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GitHub Actions: A Maintainer's Best Friend

· 4 min read
Nick Taylor
AI Engineer

As developers, it’s in our best interest to automate things. The less we have to do in a manual way, the better. As soon as manual intervention is required, there is potential for failure or a mishap. Aside from that, it’s your time as a maintainer that could be spent elsewhere.

If you host your code on GitHub, besides scripts to automate certain actions, you can also leverage the huge ecosystem of GitHub Actions.

Practical Examples

Let’s look at some practical examples of GitHub actions helping maintainers.


If someone opens an issue on your repository, you could respond with a personal message saying thank you, but those keystrokes are probably better suited for other things. Automate a message reply instead, thanking the community member for creating the issue and mentioning you will look into it. An automated message to the issue opener is friendly, even if it’s automated.

A great GitHub action for this is Peter Evans’ Create or Update Comment action.

It’s used in the app repository for OpenSauced. Here’s how we have it configured.

When a new issue is opened, an issue responds with the following:

Automated comment when an issue is created in the OpenSauced App repository that says "Thanks for the issue, our team will look into it as soon as possible! If you would like to work on this issue, please wait for us to decide if it's ready. The issue will be ready to work on once we remove the "needs triage" label. To claim an issue that does not have the "needs triage" label, please leave a comment that says ".take". If you have any questions, please reach out to us on Discord or follow up on the issue itself. For full info on how to contribute, please check out our contributors guide."


My coworker bdougie (@bdougieyo) created the take Github action. It allows external contributors to self-assign issues by typing .take into a comment of an issue. This removes the burden of a bit of back and forth between contributors and maintainers.

OpenSauced contributor itskish0re self assigning an issue by using the .take command

Of course, we don’t want external contributors self-assigning any issue they want. The take action also has the concept of blocking labels. For example, if an issue has a 👀 needs triage label, we can add this label to a list of blocking labels.

Someone trying to self-assign an issue when there are blocking labels on the issue


Another action that came onto my radar a couple of days ago was thanks to styfle. Although I haven’t used it yet, nissuer looks like a great utility belt GitHub action for maintainers. The Next.js repository uses it, so I'm sure it brings lots of value to a maintainer.

I love this note they added in the README.

NOTE: Developers are coming to your project with all sorts of backgrounds/skill levels or understanding of the open-source world. Show empathy while using this action. 💚 We recommend adding comments that not only dismiss unhelpful issues/comments, but educate the user on how to be more helpful in the future.

Bespoke Actions

Don’t see a GitHub action for what you need? Create your own. You can even build your own by composing it from existing GitHub actions. Here's an example of a bespoke workflow I use for pulling in my latest video content from YouTube to my blog.

I'm using some GitHub Actions, a custom script that leverages the GitHub CLI and magic.

{% raw %}
name: Get latest videos
# Everyday at midnight UTC
- cron: '0 0 * * *'

name: Get latest videos
runs-on: ubuntu-latest
- uses: actions/checkout@v2
- uses: actions/setup-node@v3
node-version: 18
- name: Get latest videos
run: |
npm install
node bin/udpdateStreamingPage.js
- name: Setup git config
run: |
git config 'token-generator-app[bot]'
git config '82042599+token-generator-app[bot]'
- name: PR for Videos
run: |
{% endraw %}

You can see the results on the streaming page of my site.

The post is a bit out of date, but I discuss more in depth the automations for my website in


These are just examples of tasks you can automate, and if you’re using GitHub, there is a huge ecosystem of GitHub actions to help with your automation goals.

What are some GitHub actions that you’ve leveraged in your projects? Share them in the comments.

Stay saucy peeps!

If you would like to know more about my work in open source, follow me on OpenSauced.

Supercharge your Repository with Code Owners

· 3 min read
Nick Taylor
AI Engineer

As a maintainer of a repository, it’s in your best interest to automate processes as much as possible. The CODEOWNERS file is one of those tools to help with automating processes.

I decided to write a post about the CODEOWNERS file after reading this comment from one of our awesome Octerns, Divyansh (@diivi), in a pull request (PR) where I added the file.

