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More Github CLI Tips

·729 words·4 mins
Gh Cli

Last year, I started working in a number of public Github repositories, and learned to use the gh Github CLI. I wrote an article about using the github cli with multiple repos, but given how much my workflow has changed, I think its time for an update.

Picking a random teammate

Sometimes, I need to pick a human to be responsible for something (usually a PR review). When there is no obvious choice (for example, someone who already knows the context of the PR), I caught myself relying on the same team members repeatedly. While this is not a big issue, I wanted a more “fair” way to pick a random assignee.

To do that, I first needed a quick way to list the members in a github team. Teams are typically referred to with a @my-org-name/my-team-name syntax - but the API call to list team members needs the individual parts, rather than the whole string. Bash string manipulation to the rescue! The following alias uses the %% and ## operators to remove the substring from the back or front of a string, respectively. This allows us to get either the org name or team name from the full string. We also use jq to print just the login of each member.

The alias should be added to the aliases section of your gh config file. On linux machines, that is ~/.config/gh/config.yml

    members: >
      ! gh api orgs/${1%%/*}/teams/${1##*/}/members |
        jq -r ".[].login"

With this alias, I can run gh members my-org/my-team | shuf -n 1 to pick a random member of this team.

Coping with long-running status checks

Some PRs run exhaustive tests as PR Checks, and these can take a while. As either an author or reviewer, I want to know when the Checks are done, so I can properly review the change.

To achieve this, I use the following gh alias:

   # pop up a notification when the checks are complete for a given PR.
    lmk: >
      ! ( gh pr checks $1 --watch > /dev/null ;
          notify-send "GH PR Checks done" \
            $(gh pr view $1 --json  url --jq ".url")
        ) &

For the Mac users, you’ll need to replace the notify-send command with something like the following, after installing terminal-notifier:

terminal-notifier -title "PR Ready: $1" -message "PR checks done" \
  -contentImage \
  -open $(gh pr view $1 --json  url --jq ".url")

In either case, this will produce a little desktop notification when the PR checks are completed. To use, just give it a PR number, branch, or full URL (just like with gh pr view).

Maintainer / Reviewer SLOs

One of the responsibilities of a repository maintainer (or reviewer) is ensuring contributors get timely follow-up on their contributions. I have a few different reviewer roles, and each of them has different review expectations. To help me keep them straight, I’ve written a small gh extension:



In brief, the extension allows me to search open PRs, and sorts them with the oldest ones first, highlighting any that are older than a specified age. Most of this can be done without an extension command, but I wanted to also include status indicators for Status Checks, Review status, and Mergeability. Github provides this information through the API, and the tool just wraps them up in convenient output.

With this tool, I can now define aliases for reviews assigned to me, and also for each of my reviewer and maintainer roles.

  • Reviews I’m actively involved in: gh slocheck -s "involves:@me is:open review:required" --limit 20
  • Reviews where I’m explicitly requested: gh slocheck -s "user-review-requested:@me is:open"
  • Reviews that are looking for a Golang-samples reviewer: gh slocheck -s "team-review-requested:googlecloudplatform/go-samples-reviewers is:open draft:false status:success" --limit 20 -w 36h
    • This explicitly checks that the PR is ready for review, with passing status checks, and non-draft status. It also has a shorter warning period than the rest, since this repo has more strict review expectations.

I like to prefix all these aliases with slo:, so I can see everything that needs my input with a few short commands.


This gives me a full view of my github review responsibilities with a few short commands, and helps me stay on top of PRs that need my attention.

Moving to a gh-extension simplifies my aliases considerably, and gives me more flexibility in the output format and sort order.