_14_08 was saved on November 02, 2014 at 17 hours in 24 hour format, 14 minutes, and 8 seconds; it's essentially biggest to smallest time measurements). The script just keeps the last five automated backup commits, deleting older automated commits as needed.

If you specified in the webhook url that your project is a WordPress-type project, the script will also attempt to find a zen-config.php file and include a database dump in the automated backup commit.

Existing Projects in Directory

If there is existing code in the project directory, the automated backup commit will preserve it for you, whether it's currently a git repository or not.

Nonexistent Directories

If the client directory doesn't yet exist, the script creates it and copies the client_template setup. If the project directory doesn't exist, the creates it and pulls the code into it. In theory, this makes the script compatible with Tom's server promotion app, although there may be some issues (e.g. currently script doesn't recognize the new zen-config.php setup).

Duplicate Pushes

If the current commit for the targeted webserver is identical to the commit the the webhook is requesting to pull, the zen-hooks script will exit and won't perform the update. This prevents data loss in the event gitlab encounters a non-fatal error and racks up a queue of retries and repeatedly attempts to overwrite what's on the webserver with the same commit. If you push two branches that currently share an identical commit, the zen-hooks script will similarly exit.

To Do:

The zen-hooks script can still use improvement. If you have time to implement any of these (or to make overall improvements to existing scripts), feel free to contribute. Here's the future enhancement list:

  • Create local setup script/file set.
  • Handle back-to-back pushes (e.g. ensure one finishes before the next can start).
  • Create a status log (beyond the log=true feature) we can use to see when the script has finished running.
  • Eliminate the client_name and project__name webhook url requirement for WordPress sites by checking the .htaccess paths.
  • Eliminate the type=wp webhook url requirement by checking automatically (e.g. checking for zen-config.php or wp-content or something).



  • Added better error checking for database scripts.


  • Added ability to pull a specific branch via the pull=branch_name query string.


  • Changed paths to work on new server.


Zenman webhooks for GitLab.




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