[jenkins] How can I test a change made to Jenkinsfile locally?

When writing jenkins pipelines it seems to be very inconvenient to commit each new change in order to see if it works.

Is there a way to execute these locally without committing the code?

This question is related to jenkins jenkins-workflow jenkins-pipeline

The answer is

Aside from the Replay feature that others already mentioned (ditto on its usefulness!), I found the following to be useful as well:

  1. Create a test Pipeline job where you can type in Pipeline code or point to your repo/branch of a Jenkinsfile to quickly test out something. For more accurate testing, use a Multibranch Pipeline that points to your own fork where you can quickly make changes and commit without affecting prod. Stuff like BRANCH_NAME env is only available in Multibranch.
  2. Since Jenkinsfile is Groovy code, simply invoke it with "groovy Jenkinsfile" to validate basic syntax.

You can just validate your pipeline to find out syntax issues. Jenkis has nice API for Jenkisfile validation - https://jenkins_url/pipeline-model-converter/validate

Using curl and passing your .Jenkinsfile, you will get syntax check instantly

curl --user username:password -X POST -F "jenkinsfile=<jenkinsfile" https://jenkins_url/pipeline-model-converter/validate

You can add this workflow to editors:

A bit late to the party, but that's why I wrote jenny, a small reimplementation of some core Jenkinsfile steps. (https://github.com/bmustiata/jenny)


Long Version
Jenkins Pipeline testing becomes more and more of a pain. Unlike the classic declarative job configuration approach where the user was limited to what the UI exposed the new Jenkins Pipeline is a full fledged programming language for the build process where you mix the declarative part with your own code. As good developers we want to have some unit tests for this kind of code as well.

There are three steps you should follow when developing Jenkins Pipelines. The step 1. should cover 80% of the uses cases.

  1. Do as much as possible in build scripts (eg. Maven, Gradle, Gulp etc.). Then in your pipeline scripts just calls the build tasks in the right order. The build pipeline just orchestrates and executes the build tasks but does not have any major logic that needs a special testing.
  2. If the previous rule can't be fully applied then move over to Pipeline Shared libraries where you can develop and test custom logic on its own and integrate them into the pipeline.
  3. If all of the above fails you, you can try one of those libraries that came up recently (March-2017). Jenkins Pipeline Unit testing framework or pipelineUnit (examples). Since 2018 there is also Jenkinsfile Runner, a package to execution Jenkins pipelines from a command line tool.


The pipelineUnit GitHub repo contains some Spock examples on how to use Jenkins Pipeline Unit testing framework

Put your SSH key into your Jenkins profile, then use the declarative linter as follows:

ssh jenkins.hostname.here declarative-linter < Jenkinsfile

This will do a static analysis on your Jenkinsfile. In the editor of your choice, define a keyboard shortcut that runs that command automatically. In Visual Studio Code, which is what I use, go to Tasks > Configure Tasks, then use the following JSON to create a Validate Jenkinsfile command:

  "version": "2.0.0",
  "tasks": [
      "label": "Validate Jenkinsfile",
      "type": "shell",
      "command": "ssh jenkins.hostname declarative-linter < ${file}"

Jenkins has a 'Replay' feature, which enables you to quickly replay a job without updating sources:

Replay feature

For simplicity, you can create a Jenkinsfile at the root of the git repository, similar to the below example 'Jenkinsfile' based on the groovy syntax of the declarative pipeline.

pipeline {

    agent any

    stages {
        stage('Build the Project') {
            steps {
                git 'https://github.com/jaikrgupta/CarthageAPI-1.0.git'
                echo pwd()
                sh 'ls -alrt'
                sh 'pip install -r requirements.txt'
                sh 'python app.py &'
                echo "Build stage gets finished here"
        stage('Test') {
            steps {
                sh 'chmod 777 ./scripts/test-script.sh'
                sh './scripts/test-script.sh'
                sh 'cat ./test-reports/test_script.log'
                echo "Test stage gets finished here"


You can now set up a new item in Jenkins as a Pipeline job. Select the Definition as Pipeline script from SCM and Git for the SCM option. Paste the project's git repo link in the Repository URL and Jenkinsfile in the script name box. Then click on the lightweight checkout option and save the project. So whenever you pushed a commit to the git repo, you can always test the changes running the Build Now every time in Jenkins.

Please follow the instructions in the below visuals for easy setup a Jenkins Pipeline's job.