GitHub user diivi commenting that they weren't aware of the CODEOWNERS feature

A CODEOWNERS file in GitHub is a special file used to specify who reviews and maintains specific files or directories in a repository. It helps with identifying code ownership and who should be notified when pull requests are made to those repositories.

For example, in this particular CODEOWNERS file there is the @open-sauced/engineering team.

A CODEOWNERS file with one team in it, @open-sauced/engineering

When someone creates a PR for that repository, that team is automatically added as a reviewer.

Reviewers for a PR in the GitHub UI including the @open-sauced/engineering team

This is really handy because you don’t need to go and manually add reviewers, and when it’s a PR from an external contributor, they can’t add reviewers so this is super useful for them and can avoid comments like, “Can someone review my PR?”

Another nice feature of the CODEOWNERS file is that it can be used as part of branch protection.

To enable this, go to the Protect matching branches section of a branch protection rule, and ensure the Require review from Code Owners option is checked.

GitHub PR review file where the UI says that the CODEOWNERS file is valid

One other thing to note is if you have permanent branches aside from main, like beta, dev, or whatever your team calls it, they can have different individuals and teams in those branches CODEOWNERS file.

How to add a CODEOWNERS file to your project

The CODEOWNERS file is a special file that can reside in the root directory, in the .github directory or the docs directory (if you have one).

The .github folder might not exist in your project if you haven’t added other GitHub automated processes like GitHub Actions, pull request templates, or issue templates.

Also note, GitHub looks for the first CODEOWNERS file it finds, searching first in the root directory, then the .github directory, and finally, the docs directory (if it exists).

You can add individual GitHub users, a team, or a combination of them to a CODEOWNERS file.

A CODEOWNERS file with teams an individuals in it

A nice feature of adding or making changes to a CODEOWNERS file in a pull request is that GitHub validates it, letting you know if you are adding a non-existent user or team.

Image description

If you don’t already have a CODEOWNERS file file in your repository, I encourage you to add one. Let us know if you have any questions about this or other maintainer-related issues.

Stay saucy peeps!

If you would like to know more about my work in open source, follow me on OpenSauced.

How we made our Go microservice 24x faster

· 10 min read
John McBride
Sr Software Engineer | AI Engineer

As data intensive backend applications scale and grow, with larger data sets scaled out to higher availability, performance bottlenecks can quickly become major hurdles. Processing requests that once took mere milliseconds can suddenly become multi-minute problems.

In this blog post, let’s take a look at some recent optimization strategies the OpenSauced pizza micro-service recently underwent. This backend service is a Go server that processes git commits by request, sometimes processing thousands of commits in one single request. You can almost think of it as a real time batch processor that can be called by arbitrary clients to fetch and process git commits within an agnostic git repo.

These commits eventually are all indexed within a Postgres database. Most of these optimizations revolve around “batching” the Postgres calls instead of going one by one. For simplicity in our examples, we’ll be using an arbitrary table called “my_table” with data that fits into the “my_data” column. Let’s dive in and take a look at how we can optimize!

Caching Git Repos: A Deep Dive into OpenSauced's 'Pizza Oven' Service

· 9 min read
John McBride
Sr Software Engineer | AI Engineer

Over the last few weeks, the OpenSauced engineering team has been building a service we're calling the “pizza oven.” This service indexes commits within bespoke git repositories and can be used to generate insights based on those commits. This all gives us the ability to create interesting metrics around open source project velocity, “time to merge”, the who’s who of contributors, and more; all by indexing and parsing the git commits! We’ve been experimenting with many different models and have created an interesting solution for increased performance and availability of the service.

Fueling Innovation and Collaborative Storytelling

· 4 min read
Bekah Hawrot Weigel
Developer Experience Lead

A couple of years ago, I got to see Neil Gaiman--the English author, creator, and creative genius--live. To say the experience was inspirational would be an understatement. There's something moving about hearing a person share their stories, listening to them read though. There's deeper meaning when you can see their expressions, the ways they move on the stage. You come out of the experience inspired to pursue the things you're passionate about. And it reminded me about an interview he gave a couple of years ago about his experience speaking about science fiction at the first-ever, state-sponsored science fiction convention.