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The new things arriving in Declarative Pipeline!

Andrew Bayer
April 9, 2018

Last week we released the latest version of Declarative Pipelines, version 1.2.8. With that out, we thought now would be a good time to introduce you to the new features and options that have been added to Declarative since the beginning of 2018. These are all available now in the Update Center, with version 1.2.8.

Accessing the new Declarative Directive Generator

Declarative Directive Generator

This is something we’re really happy about - if you go to the "Pipeline Syntax" link from your Pipeline’s page in Jenkins, you’ll see a couple new links on the left, including "Declarative Directive Generator". The Directive Generator is much like the Snippet Generator that’s been in Pipeline for a couple years now, but where the Snippet Generator is just for filling out a form for a step and generating the Pipeline code that configuration maps to, the Directive Generator is built to help you write your Declarative Pipeline directives, like agent, options, stage, and more!

This is the first release to include the Directive Generator, and it’s definitely going to see more polish going forward, but we think it should be quite helpful for you already. We’ll be putting up another blog post looking at the Directive Generator in more detail in the near future.

New when conditions

We’ve added a number of new when conditions, providing you more control over whether your stages get executed.

  • equals - Compares two values - strings, variables, numbers, booleans - and returns true if they’re equal. I’m honestly not sure how we missed adding this earlier! You can do "not equals" comparisons using the not { equals …​ } combination too.

  • changeRequest - In its simplest form, this will return true if this Pipeline is building a change request, such as a GitHub pull request. You can also do more detailed checks against the change request, allowing you to ask "is this a change request against the master branch?" and much more.

  • buildingTag - A simple condition that just checks if the Pipeline is running against a tag in SCM, rather than a branch or a specific commit reference.

  • tag - A more detailed equivalent of buildingTag, allowing you to check against the tag name itself.

In addition, we’ve added a new option to when: beforeAgent. This allows you to specify that the when conditions should be evaluated before entering the agent for the stage, rather than the normal behavior of evaluating when conditions after entering the agent. When beforeAgent true is specified, you will not have access to the agent’s workspace, but you can avoid unnecessary SCM checkouts and waiting for a valid `agent to be available. This can speed up your Pipeline’s execution in some cases.

Using the new Declarative Directive Generator

New post conditions

The changed condition has always been a bit confusing, and to be honest, it wasn’t our best work. changed will fire any time the current run’s status is different than the previous run’s status - whether the current run is healthier than the previous one, or the other way around. That’s…​not actually very useful. So now we’ve added two new post conditions that should provide you with a lot more value than changed has.

  • fixed - This will check to see if the current run is successful, and if the previous run was either failed or unstable.

  • regression - This will check to see if the current run’s status is worse than the previous run’s status. So if the previous run was successful, and the current run is unstable, this will fire and its block of steps will execute. It will also run if the previous run was unstable, and the current run is a failure, etc.

New options

The options directive in Declarative can contain a number of different kinds of configuration: traditional Jenkins job properties, like buildDiscarder, wrapper steps to execute the entire Pipeline within, like timeout, and Declarative-specific options that can switch from some default behaviors of Declarative execution. We’ve added two new Declarative-specific options in the last few releases.

  • checkoutToSubdirectory - Allows you to override the location that the automatic SCM checkout will use. Using checkoutToSubdirectory("foo"), your Pipeline will checkout your repository to "$WORKSPACE/foo", rather than the default of "$WORKSPACE".

  • newContainerPerStage - If you’re using a top-level docker or dockerfile agent, and want to ensure that each of your stages run in a fresh container of the same image, you can use this option. Any stage without its own agent specified will run in a new container using the image you’ve specified or built, on the same computer and with access to the same workspace.

Stage options

Sometimes, you may only want to disable automatic checkout of your repository, using the skipDefaultCheckout(true) option, for one specific stage in your Pipeline. Or perhaps you want to have a timeout that covers an entire stage, including time spent waiting for a valid agent, post condition execution, or the new input directive for stages (see further down for more details on that!). To make those things possible, we’ve added a new options direction to stage. You can use a subset of the top-level options content in a stage’s `options - wrapper steps, and Declarative-specific options that are marked as legal in a stage.


You’ve always been able to run the input step inside a stage’s `steps block, but we’ve found that approach can lose out on some of the value that the input step provides.

To help with that, we’ve added a new input directive to stage, with the same parameters as the input step. When you use the stage input directive rather than using the step directly, any parameters you’ve specified for the input will be made available in the stage’s environment, meaning you can reference parameters from the `input in when conditions, or in environment variables.

Jenkinsfile (Declarative Pipeline)
pipeline {
    agent none
    stages {
        stage('Example') {
            input {
                message "Should we continue?"
                ok "Yes, we should."
                submitter "alice,bob"
                parameters {
                    string(name: 'PERSON', defaultValue: 'Mr Jenkins', description: 'Who should I say hello to?')
            agent any
            steps {
                echo "Hello, ${PERSON}, nice to meet you."

Also, the input directive is evaluated before you enter any agent specified on this stage, so if you are using a top-level agent none and each stage has its own agent specified, you can avoid consuming an executor while waiting for the input to be submitted.

Lastly, you can use timeout in the stage options, as mentioned above, to time-out the input if too much time has passed without a response.

I hope you find these new features and options for Declarative Pipelines helpful, and I look forward to the rest of 2018 as we continue to invest and improve in Jenkins Pipeline!

About the author

Andrew Bayer

Andrew was a core committer to Hudson and the author of numerous plugins.