Notes for hledger release managers and maintainers.



  • Make releasing easy


  • Update/consolidate release process docs
  • Establish routine monthly release cadence
  • Make releasing easy

Release types

Major release
Bugfix release
Fixup release
Preview release
Contains:New features, breaking changesOnly bug fixesTrivial packaging fixes, no software changesEarly snapshot of the next major release
When:Third month of quarter: March, June, September, DecemberWhen neededNeverFirst & second months of quarter
Github release
Hackage release
Install page
Regression bounty
Release notes
Web manuals

hledger major releases happen in the third month of each quarter, normally at or close to the start of the month. Preview releases happen in the other months, if needed. Here's the ideal release schedule:

Jan 1: preview 1Apr 1: preview 1Jul 1: preview 1Oct 1: preview 1
Feb 1: preview 2May 1: preview 2Aug 1: preview 2Nov 1: preview 2
Mar 1: majorJun 1: majorSep 1: majorDec 1: major


Here are some definitions, useful eg when executing or automating release procedures.

General concepts
releaseA snapshot of the software and related artifacts like executable binaries, which is named, tagged, documented, announced, and usually picked up by packaging systems on various platforms.
version control system, VCSA tool used for storing and sharing and viewing the history and different lines of development of a software project, or other set of files. hledger uses Git.
repository, repoA set of files being stored and managed by a VCS. Often published on a repository hosting service, such as Github.
working copy, cloneA local copy of a repository's files. Typically each developer has one or more of these, and can share changes easily with the official public repository.
branchSome VCS's, including Git, can store multiple branching lines of development within one repository. A working copy can be quickly switched to a different branch to show its content.
master, mainThe main branch in a repo, usually named master or main. Pull requests are usually relative to this.
pull request, PRA request to merge a development branch with master, and any related discussion. On Github, these are kept alongside issues in the issue tracker.
continuous integration, CIAutomated actions that run when new code is pushed to a shared repo, such as running tests or producing binaries. On Github this is called Github Actions and action scripts are called workflows.
hledger concepts
packageA releasable unit of Haskell software. hledger has several core packages usually released together: hledger-lib, hledger, hledger-ui, hledger-web.
hledger version numberA 2-4 part dotted number naming a hledger release or hledger package version: MA.JOR[.MINOR[.FIXUP]] or MA.JOR.99[.PREVIEW] where 99 means "unreleased (MAJOR+1)". See examples below.
hledger version stringA line of text describing a hledger binary, shown by --version. It contains program name, version number, commit hash and date, machine architecture etc. Eg: hledger 1.24.1-g7799d526b-20211210, mac-x86_64
Complete, partial, mixed releasesA release of all the core hledger packages (hledger-lib, hledger, hledger-ui, hledger-web) is called complete. A release of only some of the core packages is called partial. A release where some packages have different versions (because of a previous partial release) is called mixed. Major and preview releases are always complete, bugfix and fixup releases can be partial and/or mixed.
changelogA file listing the release history and the changes in each release. There is one for each hledger package and one for the hledger project as a whole.
release notesThe Release Notes page on the hledger website: the combined release history of the core hledger packages, showing user visible changes only.
hledger release/build types
Major releaseMajor releases include new features and incompatible API changes, and normally happen at the start of each quarter's third month (3/1, 6/1, 9/1, 12/1). Example version number: 1.25
Bugfix releaseBugfix releases include only bug fixes, without API changes. These happen when needed, to fix significant bugs in the previous major release. Example version number: 1.25.2 ("second bugfix release for 1.25")
Fixup releaseFixup releases fix packaging errors, with no changes to the hledger software. These should be rare. Example version number: or ("first fixup release for 1.25 / 1.25.2")
Preview releaseA preview of the upcoming major release for testers/early adopters, and a test of the release process, published on Github. Not a formal hledger release, eg not published on Hackage, usually not packaged, no bugfix releases, no regression bounties, not shown in release notes. These typically appear in the quarter's first and second month if needed. Example version number: ("preview 1 of 1.26")
CI binariesTemporary downloadable binaries produced by a run of the linux/mac/windows workflows in the hledger repo. This may happen periodically, eg weekly. Downloading requires a Github login.
Dev buildA local developer build of unreleased code. This is typically in master or a development/PR branch. Example version number: 1.25.99 ("unreleased 1.26-dev")
hledger repos and branches
hledger repoThe hledger git repository, containing the hledger software, reference manuals, and developer docs.
site repoThe hledger_website git repository, containing most of the hledger website which appears at Usually checked out under the hledger repo as site/.
masterThe branch named master in the hledger repo; the main line of hledger development. Pull requests are usually relative to this.
release branchBranches named MA.JOR-branch in the hledger repo, eg 1.25-branch. Releases and release previews are always made from a release branch.


