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Release Process

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Project Stages

This project has three parallels stages of release:

Name Description
unstable The tip or HEAD of the main branch is referred to as unstable
staged A commit tagged with the suffix -rc\d+ such as v0.3.1-rc2 is a staged release. These are release candidates.
stable A commit tagged with a version sans -rc\d+ suffix such as v0.3.1 is a stable release.

There are no steps necessary to create an unstable release as that happens automatically whenever an untagged commit is pushed to main. However, the following workflow should be used when tagging a staged release candidate or stable release.

  1. Review outstanding issues & pull requests
  2. Prepare release notes
  3. Commit & pull request
  4. Tag the release

Review Issues & Pull Requests

The first step to a release is to review the outstanding issues and pull requests that are tagged for the release in question.

If there are outstanding issues requiring changes or pending pull requests to be merged, handle those prior to tagging any commit as a release candidate or release.

It is highly recommended that pull requests be merged synchronously after rebasing each subsequent one off of the new tip of main. Remember, while GitHub will update a pull request as in conflict if a change to main results in a merge conflict with the pull request, GitHub will not force a new build to spawn unless the pull request is actually updated.

At the very minimum a pull request's build should be re-executed prior to the pull request being merged if main has changed since the pull request was opened.

Prepare Release Notes

Update the release notes at .docs/about/ This file is the project's authoritative changelog and should reflect new features, fixes, and any significant changes.

The most recent, stable version of the release notes are always available online at VM Operator's documentation site.

Commit & Pull Request

Once all outstanding issues and pull requests are handled, the release notes are updated, it's time to create a commit.

Please make sure that the changes to the release notes and version files are a part of the same commit. This makes identifying the aspects of a release, staged or otherwise, far easier for future developers.

A release's commit message can either be a reflection of the release notes or something simple. Either way the commit message should have the following subject format and first line in its body:

Release Candidate 0.3.1-rc1

This patch marks release candidate 0.3.1-rc1.

If the commit message is longer it should simply reflect the same information from the release notes.

Once committed push the change to a fork and open a pull request. Even though this commit marks a staged or official release, the pull request system is still used to assure that the build completes successfully and there are no unforeseen errors.

Tag the Release

Once the pull request marking the staged or stable release has been merged into upstream's main it's time to tag the release.

Tag Format

The release tag should follow a prescribed format depending upon the release type:

Release Type Tag Format Example
staged vMAJOR.MINOR.PATCH-rc[0-9] v0.3.1-rc1
stable vMAJOR.MINOR.PATCH v0.3.1

Tag Methods

There are two ways to tag a release:

  1. GitHub Releases
  2. Command Line

Command Line

If tagging a release via the command line be sure to fetch the latest changes from upstream's main and either merge them into your local copy of main or reset the local copy to reflect upstream prior to creating any tags.

The following combination of commands can be used to create a tag for 0.3.1 Release Candidate 1:

git fetch upstream && \
  git checkout main && \
  git reset --hard upstream/main && \
  git tag -a -m v0.3.1-rc1 v0.3.1-rc1

The above example combines a few operations:

  1. The first command fetches the upstream changes
  2. The local main branch is checked out
  3. The local main branch is hard reset to upstream/main
  4. An annotated tag is created on main for v0.3.1-rc1, or 0.3.1 Release Candidate 1, with a tag message of v0.3.1-rc1.

Please note that the third step will erase any changes that exist only in the local main branch that do not also exist in the remote, upstream copy. However, if the two branches are not equal this method should not be used to create a tag anyway.

The above steps do not actually push the tag upstream. This is to allow for one final review of all the changes before doing so since the appearance of a new, annotated tag in the repository will cause the project's build system to automatically kick off a build that will result in the release of a staged or stable release. For stable releases the project's documentation will also be updated.

Once positive everything looks good simply execute the following command to push the tag to the upstream repository:

git push upstream v0.3.1-rc1