Releases

Introduced in GitLab 11.7.

To introduce a checkpoint in your source code history, you can assign a Git tag at the moment of release. However, in most cases, your users need more than just the raw source code. They need compiled objects or other assets output by your CI/CD system.

A GitLab Release can be:

  • A snapshot of the source code of your repository.
  • Generic packages created from job artifacts.
  • Other metadata associated with a released version of your code.

You can create a GitLab release on any branch. When you create a release:

  • GitLab automatically archives source code and associates it with the release.
  • GitLab automatically creates a JSON file that lists everything in the release, so you can compare and audit releases. This file is called release evidence.
  • You can add release notes and a message for the tag associated with the release.

After you create a release, you can associate milestones with it, and attach release assets, like runbooks or packages.

View releases

Introduced in GitLab 12.8.

To view a list of releases:

  • On the left sidebar, select Deployments > Releases, or

  • On the project’s overview page, if at least one release exists, click the number of releases.

    Number of Releases

    • On public projects, this number is visible to all users.
    • On private projects, this number is visible to users with Reporter permissions or higher.

Sort Releases

On the top right of the Releases page, you can use the sorting button to order releases by Released date or Created date. You can sort releases in ascending or descending order.

Sort Releases dropdown button

Create a release

Introduced in GitLab 12.9. Releases can be created directly in the GitLab UI.

You can create a release in the user interface, or by using the Releases API. We recommend using the API to create releases as one of the last steps in your CI/CD pipeline.

Only users with at least the Developer role can create releases. Read more about Release permissions.

To create a new release through the GitLab UI:

  1. On the left sidebar, select Deployments > Releases and select New release.
  2. Open the Tag name dropdown. Select an existing tag or type in a new tag name. Selecting an existing tag that is already associated with a release will result in a validation error.
  3. If creating a new tag, open the Create from dropdown. Select a branch, tag, or commit SHA to use when creating the new tag.
  4. Optionally, fill out any additional information about the release, such as its title, milestones, release notes, or assets links.
  5. Click Create release.

Create release from GitLab CI

Introduced in GitLab 12.7.

You can create a release directly from the GitLab CI pipeline by using a release node in the job definition.

The release is created only if the job processes without error. If the Rails API returns an error during release creation, the release job fails.

Upcoming releases

Introduced in GitLab 12.1.

You can create a release ahead of time by using the Releases API. When you set a future released_at date, an Upcoming Release badge is displayed next to the release tag. When the released_at date and time has passed, the badge is automatically removed.

An upcoming release

Edit a release

Introduced in GitLab 12.6. Asset link editing was introduced in GitLab 12.10.

Only users with at least the Developer role can edit releases. Read more about Release permissions.

To edit the details of a release:

  1. On the left sidebar, select Deployments > Releases.
  2. In the top-right corner of the release you want to modify, click Edit this release (the pencil icon).
  3. On the Edit Release page, change the release’s details.
  4. Click Save changes.

You can edit the release title, notes, associated milestones, and asset links. To change the release date use the Releases API.

Add release notes to Git tags

If you have an existing Git tag, you can add release notes to it.

You can do this in the user interface, or by using the Releases API. We recommend using the API to add release notes as one of the last steps in your CI/CD release pipeline.

In the interface, to add release notes to a new Git tag:

  1. Navigate to your project’s Repository > Tags.
  2. Click New tag.
  3. In the Release notes field, enter the release’s description. You can use Markdown and drag and drop files to this field.
  4. Click Create tag.

In the interface, to add release notes to an existing Git tag:

  1. Navigate to your project’s Repository > Tags.
  2. Click Edit release notes (the pencil icon).
  3. In the Release notes field, enter the release’s description. You can use Markdown in this field, and drag and drop files to it.
  4. Click Save changes.

Associate milestones with a release

Version history

You can associate a release with one or more project milestones.

GitLab Premium customers can specify group milestones to associate with a release.

You can do this in the user interface, or by including a milestones array in your request to the Releases API.

In the user interface, to associate milestones to a release:

  1. On the left sidebar, select Deployments > Releases.
  2. In the top-right corner of the release you want to modify, click Edit this release (the pencil icon).
  3. From the Milestones list, select each milestone you want to associate. You can select multiple milestones.
  4. Click Save changes.

On the Deployments > Releases page, the Milestone is listed in the top section, along with statistics about the issues in the milestones.

A Release with one associated milestone

Releases are also visible on the Issues > Milestones page, and when you click a milestone on this page.

Here is an example of milestones with no releases, one release, and two releases, respectively.

Milestones with and without Release associations

Get notified when a release is created

Introduced in GitLab 12.4.

You can be notified by email when a new release is created for your project.

To subscribe to notifications for releases:

  1. On the left sidebar, select Project information.
  2. Click Notification setting (the bell icon).
  3. In the list, click Custom.
  4. Select the New release check box.
  5. Close the dialog box to save.

