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Automating projects (beta)

You can use built-in workflows or the API and GitHub Actions to manage your projects.

Note: Projects (beta) is currently in public beta and subject to change.

Introduction

You can add automation to help manage your project. Projects (beta) includes built-in workflows that you can configure through the UI. Additionally, you can write custom workflows with the GraphQL API and GitHub Actions.

Built-in workflows

Projects (beta) includes built-in workflows that you can use to update the Status of items based on certain events. For example, you can automatically set the status to Todo when an item is added to your project or set the status to Done when an issue is closed.

When your project initializes, two workflows are enabled by default: When issues or pull requests in your project are closed, their status is set to Done, and when pull requests in your project are merged, their status is set to Done.

You can enable or disable the built-in workflows for your project.

  1. Navigate to your project.
  2. In the top-right, click to open the menu.
  3. In the menu, click Workflows.
  4. Under Default workflows, click on the workflow that you want to edit.
  5. If the workflow can apply to both issues and pull requests, next to When, check the item type(s) that you want to act on.
  6. Next to Set, choose the value that you want to set the status to.
  7. If the workflow is disabled, click the toggle next to Disabled to enable the workflow.

GitHub Actions workflows

This section demonstrates how to use the GraphQL API and GitHub Actions to add a pull request to an organization project. In the example workflows, when the pull request is marked as "ready for review", a new task is added to the project with a "Status" field set to "Todo", and the current date is added to a custom "Date posted" field.

You can copy one of the workflows below and modify it as described in the table below to meet your needs.

A project can span multiple repositories, but a workflow is specific to a repository. Add the workflow to each repository that you want your project to track. For more information about creating workflow files, see "Quickstart for GitHub Actions."

This article assumes that you have a basic understanding of GitHub Actions. For more information about GitHub Actions, see "GitHub Actions."

For more information about other changes you can make to your project through the API, see "Using the API to manage projects."

Note: GITHUB_TOKEN is scoped to the repository level and cannot access projects (beta). To access projects (beta) you can either create a GitHub App (recommended for organization projects) or a personal access token (recommended for user projects). Workflow examples for both approaches are shown below.

Example workflow authenticating with a GitHub App

  1. Create a GitHub App or choose an existing GitHub App owned by your organization. For more information, see "Creating a GitHub App."

  2. Give your GitHub App read and write permissions to organization projects. For more information, see "Editing a GitHub App's permissions."

    Note: You can control your app's permission to organization projects and to repository projects. You must give permission to read and write organization projects; permission to read and write repository projects will not be sufficient.

  3. Install the GitHub App in your organization. Install it for all repositories that your project needs to access. For more information, see "Installing GitHub Apps."

  4. Store your GitHub App's ID as a secret in your repository or organization. In the following workflow, replace APP_ID with the name of the secret. You can find your app ID on the settings page for your app or through the App API. For more information, see "Apps."

  5. Generate a private key for your app. Store the contents of the resulting file as a secret in your repository or organization. (Store the entire contents of the file, including -----BEGIN RSA PRIVATE KEY----- and -----END RSA PRIVATE KEY-----.) In the following workflow, replace APP_PEM with the name of the secret. For more information, see "Authenticating with GitHub Apps."

  6. In the following workflow, replace YOUR_ORGANIZATION with the name of your organization. For example, octo-org. Replace YOUR_PROJECT_NUMBER with your project number. To find the project number, look at the project URL. For example, https://github.com/orgs/octo-org/projects/5 has a project number of 5.

YAML
# This workflow uses actions that are not certified by GitHub.
# They are provided by a third-party and are governed by
# separate terms of service, privacy policy, and support
# documentation.

name: Add PR to project
on:
  pull_request:
    types:
      - ready_for_review
jobs:
  track_pr:
    runs-on: ubuntu-latest
    steps:
      - name: Generate token
        id: generate_token
        uses: tibdex/github-app-token@36464acb844fc53b9b8b2401da68844f6b05ebb0
        with:
          app_id: ${{ secrets.APP_ID }}
          private_key: ${{ secrets.APP_PEM }}