Release manager activities/responsibilities include:

  • Software - selecting changes, packages, release dates; coordinating contributions; ensuring release readiness
  • Branch Management - coordinating main and release branch, local and remote repos, CI branches
  • Version Bumping - choosing and applying new version numbers and related things like tags, github releases, urls, ghc and dep versions, stackage resolvers, everywhere needed
  • Docs - command help, manuals, changelogs, release notes, github release notes, install page, install scripts, announcements, process docs
  • Testing - local testing, CI testing, extra release-specific testing
  • Artifacts - generating binaries, zip files, github releases etc.
  • Publishing - uploading, pushing, making visible, finalising
  • Announcing - various announcement stages and channels

These have complex interdependencies and sequencing constraints. Chunk, separate, routinise, document and automate them as far as possible.

General tips

  • Update changelogs early and often, eg during/after a PR, to spread the work. See also CHANGELOGS.
  • Release (or practice releasing) often.
  • Follow's procedures if helpful. Update a copy ( while releasing.
  • The release process continually evolves. Don't document procedures in too much detail / prematurely.
  • Make things a little better each time through: simpler, more reliable, better documented, more automated, easier, faster, cheaper, higher quality.
  • Make releases from a release branch, not from master. Use the tools/release script.
  • Before publishing a github release: prepare binaries, release notes, announcements, and tag.
  • Before tagging: make binaries for all platforms, from the same commit.
  • Before making binaries: do all possible pre-tagging steps and try to get everything finalised. (Binaries' --version shows their git hash, and this should match the release tag.)

Releasing diagram

Here is a map of the value chain, artifacts, tasks and levels of release readiness involved in a hledger release. Arrows indicate dependencies. When making a release, activity moves from the bottom up towards the top. From this we derive the procedure docs below, and gradually automate those more over time.

value/artifacts map and dependencies in a hledger major release


These docs need update.



  • save a copy of, make updates in the copy

Check release readiness

  • appropriate timing, release manager availability
  • master's changelogs are up to date (see CHANGELOGS)
  • master or release branch is ready for release
    • clean and synced working copy
    • no pending release-blocking issues/prs
    • tests pass
  • Shake is up to date
    • uses same resolver as stack.yaml
    • uses any required workarounds in stack.yaml
    • binary is up to date (./Shake.hs)
    • commit any changes (msg: tools: shake)

Start making cross-platform binaries

  • do a preliminary push to origin/binaries
  • resolve failures

Update changelogs

in main repo, master branch:

  • ./Shake changelogs, clean up's, ./Shake changelogs -c

See also

Prepare release branch

Preview/major release:

  • PAUSE=1 ECHO=1 tools/release prep MA.JOR[.99.PREVIEWNUM] (eg for 1.25 preview 1) (XXX seems to go wrong without PAUSE`)
  • clean up changelogs, amend changelogs commit (see also CHANGELOGS)
  • cherry pick changes from master (if needed)
    • list changes in three side-by-side magit windows
        1. NEW IN MASTER: l o MAJORVER-branch..master, M-x magit-toggle-buffer-lock, M-x toggle-window-dedicated (C-c D)
        1. HEAD: regular magit status view
        1. RELEASE BRANCH: l o MAJORVER-branch, M-x magit-toggle-buffer-lock, M-x toggle-window-dedicated
    • in master window, working from bottom upward, cherry-pick all non-conflicting changes
      • skip changes already in release branch
      • skip changelog, command help, and manuals updates
  • release branch testing
    • stack build --test
    • make functest