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In my development setup – missing a proper Groovy editor – a great deal of Jenkinsfile issues originates from simple syntax errors. To tackle this issue, you can validate the Jenkinsfile against your Jenkins instance (running at $JENKINS_HTTP_URL):

curl -X POST -H $(curl '$JENKINS_HTTP_URL/crumbIssuer/api/xml?xpath=concat(//crumbRequestField,":",//crumb)') -F "jenkinsfile=<Jenkinsfile" $JENKINS_HTTP_URL/pipeline-model-converter/validate

The above command is a slightly modified version from https://github.com/jenkinsci/pipeline-model-definition-plugin/wiki/Validating-(or-linting)-a-Declarative-Jenkinsfile-from-the-command-line

With some limitations and for scripted pipelines I use this solution:

  1. Pipeline job with an inlined groovy script:

node('master') {
    stage('Run!') {
                def script = load('...you job file...')

  1. Jenkinsfile for testing have same structure as for lesfurets:

def execute() {
 ... main job code here ...

i am using replay future , to do some update and run quickly .

I have a solution that works well for me. It consists of a local jenkins running in docker and a git web hook to trigger the pipeline in the local jenkins on every commit. You no longer need to push to your github or bitbucket repository to test the pipeline.

This has only been tested in a linux environment.

It is fairly simple to make this work although this instruction is a tad long. Most steps are there.

This is what you need

  • Docker installed and working. This is not part of this instruction.
  • A Jenkins running in docker locally. Explained how below.
    • The proper rights (ssh access key) for your local Jenkins docker user to pull from your local git repo. Explained how below.
    • A Jenkins pipeline project that pulls from your local git repository. Explained below.
    • A git user in your local Jenkins with minimal rights. Explained below.
  • A git project with a post-commit web hook that triggers the pipeline project. Explained below.

This is how you do it

Jenkins Docker

Create a file called Dockerfile in place of your choosing. I'm placing it in /opt/docker/jenkins/Dockerfile fill it with this:

FROM jenkins/jenkins:lts
USER root
RUN apt-get -y update && apt-get -y upgrade
# Your needed installations goes here
USER jenkins

Build the local_jenkins image

This you will need to do only once or after you have added something to the Dockerfile.

$ docker build -t local_jenkins /opt/docker/jenkins/

Start and restart local_jenkins

From time to time you want to start and restart jenkins easily. E.g. after a reboot of your machine. For this I made an alias that I put in .bash_aliases in my home folder.

$ echo "alias localjenkinsrestart='docker stop jenkins;docker rm jenkins;docker run --name jenkins -i -d -p 8787:8080 -p 50000:50000 -v /opt/docker/jenkins/jenkins_home:/var/jenkins_home:rw local_jenkins'" >> ~/.bash_aliases
$ source .bash_aliases  # To make it work

Make sure the /opt/docker/jenkins/jenkins_home folder exists and that you have user read and write rights to it.

To start or restart your jenkins just type:

$ localjenkinsrestart

Everything you do in your local jenkins will be stored in the folder /opt/docker/jenkins/jenkins_home and preserved between restarts.

Create a ssh access key in your docker jenkins

This is a very important part for this to work. First we start the docker container and create a bash shell to it:

$ localjenkinsrestart
$ docker exec -it jenkins /bin/bash

You have now entered into the docker container, this you can see by something like jenkins@e7b23bad10aa:/$ in your terminal. The hash after the @ will for sure differ.

Create the key

jenkins@e7b23bad10aa:/$ ssh-keygen

Press enter on all questions until you get the prompt back

Copy the key to your computer. From within the docker container your computer is should you wonder.

jenkins@e7b23bad10aa:/$ ssh-copy-id [email protected]

user = your username and is the ip address to your computer from within the docker container.

You will have to type your password at this point.

Now lets try to complete the loop by ssh-ing to your computer from within the docker container.

jenkins@e7b23bad10aa:/$ ssh [email protected]

This time you should not need to enter you password. If you do, something went wrong and you have to try again.

You will now be in your computers home folder. Try ls and have a look.

Do not stop here since we have a chain of ssh shells that we need to get out of.

$ exit
jenkins@e7b23bad10aa:/$ exit

Right! Now we are back and ready to continue.

Install your Jenkins

You will find your local Jenkins in your browser at http://localhost:8787.

First time you point your browser to your local Jenkins your will be greated with a Installation Wizard. Defaults are fine, do make sure you install the pipeline plugin during the setup though.

