GitLab to Google Data Studio

This page provides you with instructions on how to extract data from GitLab and analyze it in Google Data Studio. (If the mechanics of extracting data from GitLab seem too complex or difficult to maintain, check out Stitch, which can do all the heavy lifting for you in just a few clicks.)

What is GitLab?

GitLab offers a web-based Git repository manager with version control and issue tracking features.

Getting data out of GitLab

GitLab provides a REST API, but it says, "Going forward, we will start on moving to GraphQL and deprecate the use of controller-specific endpoints."

Most of the items stored in GitLab are accessible through the API. Dozens of items are on the list, including merge requests, project milestones, and todos. As an example, to get a list of repository branches for a particular project, you could call GET /projects/[id]/repository/branches.

Sample GitLab data

GitLab returns information in JSON format. Each JSON object may contain more than a dozen attributes, which you have to parse before loading the data into your data warehouse. Stitch provides documentation on some of the GitLab table schemas. Here's an example of what some of the data for that call to return all tickets might look like:

[
  {
    "name": "master",
    "merged": false,
    "protected": true,
    "developers_can_push": false,
    "developers_can_merge": false,
    "commit": {
      "author_email": "john@example.com",
      "author_name": "John Smith",
      "authored_date": "2012-06-27T05:51:39-07:00",
      "committed_date": "2012-06-28T03:44:20-07:00",
      "committer_email": "john@example.com",
      "committer_name": "John Smith",
      "id": "7b5c3cc8be40ee161ae89a06bba6229da1032a0c",
      "short_id": "7b5c3cc",
      "title": "add projects API",
      "message": "add projects API",
      "parent_ids": [
        "4ad91d3c1144c406e50c7b33bae684bd6837faf8"
      ]
    }
  },
  ...
]

Preparing GitLab data

If you don't already have a data structure in which to store the data you retrieve, you'll have to create a schema for your data tables. Then, for each value in the response, you'll need to identify a predefined datatype (INTEGER, DATETIME, etc.) and build a table that can receive them. GitLab's documentation should tell you what fields are provided by each endpoint, along with their corresponding datatypes.

Complicating things is the fact that the records retrieved from the source may not always be "flat" – some of the objects may actually be lists. This means you'll likely have to create additional tables to capture the unpredictable cardinality in each record.

Keeping GitLab data up to date

At this point you've coded up a script or written a program to get the data you want and successfully moved it into your data warehouse. But how will you load new or updated data? It's not a good idea to replicate all of your data each time you have updated records. That process would be painfully slow and resource-intensive.

Instead, identify key fields that your script can use to bookmark its progression through the data and use to pick up where it left off as it looks for updated data. Auto-incrementing fields such as updated_at or created_at work best for this. When you've built in this functionality, you can set up your script as a cron job or continuous loop to get new data as it appears in GitLab.

And remember, as with any code, once you write it, you have to maintain it. If GitLab modifies its API, or the API sends a field with a datatype your code doesn't recognize, you may have to modify the script. If your users want slightly different information, you definitely will have to. If GitLab makes the REST API obsolete and moves ahead solely with GraphQL, you may have to start from scratch.

From GitLab to your data warehouse: An easier solution

As mentioned earlier, the best practice for analyzing GitLab data in Google Data Studio is to store that data inside a data warehousing platform alongside data from your other databases and third-party sources. You can find instructions for doing these extractions for leading warehouses on our sister sites GitLab to Redshift, GitLab to BigQuery, and GitLab to Snowflake.

Easier yet, however, is using a solution that does all that work for you. Products like Stitch were built to solve this problem automatically. With just a few clicks, Stitch starts extracting your GitLab data via the API, structuring it in a way that is optimized for analysis, and inserting that data into a data warehouse that can be easily accessed and analyzed by Google Data Studio.