Github Actions Workflow Visualization UI Update

Last night Github appears to have released a big update to the Github Actions workflow user interface.

While there has not been a post on the Github changelog about this yet, the Github roadmap does list #88 Actions: Workflow visualization as feature that was slotted for Github Enterprise customers but became a release for all users as of mid-October.

Here’s a comparison of a workflow detail view as of yesterday versus today on the same Github Actions workflow. (Note, I also run refined-github so you may notice unrelated style improvements in some elements):

Previous Github Workflow UI
Update to Github Workflow UI

My primary concern with this view was not only related to the visual presentation of workflow, which I had already tried to mend using stylebot) but that the data output from individual jobs in workflows was disappearing and required unexpected refresh.

There is also a new brand new Workflow Summary tab:

New Github Actions Workflow Summary Tab

In this project, I’m working entirely with Self-Hosted Runners that have a fairly detailed CI/CD requirement.

My other projects use Github runners, and I think Github Actions is a major improvement in delivering CI/CD to projects and takes advantage of the resources provided by the Microsoft acquisition via Azure.

If I have time, I’ll offer a more detailed analysis of the change. For now, you can see my previous writing on Running Django Tests in Github Actions.

Want to Spread an Idea Fast? Describe it with Software.

I’ve been thinking about ideas recently. What it takes to move from neurons in one person’s head to changing the lives of many.

The essence of an idea can be documented in a software’s backend system. Hidden behind the buttons you click on and input boxes you type into is a backend describes complex “business rules” or logic that describe the idea.

The focus of my work very recently is expression of an idea in software at its various user interface (UI) endpoints. A goal of this work is to build interfaces that communicate the fundamental idea to people while solving specific existing problems.

Even unknowingly, users are influenced by core concepts that drive a software system’s behavior. When people engage with a system via a software UI, it can establish new social norms and behavior.

For example, if you have used Wikipedia, you are immediately learning that it is possible for anyone to share important information using writing and pictures and that this can be reviewed by and edited by peers for free.

The idea that people could collaborate in such a way was not widely accepted as a good one to understand until a backend system and desktop web interface was created to express the idea.

In Facebook’s S-1 filing, Mark Zuckerberg said Facebook was created “to accomplish a social mission–to make the world open and more connected.” To express such an idea in software at the time meant reliving past ideas like MySpace’s wall and bringing new taste to the expression of the idea. Interestingly, part of Facebook’s success was in limiting the idea’s early availability to students.

Compared to reading a white paper or listening to a lecture, average folks will probably understand the meaning of an idea more quickly by interacting with it via software. That is, if the software is fun to use.

Software can now spread to individuals extremely fast.  This is exciting because when a sufficiently advanced new idea is described for the first time in software, the idea may be spread nearly as fast.

This suggests that if you have a big new idea and want the idea to influence how people think and behave, perhaps you should consider how it would be described using software.