fastlane (yes, spelled in all lowercase and italics, according to their branding guidelines) is a toolchain that automates your mobile apps' pipelines. Whether it's Android, iOS, or macOS, implemented in native, React Native, Flutter, or other mobile technologies, fastlane automates pretty much all mobile-related processes, from development to distribution.

What can you do with fastlane?

Through fastlane's toolchain, you have built-in support for several tools called "actions". With over 200 actions, it wouldn't make sense for us to list all of them here, so we picked some of the most time-saving ones:

  • gym + deliver (iOS/macOS) and gradle + supply (Android): Build and upload your apps alongside their screenshots and metadata to the App Store and Google Play. By far the most popular actions.
  • produce: Create new iOS/macOS apps on App Store Connect using CLI. This is a must-have if you work with an agency or white-label apps.
  • match: Create, maintain, and sync your certificates and profiles across your team using encrypted storage. This one is such a hero that it gets its own website.
  • spaceship: Access the App Store Connect API using Ruby. Your go-to SDK if you want to automate anything bespoke that fastlane doesn't support out-of-the-box.

You can see an exhaustive list of the actions here.

Need more? fastlane supports plugins, which are actions that anyone can implement and publish independently. There are nearly 500 community-maintained plugins, and you can find them here. For example, Emerge's fastlane plugin lets you easily integrate Emerge into your CI pipeline.

Each plugin is assigned a score based on multiple factors. The score helps with action discoverability and determining reliability.

Screenshot of a plugin score on fastlane

Why do developers use fastlane?

fastlane's primary purpose is saving developers time. According to their website, they've saved over 38 million developer hours as of the time of writing:

Graphic of "developer hours saved" on the fastlane website

Its toolchain saves time by automating repetitive tasks that you would otherwise execute manually (such as running tests, taking screenshots for the App Store, renewing certificates, and creating multiple new apps) and by automating tasks that your CI can execute.

Setting up your pipelines with fastlane can take some time if you're not familiar, but you quickly earn back those hours. There's dedicated documentation for integrating with nearly every CI pipeline, like GitHub Actions, Bitrise, CircleCI, GitLab CI, Jenkins, Travis, etc. The learning curve and setup steps are pretty smooth and should get you up and running quickly.

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