      - name: Get project data
        env:
          GITHUB_TOKEN: ${{ steps.generate_token.outputs.token }}
          ORGANIZATION: YOUR_ORGANIZATION
          PROJECT_NUMBER: YOUR_PROJECT_NUMBER
        run: |
          gh api graphql -f query='
            query($org: String!, $number: Int!) {
              organization(login: $org){
                projectNext(number: $number) {
                  id
                  fields(first:20) {
                    nodes {
                      id
                      name
                      settings
                    }
                  }
                }
              }
            }' -f org=$ORGANIZATION -F number=$PROJECT_NUMBER > project_data.json

          echo 'PROJECT_ID='$(jq '.data.organization.projectNext.id' project_data.json) >> $GITHUB_ENV
          echo 'DATE_FIELD_ID='$(jq '.data.organization.projectNext.fields.nodes[] | select(.name== "Date posted") | .id' project_data.json) >> $GITHUB_ENV
          echo 'STATUS_FIELD_ID='$(jq '.data.organization.projectNext.fields.nodes[] | select(.name== "Status") | .id' project_data.json) >> $GITHUB_ENV
          echo 'TODO_OPTION_ID='$(jq '.data.organization.projectNext.fields.nodes[] | select(.name== "Status") |.settings | fromjson.options[] | select(.name=="Todo") |.id' project_data.json) >> $GITHUB_ENV

      - name: Add PR to project
        env:
          GITHUB_TOKEN: ${{ steps.generate_token.outputs.token }}
          PR_ID: ${{ github.event.pull_request.node_id }}
        run: |
          item_id="$( gh api graphql -f query='
            mutation($project:ID!, $pr:ID!) {
              addProjectNextItem(input: {projectId: $project, contentId: $pr}) {
                projectNextItem {
                  id
                }
              }
            }' -f project=$PROJECT_ID -f pr=$PR_ID --jq '.data.addProjectNextItem.projectNextItem.id')"
          
          echo 'ITEM_ID='$item_id >> $GITHUB_ENV

      - name: Get date
        run: echo "DATE=$(date +"%Y-%m-%d")" >> $GITHUB_ENV

      - name: Set fields
        env:
          GITHUB_TOKEN: ${{ steps.generate_token.outputs.token }}
        run: |
          gh api graphql -f query='
            mutation (
              $project: ID!
              $item: ID!
              $status_field: ID!
              $status_value: String!
              $date_field: ID!
              $date_value: String!
            ) {
              set_status: updateProjectNextItemField(input: {
                projectId: $project
                itemId: $item
                fieldId: $status_field
                value: $status_value
              }) {
                projectNextItem {
                  id
                  }
              }
              set_date_posted: updateProjectNextItemField(input: {
                projectId: $project
                itemId: $item
                fieldId: $date_field
                value: $date_value
              }) {
                projectNextItem {
                  id
                }
              }
            }' -f project=$PROJECT_ID -f item=$ITEM_ID -f status_field=$STATUS_FIELD_ID -f status_value=${{ env.TODO_OPTION_ID }} -f date_field=$DATE_FIELD_ID -f date_value=$DATE --silent

Example workflow authenticating with a personal access token

  1. Create a personal access token with org:write scope. For more information, see "Creating a personal access token."
  2. Save the personal access token as a secret in your repository or organization.
  3. In the following workflow, replace YOUR_TOKEN with the name of the secret. Replace YOUR_ORGANIZATION with the name of your organization. For example, octo-org. Replace YOUR_PROJECT_NUMBER with your project number. To find the project number, look at the project URL. For example, https://github.com/orgs/octo-org/projects/5 has a project number of 5.
YAML
name: Add PR to project
on:
  pull_request:
    types:
      - ready_for_review
jobs:
  track_pr:
    runs-on: ubuntu-latest
    steps:
      - name: Get project data
        env:
          GITHUB_TOKEN: ${{ secrets.YOUR_TOKEN }}
          ORGANIZATION: YOUR_ORGANIZATION
          PROJECT_NUMBER: YOUR_PROJECT_NUMBER
        run: |
          gh api graphql -f query='
            query($org: String!, $number: Int!) {
              organization(login: $org){
                projectNext(number: $number) {
                  id
                  fields(first:20) {
                    nodes {
                      id
                      name
                      settings
                    }
                  }
                }
              }
            }' -f org=$ORGANIZATION -F number=$PROJECT_NUMBER > project_data.json