Setup your jenkins

It is very important that you activate matrix based security on http://localhost:8787/configureSecurity and give yourself all rights by adding yourself to the matrix and tick all the boxes. (There is a tick-all-boxes icon on the far right)

  • Select Jenkins’ own user database as the Security Realm
  • Select Matrix-based security in the Authorization section
  • Write your username in the field User/group to add: and click on the [ Add ] button
  • In the table above your username should pop up with a people icon next to it. If it is crossed over you typed your username incorrectly.
  • Go to the far right of the table and click on the tick-all-button or manually tick all the boxes in your row.
  • Please verify that the checkbox Prevent Cross Site Request Forgery exploits is unchecked. (Since this Jenkins is only reachable from your computer this isn't such a big deal)
  • Click on [ Save ] and log out of Jenkins and in again just to make sure it works. If it doesn't you have to start over from the beginning and emptying the /opt/docker/jenkins/jenkins_home folder before restarting

Add the git user

We need to allow our git hook to login to our local Jenkins with minimal rights. Just to see and build jobs is sufficient. Therefore we create a user called git with password login.

Direct your browser to http://localhost:8787/securityRealm/addUser and add git as username and login as password. Click on [ Create User ].

Add the rights to the git user

Go to the http://localhost:8787/configureSecurity page in your browser. Add the git user to the matrix:

  • Write git in the field User/group to add: and click on [ Add ]

Now it is time to check the boxes for minimal rights to the git user. Only these are needed:

  • overall:read
  • job:build
  • job:discover
  • job:read

Make sure that the Prevent Cross Site Request Forgery exploits checkbox is unchecked and click on [ Save ]

Create the pipeline project

We assume we have the username user and our git enabled project with the Jenkinsfile in it is called project and is located at /home/user/projects/project

In your http://localhost:8787 Jenkins add a new pipeline project. I named it hookpipeline for reference.

  • Click on New Item in the Jenkins menu
  • Name the project hookpipeline
  • Click on Pipeline
  • Click [ OK ]
  • Tick the checkbox Poll SCM in the Build Triggers section. Leave the Schedule empty.
  • In the Pipeline section:
    • select Pipeline script from SCM
    • in the Repository URL field enter [email protected]:projects/project/.git
    • in the Script Path field enter Jenkinsfile
  • Save the hookpipeline project
  • Build the hookpipeline manually once, this is needed for the Poll SCM to start working.

Create the git hook

Go to the /home/user/projects/project/.git/hooks folder and create a file called post-commit that contains this:

BRANCHNAME=$(git rev-parse --abbrev-ref HEAD)

curl -XPOST -u git:login http://localhost:8787/job/hookpipeline/build
echo "Build triggered successfully on branch: $BRANCHNAME"

Make this file executable:

$ chmod +x /home/user/projects/project/.git/hooks/post-commit

Test the post-commit hook:

$ /home/user/projects/project/.git/hooks/post-commit

Check in Jenkins if your hookpipeline project was triggered.

Finally make some arbitrary change to your project, add the changes and do a commit. This will now trigger the pipeline in your local Jenkins.

Happy Days!

At the moment of writing (end of July 2017) with the Blue Ocean plugin you can check the syntax of a declarative pipeline directly in the visual pipeline editor. The editor, works from the Blue Ocean UI when you click "configure" only for github projects (this is a known issue and they are working to make it work also on git etc).

But, as explained in this question you can open the editor browsing to:

[Jenkins URL]/blue/organizations/jenkins/pipeline-editor/

Then click in the middle of the page, and press Ctrl+S, this will open a textarea where you can paste a pipeline declarative script. When you click on Update, if there is a syntax error, the editor will let you know where the syntax error is. Like in this screenshot:

As a quick test I wrongly typed "stepps" instead of "steps"

If there is no syntax error, the textarea will close and the page will visualize your pipeline. Don't worry it won't save anything (if it's a github project it would commit the Jenkinsfile change).

I'm new to Jenkins and this is quite helpful, without this I had to commit a Jenkinsfile many times, till it works (very annoying!). Hope this helps. Cheers.

As far as i know this Pipeline Plugin is the "Engine" of the new Jenkinsfile mechanics, so im quite positive you could use this to locally test your scripts.

Im not sure if there is any additional steps needed when you copy it into a Jenkinsfile, however the syntax etc should be exactly the same.

Edit: Found the reference on the "engine", check this feature description, last paragraph, first entry.

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