Bugfix/fixup release:

  • cherry pick changes from master

Choose new version


Set new version

  • on release branch do ./Shake setversion -c NEW

Prepare release notes

In site repo:

  • update src/
    • copy template, uncomment
    • replace date
    • replace XX with NEW
    • add new content from changelogs, excluding hledger-lib
    • remove any empty sections
    • add contributors, git shortlog -sn OLD..NEW
    • add summary (major release) or remove it (bugfix release)
    • check preview in vs code
    • site repo commit: relnotes: NEW

Prepare announcement

(major/notable bugfix release)

In release branch:

  • update doc/ANNOUNCE (major release)
    • summary, contributors from release notes
    • any other edits
    • commit: ;doc: announce

Tag the release

  • ensure new version has been set with Shake setversion !
  • make tag

Do release build testing

  • touch/change Version.hs to encourage recompilation
  • stack build
  • stack exec -- hledger --version, check version, hash, release date, no '+'
  • stack exec -- hledger help | tail, check version, month matches release

Prepare release binaries

  • wait for any pending successful builds to complete and update cache
  • tools/release bin
  • get all platforms built on the same commit
  • delete any local downloaded binaries from last release
  • download binary artifact zip files (on each successful run: right click, download linked file)

Prepare new site manuals

(major release)

In site repo:

  • js/site.js: add NEW, 3 places
  • Makefile: add NEW, 2 places
  • commit: manuals: add NEW
  • make snapshot-NEW (after ensuring main repo has been release-tagged)
  • push

Prepare hledger-install script

(major/bugfix/fixup release)

  • update hledger-install/
    • HLEDGER_INSTALL_VERSION (release date)
    • RESOLVER (same as stack.yaml)
    • EXTRA_DEPS (same as stack.yaml)
    • hledger official packages (NEW)
    • hledger third-party packages (latest version on hackage)
  • test ? (won't work until new hledger packages are on hackage) cd; bash ~/src/hledger/hledger-install/
  • commit: install: NEW

Prepare install page

(major/bugfix/fixup release)

In site repo:

  • update
    • query-replace OLD -> NEW in
      • "current hledger release"
      • CI binaries badges/links, including linux-static-arm32v7 if built
      • "building from source"
      • stack install command
      • cabal install command
    • query-replace OLD-brightgreen -> OLD-red
    • only after release binaries are built (preferably after release is published): update --version outputs (search: hledger --version)
    • final output line from hledger test (run in terminal for normal speed)
    • Total count from make functest
    • commit: install: NEW

Draft github release

  • copy text from previous similar release,
  • create new release,
  • leave release tag unselected for now
  • set title (MA.JOR[...])
  • paste & replace with new release notes
  • upload CI binaries
  • save as draft
  • check preview, resolve issues

Pre-release pause

  • stop, go afk, take a break
  • review time, energy, availability, decide go/no-go

Pre-release tests

  • appropriate dates in: changelogs, release notes, --version output, man pages, hledger-install script

Push release branch

in main repo, release branch:

  • git push github MA.JOR-branch or magit P p
  • wait for CI success (?)

Upload to hackage

in main repo, release branch:

  • make hackageupload (major/bugfix/fixup release)

Push release branch and tags

in main repo, release branch:

  • git push --tags or magit P t

Publish github release

  • edit release
  • select release tag (MA.JOR[...])
  • click publish button

Update website

  • push to github: in site repo, git push github or magit P u
  • on server:
    • in main repo (both main and site repos on master):
      • git -C site pull && git pull && make site
      • (or to rebuild all pages, also run make -C site all)
    • in /opt/hledger/site/
      • @oldmanpath: add path for NEW
      • @unversionedmanpath: update to NEW
    • systemctl reload caddy
  • check site in browser
    • install page versions, badge colours
    • manuals' versions list in browser. If not updating, try
      • checking
      • another browser (not safari)
      • shift-reload
      • > purge
    • redirects
      • redirects to

