Programmatically Trigger Travis Builds on GitHub

Our code for this specific project (which is on GitHub) is designed to handle infrastructure creation and rebuilds. For this purpose, we wanted to to be able to trigger our Travis builds for specific branches via simple Bash scripts, based on meeting certain conditions.

Here we look at logging into Travis using GitHub a token and then using this login to generate a Travis authorization token – a token which allows us to run API calls against Travis’ REST API.

First, we begin by creating a new GitHub token – this is a one time activity. At the end of creating this token, we’ll end up with bare-minimum scopes to trigger Travis builds.

To do this, you click on your profile on the GitHub page and click “Settings”. Here, in the “Developer Settings” heading, head to “Personal access tokens” and hit “Generate new token”. Select the following scopes:


Check the “public_repo” box if yours is a public Git repository. Hit “Generate Token”.

You’ll now be able to copy the token. I’ve snipped the code below, but you’ll see a long 82-character token string.


No more GUI. From here on, we can use this Github token to get our work done all via command line.

In your script, you’ll login to Travis this way (make sure the machine running the script has Travis package installed):

/usr/local/bin/travis login --pro --github-token <snipped> --skip-completion-check

The “–skip-completion-check” flag is required to ensure non-interactive CLI access when using Travis.

Next, get a Travis authorization token by doing this:

token=$(/usr/local/bin/travis token --pro --skip-completion-check | cut -f5)

Now, set the following string as the body for the upcoming API call. $branch will be the branch of your project on which you want to trigger the build:

body='{ "request": { "branch":"'${branch}'" }}'

Next, go ahead and make the actual API call to trigger a Travis build using the last known successful build:

curl -so /dev/null -X POST -w "%{http_code}" \
-H "Content-Type: application/json" \
-H "Accept: application/json" \
-H "Travis-API-Version: 3" \
-H "Authorization: token $token" \
-d "$body"

The -so /dev/null -X POST -w “%{http_code}” portion is specific to our case where we only want the HTTP response code and nothing else. Our script then takes further decisions based on the output of the CURL call.

Well, that’s it! If you have any questions, please drop them in as comments.

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