The openATTIC release process

Recently, I was responsible for the release of openATTIC 3.5.1 and found myself in the position of being the so called "Release Captain". In the following blog post I'm going to explain the release process and the meaning of the openATTIC Release Captain.

We release a new version of openATTIC every few weeks. To keep the quality of the released version as high as possible and to make sure that the user doesn’t run into obvious issues, the release process needs to be well structured and repeatable.

Therefore, someone of our team becomes the Release Captain for the release. He or she is responsible for the whole release process, organizes it, makes decisions and cares about keeping deadlines. By rotating the Release Captain position through the team we assure that everyone of us knows the release process and is able to ship a new version of openATTIC.

An openATTIC release is usually structured into three different steps:

  1. Release preparations

    The first step of the release process is mainly focused on the preparation. Which means that the Release Captain decides together with the rest of the team which issues should go into the release. After that he or she sets a merge deadline and plans time for testing. This step also includes installation tests and manual GUI tests.

    The rest of the openATTIC team can support the Release Captain during this step by:

    • Creating pull requests as early as possible so that others have enough time for reviewing and testing them.

    • Keeping pull requests up to date. It doesn’t make any sense to test pull requests that are based on an outdated code base.

      You can easily keep your fork in sync with the openATTIC repository by using "git rebase". I assume you've configured two remote repositories "upstream" and "origin" as you can see in the following example of the openATTIC blog repository:

      $ git remote -v
        origin<user>/openatticblog.git (fetch)
        origin<user>/openatticblog.git (push)
        upstream (fetch)
        upstream (push)

      "upstream" means the official openATTIC blog repository and "origin" is your own fork. If you want to update your branch "new-post" with the current state of the openATTIC blog "master" branch follow these steps:

      Get the latest changes from the "upstream" repository:

      $ git fetch upstream

      Switch to your "new-post" branch:

      $ git checkout new-post

      Update your "new-post" branch with the latest changes from the "upstream" repository:

      $ git rebase upstream/master

      Push the update to your remote fork:

      $ git push origin new-post -f

      Note: Be really really careful with using the "-f" option of the "git push" command and make sure that it's only used for pushing changes to your own repository fork. The "-f" option means force and might rewrite the history of the repository.

    • Merging pull requests as soon as possible. If a pull request is reviewed and tested one should merge them (unless there are no other dependencies you have to wait for – e.g. other pull requests to be merged). It prevents the pull request from being outdated and speeds up the release process.

    • Keeping Jira up to date.

    • Not adding any new issues to the current release version after the merge deadline. The only exception: release blockers are still allowed to be added to the version after reaching the merge deadline. Nevertheless talk to the Release Captain before adding any new issues, please. Release blockers in general are:

      • Failures in the installation process itself.
      • Failures which will result in openATTIC not being usable at all.
  2. The release build

    The release itself consists of a bunch of different steps. For example building a tarball out of the stable branch or creating packages on the Open Build Service. It also updates the "version.txt" file to the next version and sets the version tag on the openATTIC repository.

  3. Post release

    After the release the Release Captain writes the announcement for the blog and the openATTIC Google Group. He also updates the openATTIC tracker. That means he finishes the current sprint (if applicable), creates the next version number (if it hasn’t been added yet) and starts the next sprint (if applicable).


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