Updating Personal Access Tokens used with Github Actions

A while back I set up a Github Action to build and deploy an app on each code commit. Since it’s good practice to set an expiry date on your Personal Access Tokens, at some point they will expire and you’ll need to update them.

In my project I reference the Access Token using a Github Secret stored in the settings for the project:

To update the expired or about to expire token:

  • create a new Personal Access Token in your account settings
  • copy the new token value, update the Secrets in your project and paste the new value


gp-pages deploy fails when run from GitHub Action: Author identity unknown

I’m calling gh-pages from a GitHub Action, and at the point when gh-pages is called by the Action, it fails with this error:

> gh-pages -d build

Author identity unknown

*** Please tell me who you are.

Following this recommendation on a similar posted issue, I updated the ‘npm run build’ script in my package.json to pass the -u option with the github-actions-bot userid:

    "deploy": "gh-pages -d build -u 'github-actions-bot <support+actions@github.com>'",

After adding this and re-running, now I have a different error:

> gh-pages -d build -u 'github-actions-bot <support+actions@github.com>'

fatal: could not read Username for 'https://github.com': No such device or address

Apparently to allow the Action to use actions/checkout to access your repo you must use a Personal Token per additional instructions here.

To create a new access token, access your account settings, then Developer Settings:

To add the token value as a secret to your project, add a new secret via settings on the repo that your Action is accessing:

After paying more attention to the Action log, the checkout step was actually working and completing as expected, it was the ‘npm run deploy’ step that was failing with same error as shown in the linked post above. Following the same advice to use the access token to resolve the ‘Could not read username’ error, I updated the ci.yml again to add the reference to the token as part of setting the remote repo url:

- name: Deploy
    MY_EMAIL: kevin.hooke@gmail.com
    MY_NAME: kevinhooke
  run: |
    git config --global user.email $MY_EMAIL
    git config --global user.name $MY_NAME
    git remote set-url origin https://$MY_NAME:${{ secrets.GH_SECRET }}@github.com/kevinhooke/my-example-project.git
    npm run deploy
  • the git config steps set the git user’s email and name properties within the context of the Github Action
  • the ‘git remote set-url’ specifies the repo url including my userid and the Personal Access Token retrieved from the GitHub Secret.

Problem solved, now the action works as expected and publishes this project’s GitHub pages on every commit!

Editing files in your GitHub repo online with Codespaces

Articles online about how to enable your GitHub projects to use Codespaces are not particularly clear about how to get started, whether you need access to the beta or not, whether it is free for personal use or whether you need to pay for a subscription.

I suspect there’s been some changes since the service launched. The easiest way to open a Codespace to edit any file in your repo is to browse to a file and drop down the edit menu and then select Open in GitHub.dev

One you open a single file, the VS Code web interface will load, allowing you to edit any file in that project.

GitHub Action running npm build fails on warnings

On a new GitHub Action I’ve added on a React project, the npm run build is failing because apparently GitHib Actions treat warnings as errors:

Treating warnings as errors because process.env.CI = true.
Most CI servers set it automatically.

Failed to compile.

Following advice on questions to this post, adding CI=false to the ‘npm run build’ script in package.json turns off this behavior:

    "predeploy": "CI=false && npm run build",