CI Dream

This is more of an android dream (that one with a unicorn) than a coherent post, but please indulge me. Its a short one at least!

Several years ago, it made sense for things like Travis CI or GitHub Actions to exist as technical products as well as businesses. Back in the day, maintaining a fleet of machines was hard. So you could take that shepherd job onto yourself, and provide your users and customers with an API to run their tests.

Is it true today though? I am not well-versed in cloud things, but my impression is that today one can rent machines as a commodity. Cloud providers give you a distributed computer which you pay for as you go.

In this world, CI as a SaaS feels like accidental complexity of midlayer mistake variety. Can we make it simpler? Can we say that CI is just a program for a distributed computer? So, in your projects repo, theres a ./ci folder with a such program a bunch of Docker files, or .yamls, or whatever is the programming language of the cloud. You then point, say, AWS to it, tell it run this, here are my credentials, and you get your entire CI infra, with not rocket science rule, continuous fuzzing, releases, and what not. And, crucially, whatever project specific logic you need AWS doesnt care what it runs, everything is under your control.

Of course, theres a hefty amount of logic required interacting with your forge webhooks, UI through @magic comments and maybe a web server with an HTML GUI, the management of storage to ensure that cross-build caches stay close, the management of compute and idempotence, to allow running on cheap spot instances, and perhaps a thousands of other CI concerns.

But it feels like all that could conceivably be a library (an ecosystem of competing projects even)?

If I want to have a merge queue, why are these my choices?:

Why this isnt the world we live in?:

$ cd ci
$ cargo add protection-agency

Update(2024-01-01): If you like this post, please also read

Although that post contains much fewer references to Philip K. Dick, it is much better in every other respect.