Merge release branch changes to master

  • switch back to master
  • check out release branch in another working copy (hledger2)
  • manually merge release changelogs into master changelogs (see also CHANGELOGS)
  • list commits only in release branch: magit l o master..MA.JOR-branch
  • cherry-pick any other useful commits

Bump master to next version

(major release)

  • ./Shake setversion MA.JOR.99 -c
  • ./Shake cmdhelp [-c] (might be empty)
  • ./Shake mandates
  • ./Shake manuals -c

Push master

in main repo, master branch:

  • pass CI checks in dev branch:
    • ensure latest commit will trigger CI (does not begin with semicolon) (?)
    • git push github master:simon or magit P e github/simon, with -f if needed
    • wait for CI success at
  • git push github master or magit P u

Announce release

(major/bugfix release)

  • update last release date on
  • share github release link and release notes markdown in #hledger chat
  • send ANNOUNCE as email announcement
  • condense to 500 & post at
  • maybe condense to 140 & post at


  • move copy back to, commit

Post-release followup

  • monitor packaging status, update install page
    • docker - expect/merge PR
    • homebrew - expect badge to update soon
    • nix - expect make nix-hledger-version to update after a few days, find and update to that commit hash
    • linux distros - once in a while, follow the links & search for newer versions, update
  • provide support, monitor issues
  • prepare followup releases if needed
  • update process docs and tools

Update packaging

Update homebrew formula

  1. ref

    1. helpers: chenrui & stack issue commenters on github, Athas on #haskell


    3. doc

      If a URL is specified, the SHA-256 checksum of the new download should also be specified. A best effort to determine the SHA-256 and formula name will be made if either or both values are not supplied by the user.

      If a tag is specified, the Git commit revision corresponding to that tag must also be specified.

      Note: this command cannot be used to transition a formula from a URL-and-SHA-256 style specification into a tag-and-revision style specifi- cation, nor vice versa. It must use whichever style specification the for- mula already uses.

  2. update homebrew working copy

    1. cd ~/src/DEVTOOLS/homebrew-core

    2. git reset --hard HEAD~1 && git fetch origin && git merge origin/master && git push -f

  3. get release tarball checksums

    export V=X.Y; for P in -lib "" -ui -web; do curl -sO$P-$V/hledger$P-$V.tar.gz; done && shasum -a256 *.gz

  4. update Formula/hledger.rb

    1. update tarball urls, shas

    2. update other version references

    3. maybe update stackage snapshot

    4. possible new process, see:

    5. test (if possible without too many mac/brew hassles)

      1. brew audit --strict Formula/hledger.rb # some tests are post-install, try also after brew upgrade

      2. brew upgrade Formula/hledger.rb -s -n -v # [scrub download cache, dry run, verbose]

        1. super slow, how to speed up ?

          1. comment out stack update

          2. add , "--stack-root=/Users/simon/.stack" to stack install # fails on permissions

      3. brew test Formula/hledger.rb

    6. commit with name "hledger X.Y" and description "Update to hledger X.Y."

  5. get merged

    1. git push -f simonmichael

    2. gh pr create -f

    3. monitor: PR CI, PR merge, page

    4. ping brew contributors/maintainers if necessary: @chenrui, @carlocab, @SMillerDev

Update nix install command

  1. Wait for the new hledger version to land in nixpkgs

    1. make nix-hledger-version
  2. Find the nixpkgs haskell-packages commit post-dating the hledger release:

    1. make nix-view-commits #
  3. Test the nix-env install command with that commit hash

    1. if it fails with "SSL peer certificate or SSH remote key was not OK"

      1. . Users/simon.nix-profile/etc/profile.d/

      2. or re-install:

        1. curl -sO

        2. less install

        3. sh install

        4. . Users/simon.nix-profile/etc/profile.d/

    2. on linux

    3. on mac

Update stackage

  1. update if needed

  2. monitor for new package versions in nightly: check