          echo 'PROJECT_ID='$(jq '.data.organization.projectNext.id' project_data.json) >> $GITHUB_ENV
          echo 'DATE_FIELD_ID='$(jq '.data.organization.projectNext.fields.nodes[] | select(.name== "Date posted") | .id' project_data.json) >> $GITHUB_ENV
          echo 'STATUS_FIELD_ID='$(jq '.data.organization.projectNext.fields.nodes[] | select(.name== "Status") | .id' project_data.json) >> $GITHUB_ENV
          echo 'TODO_OPTION_ID='$(jq '.data.organization.projectNext.fields.nodes[] | select(.name== "Status") |.settings | fromjson.options[] | select(.name=="Todo") |.id' project_data.json) >> $GITHUB_ENV

      - name: Add PR to project
        env:
          GITHUB_TOKEN: ${{ secrets.YOUR_TOKEN }}
          PR_ID: ${{ github.event.pull_request.node_id }}
        run: |
          item_id="$( gh api graphql -f query='
            mutation($project:ID!, $pr:ID!) {
              addProjectNextItem(input: {projectId: $project, contentId: $pr}) {
                projectNextItem {
                  id
                }
              }
            }' -f project=$PROJECT_ID -f pr=$PR_ID --jq '.data.addProjectNextItem.projectNextItem.id')"
          
          echo 'ITEM_ID='$item_id >> $GITHUB_ENV

      - name: Get date
        run: echo "DATE=$(date +"%Y-%m-%d")" >> $GITHUB_ENV

      - name: Set fields
        env:
          GITHUB_TOKEN: ${{ secrets.YOUR_TOKEN }}
        run: |
          gh api graphql -f query='
            mutation (
              $project: ID!
              $item: ID!
              $status_field: ID!
              $status_value: String!
              $date_field: ID!
              $date_value: String!
            ) {
              set_status: updateProjectNextItemField(input: {
                projectId: $project
                itemId: $item
                fieldId: $status_field
                value: $status_value
              }) {
                projectNextItem {
                  id
                  }
              }
              set_date_posted: updateProjectNextItemField(input: {
                projectId: $project
                itemId: $item
                fieldId: $date_field
                value: $date_value
              }) {
                projectNextItem {
                  id
                }
              }
            }' -f project=$PROJECT_ID -f item=$ITEM_ID -f status_field=$STATUS_FIELD_ID -f status_value=${{ env.TODO_OPTION_ID }} -f date_field=$DATE_FIELD_ID -f date_value=$DATE --silent

Workflow explanation

The following table explains sections of the example workflows and shows you how to adapt the workflows for your own use.

on:
  pull_request:
    types:
      - ready_for_review
This workflow runs whenever a pull request in the repository is marked as "ready for review".

GitHub App only:

- name: Generate token
  id: generate_token
  uses: tibdex/github-app-token@36464acb844fc53b9b8b2401da68844f6b05ebb0
  with:
    app_id: ${{ secrets.APP_ID }}
    private_key: ${{ secrets.APP_PEM }}
Uses the tibdex/github-app-token action to generate an installation access token for your app from the app ID and private key. The installation access token is accessed later in the workflow as ${{ steps.generate_token.outputs.token }}.

Replace APP_ID with the name of the secret that contains your app ID.

Replace APP_PEM with the name of the secret that contains your app private key.

GitHub App:

env:
  GITHUB_TOKEN: ${{ steps.generate_token.outputs.token }}
  ORGANIZATION: YOUR_ORGANIZATION
  PROJECT_NUMBER: YOUR_PROJECT_NUMBER

Personal access token:

env:
  GITHUB_TOKEN: ${{ secrets.YOUR_TOKEN }}
  ORGANIZATION: YOUR_ORGANIZATION
  PROJECT_NUMBER: YOUR_PROJECT_NUMBER
Sets environment variables for this step.

If you are using a personal access token, replace YOUR_TOKEN with the name of the secret that contains your personal access token.

Replace YOUR_ORGANIZATION with the name of your organization. For example, octo-org.

