How to Build a Dynamic GitHub Profile with GitHub Actions and PHP by@osteel

How to Build a Dynamic GitHub Profile with GitHub Actions and PHP

How to Build a Dynamic GitHub Profile with GitHub Actions and PHP is simple. GitHub Actions are a recent addition to GitHub, allowing developers to automate various CI/CD tasks, like running test suites or deploying web services. I used a simple PHP script and Composer to create a profile README for my GitHub profile. I then added a placeholder in the README file where the dynamic content will go. The placeholder is then replaced with the new one, using the GitHub action function. My GitHub profile is now automatically updated every time I publish a new article.
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Yannick Chenot Hacker Noon profile picture

Yannick Chenot

Senior backend developer

Last year, GitHub quietly released a feature that was quickly noticed by the community – profile READMEs. A profile README is a global

README
file for your GitHub profile, which you can set up by creating a public repository whose name is identical to your GitHub username. For instance, as my username is
osteel
, I created the
osteel/osteel
repository.

A little box like this one should appear while you add your own:

image

Once the repository is created, add a

README
file with a short description explaining how great you are, and your GitHub profile page will display its content by default:

image

Neat and simple.

As I was browsing examples for some inspiration, I stumbled upon Simon Willison's version, which features some dynamic content like recent work and blog publications. He explained how he used a combination of GitHub Actions and Python to achieve this in a blog post, and I decided to do something similar with PHP.

The placeholder

The first thing to do is to create a placeholder in the

README
file where the dynamic content will go. Since I wanted to automatically insert the latest publications of my blog, I used the following tags:

<!-- posts --><!-- /posts -->

You might recognise this format; since Markdown files also support HTML, I used some HTML comment tags to make sure they wouldn't show up on my profile page.

The PHP script

I can't remember the last time I wrote some PHP without a framework; as a result, I had to do a quick search just to get started with a basic PHP script and some Composer dependencies.

Turn out it's quite simple! The first step is to initialise the project with the following command:

$ composer init

From there, I installed a lightweight library to parse my blog's RSS feed:

$ composer require dg/rss-php

I then added a

posts.php
file at the root of the project, with the following content:

Nothing too complicated here – Composer's autoload is required at the top, allowing me to load the RSS parser to generate a list of blog posts as a string, in Markdown format.

The existing content of the

README
file is then loaded into the
$content
variable, and the Markdown string is inserted between its
<!-- posts -->
and
<!-- /posts -->
tags with
preg_replace
.

Finally, the file's entire content is replaced with the new one, using the

file_put_contents
function.

The GitHub action

GitHub Actions are a fairly recent addition to GitHub, allowing developers to automate various CI/CD tasks, like running test suites or deploying web services.

They must be defined using YAML format in a

.github/workflows
folder at the root of the project, and contain a list of steps that they are to execute.

Here's mine, which I named

posts.yml
:

Again, nothing too complicated. We first give the action a name, and then define a list of events that should trigger it – pushing some code to the repository, a manual trigger from the interface (

workflow_dispatch
), or periodically like a cron job (here, every day at midnight).

We then indicate that the action should run on an Ubuntu image, where it will:

That's it! My GitHub profile is now automatically updated every time I publish a new article.

Conclusion

This was a quick experiment aiming at exploring GitHub Actions, which I expect to use more and more in the future. It was also fun to use PHP as a simple scripting language again, in a procedural way.

I've voluntarily left out a few things in order to keep this article short and simple – please refer to the repository for implementation details.

This story was originally published on tech.osteel.me.

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