GitHub Actions Workflow: How to Create and Use Configuration Variables

GitHub Actions Workflow: How to Create and Use Configuration Variables

GitHub Actions, the robust CI/CD (Continuous Integration and Continuous Deployment) system from GitHub, continues to evolve with new features and capabilities. Recently, GitHub has introduced support for configuration variables within workflows. This guide will walk you through the process of creating and using configuration variables in GitHub Actions workflows.

Understanding GitHub Actions Workflow

GitHub Actions allow developers to automate, customize, and execute software development workflows within GitHub repositories. This powerful tool responds to various repository events like pushing code, creating pull requests, or any other event type in GitHub. However, to best understand how to leverage configuration variables, it’s essential to understand what they are and why they are important.

Configuration Variables: An Overview

Introduced in early 2023, configuration variables in GitHub Actions provide a robust way to manage your workflow configurations. These configuration variables help in defining values that control the behavior of your workflows, making them more dynamic and adaptable to different scenarios.

One of the biggest advantages of using configuration variables is that they allow you to update your workflow behavior without modifying the workflow file directly, thus making workflow management more flexible and efficient.

Creating Configuration Variables

Creating configuration variables in GitHub Actions workflows is straightforward. The variables are defined at the level of the repository, and they apply to all the workflows within that repository. Here’s how you can define them:

  1. Navigate to the main page of your GitHub repository.
  2. Click on ‘Settings’ at the top of the page.
  3. In the left sidebar, click on ‘Actions’.
  4. Under ‘Actions’, click on ‘Configuration variables’.
  5. Click on the ‘New Configuration Variable’ button.
  6. Input the name and value of your configuration variable and click ‘Add Configuration Variable’.

Your configuration variable is now created and ready to be used in any workflow in your repository.

Using Configuration Variables

Once your configuration variables are set up, you can use them in your workflows. GitHub Actions will replace the variables with their associated values at runtime. The syntax for accessing configuration variables in a workflow file is as follows:

In the above example, VAR_NAME is the name of your configuration variable.


With the introduction of configuration variables, GitHub Actions has become an even more powerful tool for automating software development workflows. These variables provide an efficient way to manage and control workflow behavior dynamically, without the need to directly modify the workflow file. As you continue to leverage GitHub Actions, the use of configuration variables will undoubtedly be a significant enhancement to your CI/CD pipeline.