Setting environment variables per branch in Gitlab CI or “a poor man’s dotenv”

Phillip Kessels
May 15, 2019 · 1 min read

Often times a different set of environment variables is needed when executing jobs in Gitlab CI depending on the branch we are on. The following is a real life example for the website of our shift scheduling software at

We build our website with Hugo and deploy it to different subdomains. From our develop branch we want to deploy to staging and from master we want to deploy to production.

In the past we scattered some test commands around our deploy script, however when our build stage required one of the environment variables as well we decided for a more concise way.

# .gitlab-ci.yml
- source .${CI_COMMIT_REF_NAME}.env
# ...

We simply source environment variables from the .develop.env and .master.env files.

# .master.env
export DOMAIN=''
export FTP_DIR='staging'
export FTP_HOST=''


  • a single source of truth makes it easy for developers to add new and find existing configuration
# .master.env


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