Replace YOUR_PROJECT_NUMBER with your project number. To find the project number, look at the project URL. For example, https://github.com/orgs/octo-org/projects/5 has a project number of 5.
gh api graphql -f query='
  query($org: String!, $number: Int!) {
    organization(login: $org){
      projectNext(number: $number) {
        id
        fields(first:20) {
          nodes {
            id
            name
            settings
          }
        }
      }
    }
  }' -f org=$ORGANIZATION -F number=$PROJECT_NUMBER > project_data.json
Uses GitHub CLI to query the API for the ID of the project and for the ID, name, and settings for the first 20 fields in the project. The response is stored in a file called project_data.json.
echo 'PROJECT_ID='$(jq '.data.organization.projectNext.id' project_data.json) >> $GITHUB_ENV
echo 'DATE_FIELD_ID='$(jq '.data.organization.projectNext.fields.nodes[] | select(.name== "Date posted") | .id' project_data.json) >> $GITHUB_ENV
echo 'STATUS_FIELD_ID='$(jq '.data.organization.projectNext.fields.nodes[] | select(.name== "Status") | .id' project_data.json) >> $GITHUB_ENV
echo 'TODO_OPTION_ID='$(jq '.data.organization.projectNext.fields.nodes[] | select(.name== "Status") |.settings | fromjson.options[] | select(.name=="Todo") |.id' project_data.json) >> $GITHUB_ENV
Parses the response from the API query and stores the relevant IDs as environment variables. Modify this to get the ID for different fields or options. For example:
  • To get the ID of a field called Team, add echo 'TEAM_FIELD_ID='$(jq '.data.organization.projectNext.fields.nodes[] | select(.name== "Team") | .id' project_data.json) >> $GITHUB_ENV.
  • To get the ID of an option called Octoteam for the Team field, add echo 'OCTOTEAM_OPTION_ID='$(jq '.data.organization.projectNext.fields.nodes[] | select(.name== "Team") |.settings | fromjson.options[] | select(.name=="Octoteam") |.id' project_data.json) >> $GITHUB_ENV
Note: This workflow assumes that you have a project with a single select field called "Status" that includes an option called "Todo" and a date field called "Date posted". You must modify this section to match the fields that are present in your table.

GitHub App:

env:
  GITHUB_TOKEN: ${{ steps.generate_token.outputs.token }}
  PR_ID: ${{ github.event.pull_request.node_id }}

Personal access token:

env:
  GITHUB_TOKEN: ${{ secrets.YOUR_TOKEN }}
  PR_ID: ${{ github.event.pull_request.node_id }}
Sets environment variables for this step. GITHUB_TOKEN is described above. PR_ID is the ID of the pull request that triggered this workflow.
item_id="$( gh api graphql -f query='
  mutation($project:ID!, $pr:ID!) {
    addProjectNextItem(input: {projectId: $project, contentId: $pr}) {
      projectNextItem {
        id
      }
    }
  }' -f project=$PROJECT_ID -f pr=$PR_ID --jq '.data.addProjectNextItem.projectNextItem.id')"
Uses GitHub CLI and the API to add the pull request that triggered this workflow to the project. The jq flag parses the response to get the ID of the created item.
echo 'ITEM_ID='$item_id >> $GITHUB_ENV
Stores the ID of the created item as an environment variable.
echo "DATE=$(date +"%Y-%m-%d")" >> $GITHUB_ENV
Saves the current date as an environment variable in yyyy-mm-dd format.

GitHub App:

env:
  GITHUB_TOKEN: ${{ steps.generate_token.outputs.token }}

Personal access token:

env:
  GITHUB_TOKEN: ${{ secrets.YOUR_TOKEN }}
Sets environment variables for this step. GITHUB_TOKEN is described above.
gh api graphql -f query='
  mutation (
    $project: ID!
    $item: ID!
    $status_field: ID!
    $status_value: String!
    $date_field: ID!
    $date_value: String!
  ) {
    set_status: updateProjectNextItemField(input: {
      projectId: $project
      itemId: $item
      fieldId: $status_field
      value: $status_value
    }) {
      projectNextItem {
        id
        }
    }
    set_date_posted: updateProjectNextItemField(input: {
      projectId: $project
      itemId: $item
      fieldId: $date_field
      value: $date_value
    }) {
      projectNextItem {
        id
      }
    }
  }' -f project=$PROJECT_ID -f item=$ITEM_ID -f status_field=$STATUS_FIELD_ID -f status_value=${{ env.TODO_OPTION_ID }} -f date_field=$DATE_FIELD_ID -f date_value=$DATE --silent
Sets the value of the Status field to Todo. Sets the value of the Date posted field.