How to Automate the Release Process Using Templates

This guide will walk you through the steps to automate the release process of your software package using GitLab CI/CD templates. The artefact names and versions are following the SKAO naming conventions. You can read more about them here. Note that this requires a SKAO login but generally the artefact names are in the format of ska-<package-name> and the versions are following Semantic Versioning like <major>.<minor>.<patch>.


  • You have a GitLab account and a project repository where your software package is hosted.

  • You have setup the ska-cicd-makefile as a submodule in your project. If not, add it as a submodule to your project using the following command: git submodule add .make. If you are working with an existing repository make sure the submodule is checked out using the following command: git submodule update –init


  1. Include the Release Makefile in Your Repo Makefile

    Open your Makefile file and include the release support from the ska-cicd-makefile repository at the top of the file.

    -include .make/

This will add supporting scripts for changelog generation using git-chglog and GitLab release pages. A Jira ticket is added to the release notes to enable other teams to refer to the documentation related to process and implementation of git-changelog.

  1. Include the Release Template in Your GitLab CI/CD Configuration

    Open your .gitlab-ci.yml file and include the release template from the templates-repository project towards the ends of the file(preferably at the end):

      - project: 'ska-telescope/templates-repository'
        file : 'gitlab-ci/includes/release.gitlab-ci.yml'

    This will add changelog generation and release note publishing mechanism (to #artefact-releases slack channel and as a Gitlab Release) support into the project.

  2. Customize the Release Process (Optional)

    Developers are strongly encouraged to use the default template to ensure that similar practices are followed in all SKA repositories, but if any departures from standard procedures are required the process can be customized. You can learn about the variables and how to override them by running make help release or make long-help release.

  3. Commit and Push Your Changes

    Commit your changes to the .gitlab-ci.yml and Makefile files and push them to your GitLab repository.

  4. Trigger the Release Process

    The release process is now automated and will be triggered whenever a new tag is pushed to the repository. You can create and push a new major, minor or patch version using the following below steps.

How to add the CHANGELOG

The changelog is a file that contains a curated, chronologically ordered list of notable changes for each version of a project. It is a way to communicate the significant changes that have been made to the software package. The changelog is automatically generated by the pipeline using the git-chglog tool for the GitLab Releases while allowing customisation. The changelog is generated based on the commit messages in the repository and the file in the repository.

  1. Add the file to repository

    Create a new file named in the root of your project repository. This file will contain the changelog for your project.

  2. Create a symlink to the `` file in the `docs/src/` folder of your project repository. This will allow the Read the Docs to include the changelog in the documentation.. Make sure to use the correct path for your documentation and file.

    cd docs/src
    ln -s ../../ docs/CHANGELOG.rst
  3. Update your index file in the `docs/src/` folder to include the changelog in the documentation.

    Open the docs/index.rst file and add the following line to include the changelog in the documentation:

    .. toctree::
    :maxdepth: 1
    :caption: Releases
  4. Add the required dependencies to build markdown files

recommonmark package is needed to build our markdown files.

poetry add recommonmark --group docs

Update the file to include recommonmark as an extension and make sure .md files are included as source file suffix.

extensions = [
source_suffix = ['.rst', '.md']
  1. Commit and push the changes to the repository

Now, everytime a release happens the changelog will be updated with the new release notes that will be pulled from the file. One example can be seen in this repository: with associated RTD documentation here.

For further customisation of the changelog, please refer to the make help release or make long-help release targets in the Pipeline Machinery repository. This enables the combined use of automatic and manual methods for changelog generation.

How to Make a Release

This guide provides practical steps on how to make a patch release using the provided Makefile. For making major or minor version, the equiavelent commands should be used.

  1. Create a JIRA issue and the branch

    1st: Create a new issue on the Release Management Jira Project with a summary of your release, and set it to “IN PROGRESS”.

    2nd: Create and checkout a new rel-XXX-release-v-1-2-2 branch (where REL-XXX is your Jira issue.)

  2. Check the Current Version

    Before making a patch release, you should check the current version of your project. You can do this by running the following command:

    make show-version

    This command will display the current version of your project.

  3. Bump the Version

    Choose which bump version you want to use:

    • bump-major-release

    • bump-minor-release

    • bump-patch-release

    Run for example make bump-patch-release, if for example .release was 1.2.1 it will be moved to 1.2.2. To increment the patch level of your project’s version, you can use the bump-patch-release target. Run the following command:

    make bump-patch-release

    This command will increment the patch level of the current version and update the .release file.

  4. Set the Release

    To set the version for different kind of artefacts, run make set-release target. This command will update the different versions of artefact types with an interactive prompt for you to follow.

  • If you have helm charts on your project it will automatically run make helm-set-release which will set all charts to - following the example - version 1.2.2, as well as update the version on the charts’ dependencies

  • If you have python packages on your project it will automatically run make python-set-release. This will set pyproject.toml to - following the example - version 1.2.2;

  • The release variable in your docs/ will also be automatically updated according to the version in .release, confirm if this is the correct version for the documentation;

Make any other manual changes that are necessary to bump the version. For example:

  • Updating your python package’s __version__ attribute;

  • Updating python tests that check the version;

  • Manually updating a human-readable CHANGELOG file.

  1. Create a Git Tag

    After bumping the patch version, you should create a git tag for the new version. By this point you’ll also require a JIRA ticket to link your release. The following target will ask you for the ticket as a prompt. This can be skipped by setting AUTO_RELEASE variable.

    make create-git-tag

    This command will create a git tag for the new version.

  2. Push the Git Tag

    Finally, you should push the new git tag to your remote repository. You can do this by running the following command:

    make push-git-tag

    This command will push the new git tag to your remote repository triggering the release process.

    Note: This final step will push the release tag direct to the main branch, so this step can only be performed by a repository maintainer. It is possible, instead, to push the tag onto your branch immediately before it is merged. In this case, it is very important that the tag is pushed to the branch only after the MR has been approved and no further commits will be made to it.

That’s it! You have successfully made a patch release for your project. Your release process is now automated. Whenever a new tag is pushed to the repository, the release process will be triggered, and the release notes will be generated and published automatically.

Release results

After the tagged pipeline finishes, the new release generated with the git-chglog will be appended to the tag in the gitlab project, an example of the release notes can be seen here. And the Jira ticket (preferable one created on the Release Management Jira Project) that is present on the commit message that triggered the tag pipeline will be updated with links to the gitlab release page.