Continuous integration and delivery with travis-ci and codeship

Travis vs. Codeship

Generally speaking, continuous integration (CI) is the process of running your test suite automatically when you push code to your repo. Continuous delivery / deployment (CD) is the process of deploying the new code to your server whenever you push to specific branches in your repo. There is enough information about these on the web so I won’t cover it here. Instead, I would like to talk about travis-ci and codeship, which are: online services that help you accomplish these tasks easily; tightly integrated with github; free for open source projects; very recommended. There are many similar services, of course, but I won’t mention them as I didn’t use them enough to have an opinion. So, let’s start with travis.


AFAIK, travis is the natural CI choice for python developers, and for good reasons:

  • It’s the easiest to configure and use.
  • Configuration is kept in the git repo, using a YAML file. Therefore, it is version controlled, which is always a good thing.
  • It will run your tests against a set of python versions, each one in its own build (AKA a test matrix).

There are situations, however, in which travis might not be enough for you, especially when you want to set up continuous deployment. Enters codeship.


Codeship is clearly inferior:

  • It is configured using a web interface, using bash scripts to prepare the environment, run the tests, and deploy (with different script per branch, which is nice). Yep, you’re expected to type bash scripts into web forms!
  • The environment setup is lacking. The official recommendation for setting the python version, for example, looks like a hack.
  • You can’t define a test matrix.

It sounds bad, I know, but on the other hand codeship has one feature that is crucial to my workflow. Each project on codeship have an ssh-key. Therefore, once you copied the public key to your server authorized_keys file, codeship can ssh / scp to it without additional effort, exactly as you do from your development environment.

For example, I have static sites that use a simple script to generate the site and upload it to the server using rsync. From my development environment it looks like:

make rsync_upload

And guess what? The codeship deployment script do exactly the same when I push code to the master branch, and nothing more!

It is important to note that travis do offer this feature for paid plans, and that hacky alternatives exist.

Wrap up

Personally, for everything "deployable" I stay with codeship at the moment, as this single feature is more important to me than travis's advantages. To compensate, I document the different scripts (environment setup, test running, and deployment) in the project README. In addition, although the test matrix is a crucial feature when you work on libraries and tools, web sites and application are usually different. You control the environment you deploy to, and can set the CI environment to be the same / very similar.

Having said that, for everything else, just go with travis. You won't regret it.


  • Prefer travis-ci when developing a library / command line utility / non “deployable” software.
  • Use codeship for continuous deployment of web sites and applications.