Guidance for release managers and maintainers. Some of this might move elsewhere later.


  • OLD - previous release version, eg 1.22 or 1.22.1
  • NEW - new release version, eg 1.22.2 or 1.23
  • MAJORVER - just the major version part, eg 1.22 or 1.23
  • master / master branch - master branch in the main hledger repo
  • release / release branch - a release branch in the main hledger repo, named MAJORVER-branch, eg 1.22-branch
  • site / site repo - master branch in the hledger_website repo, usually cloned under the main repo as site


When committing/reviewing:

Follow our commit conventions:

  • in the summary, use a feat:/imp:/fix: prefix (required for user-visible changes), and/or topic prefixes (bal:/areg:/test:/doc:/lib:/...)
  • add a leading ; to skip wasteful CI builds
  • add a ! to indicate breaking/incompatible changes
  • mention any relevant #issue numbers, usually parenthesised at the end
  • write the summary and at least the first part of the body, if any, as clear change documentation for the intended audience (users/installers/packagers/developers)

When committing/pushing/merging:

  • run bin/commitlint before push, to check recent commits
  • or, run it automatically before each commit (make installcommithook to configure your local repo)
  • it also runs in CI on github for pull requests, etc.


Always maintain changelogs in master branch (not in release branches).

Frequently, especially after merging changes, and before cherry picking into release branch:

  • dry run: ./Shake changelogs -n
  • add new changes: ./Shake changelogs
  • edit
    • drop things
    • move things
    • Add headings: Features, Improved, Fixes
    • rewrite things
    • format (#ISSUE, AUTHOR) on its own line
  • commit: ./Shake changelogs -c

After cherry-picking changes to a release branch:

  • in the master branch changelogs, move the corresponding changelog items under a pending release heading, creating that when necessary:
    # NEXTVER unreleased

At release:

  • do final update/edits; check organisation, wording, formatting, issue links
  • replace "unreleased" with the release date
  • copy the new sections from master changelogs to release branch changelogs

Release prep

  1. create release branch when needed:
    git branch MAJORVER-branch BRANCHPOINT
    Sometimes when convenient we make major releases on master (adapt the steps below as needed). And make the release branch later, when a minor release becomes necessary, eg:
    git branch 1.22-branch 1.22

  2. update changelogs in master

  3. review changes so far, estimate which packages will be released

  4. cherry pick changes to release

    • cherry pick release-worthy commits

      • from: magit, l o MAJORVER-branch..master, M-x magit-toggle-buffer-lock, M-x toggle-window-dedicated (C-c D)
      • to: magit, l o master..MAJORVER-branch, M-x magit-toggle-buffer-lock, M-x toggle-window-dedicated
      • ignore commits already seen in previous cherry picking sessions
      • ignore changelog commits / other boring commits ("dev: doc: update changelogs")
    • update changelogs in master (move corresponding change items under pending release heading)

Release day

In master:

  • ./Shake.hs to ensure Shake is current, review commands

  • finalise changelogs, copy each new section (emacs C-x r s a ... b ... c ... d)

In release branch:

  • paste new sections into changelogs

  • ./Shake setversion NEWVER [-c] (first without -c to review, then with -c to commit).

  • ./Shake cmdhelp [-c]

  • ./Shake mandates

  • ./Shake manuals -B [-c] (using up to date doctool versions)

  • make tag (signed annotated tags for each package and the overall release)

  • stack clean && stack install && hledger --version && hledger-ui --version && hledger-web --version to build locally and check version strings

  • push to CI branches to test & generate binaries

    • magit P -f e origin/ci-windows
    • magit P -f e origin/ci-mac
    • magit P -f e origin/ci-linux-static
    • magit P -f e origin/ci-linux-static-arm32 if needed

In site repo:

  • update

    • outputs in --version examples (search: hledger --version)
    • final output line from hledger test (run in terminal for normal speed)
    • Total count from make functest
    • 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
    • commit: download: NEW
  • update

    • copy template, uncomment
    • replace date
    • replace XX with NEW
    • add new changelog sections, excluding hledger-lib
    • remove any empty sections
    • add contributors, git shortlog -sn OLD..NEW
    • add summary (major release) or remove it (minor release)
    • check preview in vs code
    • commit: relnotes: NEW

In release branch:

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

In master:

  • cherry pick useful release branch changes

    • ;doc: ANNOUNCE
  • update hledger-install/

  • wait for CI binaries,

  • pre-release pause: take a break away from keyboard


In release branch:

  • review status, reflect

  • make hackageupload

  • push tags: magit P t origin

  • create github release

    •, copy last release's body
    • create new release from NEW tag if CI workflow has failed
    • tag NEW, title NEW, body similar to previous release
    • at download CI binary artifacts, check sizes look similar to previous
    • select downloaded artifacts in Finder, drag into github release
    • publish release
  • announce

    • push site download/relnotes updates
    • push master hledger-install update
    • share release notes link, summary in
    • share release notes link, summary, release notes markdown in
    • send ANNOUNCE to [email protected], [email protected] (major release) or brief announcement to [email protected] (minor release)
      • ANN: hledger NEW
      • release notes link, summary
      • release notes html (copied from browser)
    • tweet at ?
    • toot at ?

Post release

  • merge/check/update download page changes

    • 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
  • support

  • handle issues

  • update procedures, tools, docs