Configuration of the HTML5-Boilerplate Git Project and GitHub Repo

This post outlines the configuration of the HTML5-Boilerplate repo as well as the basic process we use to manage the project. As Github has matured as a platform and HTML5 Boilerplate has matured as a project there are a lot of lessons to be learned from the way we run the show here.

GitHub configuration

This section will go through the way we configure the repo in GitHub. Open source projects get the full power of the platform and as a project we like to experiment with new GitHub features. Our current configuration might help you figure out some things you want to do in your own projects.

General Configuration

This section outlines the basic configuration options we use.

  • We have a stub of a Wiki still, so we have wikis turned on. The most interesting page that remains is a history of the project written several years ago.
  • We use the Issues feature heavily. We don’t yet have Issue Templates set up, but we do have adding them as an issue, so we’ll take advantage of them at some point.
  • Discussions are enabled, but they haven’t been very useful so far.

Pull Requests

The most visible portion of our configuration is the way we handle pull requests. At the most basic level, we require pull requests to add code to the repo and require a review to merge code. In addition we run several code quality checks on every pull request to make sure we’re not introducing anything we don’t want into the codebase.

We take advantage of the “draft” feature for PRs. This way we have visibility throughout the life of the PR.

Let’s take a look at how we configure our main branch.


main is the default branch and is our only protected branch. We use feature branches to add features and/or fix issues in the codebase. Other project configurations might require a long-running, similarly protected, development branch but for us the single protected main branch is enough for our purposes.

Our branch protection rules are as follows:

  • We require a pull request (PR) with one approving reviewer to merge code
  • In addition to the PR and approving reviewer, we require three status checks to pass before code can be merged
    • Build with Node 16
    • Build with Node 14
  • We allow force pushes for project admins. While force pushes can create some head scratching moments for people who have cloned the repo and update before and after the force push, the ability to clean up the HEAD of a public branch like this in an emergency is useful.

GitHub Actions and Other Checks That Run on main

  • We run a simple build status check. This is the most basic test you can run and is absolutely vital. If you can’t build your project you’re in trouble. Currently we’re testing against Node 14 and 16.
  • We take advantage of our access to CodeQL analysis Free for research and open source don’t you know 🙂 We don’t have a ton of surface area to cover, but it’s nice to have this powerful code scanning tool available to us.
  • We run a dependency review scan to see if any newly added dependencies add known security flaws. This is important for even us, but for a project that uses a larger number of third party dependencies, this sort of check is vital.
  • We push any changes to main to our HTML5-Boilerplate Template Repo

Since we’ve talked about some of our Actions, let’s look at the full configuration of our .github folder.

.github Folder

  • workflows
    • build-dist.yaml is currently broken. We can’t push to main without a code review, so this task is blocked. What I would like, (are you there, GitHub, it’s me, Rob) is to allow Actions to bypass branch protection rules. I think we’ll have to basically write a mini-bot that opens a PR whenever there are changes to main and then pushes to the same branch until the PR is closed. In some ways that will be better as it will be less noisy in terms of bot pushes to main.
    • codeql-analysis.yml controls our CodeQL action. We use the defaults. If you’re building something with more JAvaScript footprint, you can tweak the settings for this job.
    • dependency-review.yml does what it says on the tin- it tests newly introduced dependencies for vulnerabilities.
    • publish.yaml is the action that publishes all the various versions of the project. When we create a new tag and push it to GitHub, this script publishes our npm package and creates a GitHub release and attaches a zip file of our dist folder.
    • push-to-template.yaml pushes the HEAD of main to our template repo
    • spellcheck.yml automatically checks markdown files for typos with cSpell.
    • test.yaml runs our test suite.
  • is our Code of Conduct, based on Contributor Covenant.
  • contains our contribution guidelines.
  • is our new issue boilerplate.
  • is our new PR boilerplate.
  • points people to different (non-HTML5-Boilerplate) support resources
  • dependabot.ymlis our Dependabot configuration. We do npm, monthly on two separate package.json files, one in src and one in project root.

That covers most of the interesting GitHub features and functionality that we use. We’re going to continue to keep this document up to date as we change things or new GitHub features.

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