Prevent unintentional releases by setting a deploy freeze

Introduced in GitLab 13.0.

Prevent unintended production releases during a period of time you specify by setting a deploy freeze period. Deploy freezes help reduce uncertainty and risk when automating deployments.

A maintainer can set a deploy freeze window in the user interface or by using the Freeze Periods API to set a freeze_start and a freeze_end, which are defined as crontab entries.

If the job that’s executing is within a freeze period, GitLab CI/CD creates an environment variable named $CI_DEPLOY_FREEZE.

To prevent the deployment job from executing, create a rules entry in your gitlab-ci.yml, for example:

deploy_to_production:
  stage: deploy
  script: deploy_to_prod.sh
  rules:
    - if: $CI_DEPLOY_FREEZE == null

To set a deploy freeze window in the UI, complete these steps:

  1. Sign in to GitLab as a user with the Maintainer role.
  2. On the left sidebar, select Project information.
  3. In the left navigation menu, navigate to Settings > CI/CD.
  4. Scroll to Deploy freezes.
  5. Click Expand to see the deploy freeze table.
  6. Click Add deploy freeze to open the deploy freeze modal.
  7. Enter the start time, end time, and timezone of the desired deploy freeze period.
  8. Click Add deploy freeze in the modal.
  9. After the deploy freeze is saved, you can edit it by selecting the edit button (). Deploy freeze modal for setting a deploy freeze period
cautionTo delete a deploy freeze, use the Freeze Periods API.

If a project contains multiple freeze periods, all periods apply. If they overlap, the freeze covers the complete overlapping period.

For more information, see Deployment safety.

Release fields

The following fields are available when you create or edit a release.

Title

The release title can be customized using the Release title field when creating or editing a release. If no title is provided, the release’s tag name is used instead.

Guest users of private projects are allowed to view the Releases page but are not allowed to view details about the Git repository (in particular, tag names). Because of this, release titles are replaced with a generic title like “Release-1234” for Guest users to avoid leaking tag name information.

See the Release permissions section for more information about permissions.

Tag name

The release tag name should include the release version. GitLab uses Semantic Versioning for our releases, and we recommend you do too. Use (Major).(Minor).(Patch), as detailed in the GitLab Policy for Versioning.

For example, for GitLab version 10.5.7:

  • 10 represents the major version. The major release was 10.0.0, but often referred to as 10.0.
  • 5 represents the minor version. The minor release was 10.5.0, but often referred to as 10.5.
  • 7 represents the patch number.

Any part of the version number can be multiple digits, for example, 13.10.11.

Release notes description

Every release has a description. You can add any text you like, but we recommend including a changelog to describe the content of your release. This helps users quickly scan the differences between each release you publish.

Git’s tagging messages and Release note descriptions are unrelated. Description supports Markdown.

Release assets

A release contains the following types of assets:

Source code

GitLab automatically generates zip, tar.gz, tar.bz2, and tar archived source code from the given Git tag. These are read-only assets.

A link is any URL which can point to whatever you like: documentation, built binaries, or other related materials. These can be both internal or external links from your GitLab instance. Each link as an asset has the following attributes:

Attribute Description Required
name The name of the link. Yes
url The URL to download a file. Yes
filepath The redirect link to the url. See this section for more information. No
link_type The content kind of what users can download via url. See this section for more information. No

Introduced in GitLab 12.9.

The assets associated with a release are accessible through a permanent URL. GitLab always redirects this URL to the actual asset location, so even if the assets move to a different location, you can continue to use the same URL. This is defined during link creation or updating.

The format of the URL is:

https://host/namespace/project/releases/:release/downloads/:filepath

If you have an asset for the v11.9.0-rc2 release in the gitlab-org namespace and gitlab-runner project on gitlab.com, for example:

{
  "name": "linux amd64",
  "filepath": "/binaries/gitlab-runner-linux-amd64",
  "url": "https://gitlab-runner-downloads.s3.amazonaws.com/v11.9.0-rc2/binaries/gitlab-runner-linux-amd64",
  "link_type": "other"
}

This asset has a direct link of:

https://gitlab.com/gitlab-org/gitlab-runner/releases/v11.9.0-rc2/downloads/binaries/gitlab-runner-linux-amd64

The physical location of the asset can change at any time and the direct link remains unchanged.

Introduced in GitLab 13.1.

The four types of links are “Runbook,” “Package,” “Image,” and “Other.” The link_type parameter accepts one of the following four values:

  • runbook
  • package
  • image
  • other (default)

This field has no effect on the URL and it’s only used for visual purposes in the Releases page of your project.

Use a generic package for attaching binaries

You can use generic packages to store any artifacts from a release or tag pipeline, that can also be used for attaching binary files to an individual release entry. You basically need to:

  1. Push the artifacts to the Generic Package Registry.
  2. Attach the package link to the release.

The following example generates release assets, publishes them as a generic package, and then creates a release:

stages:
  - build
  - upload
  - release

variables:
  # Package version can only contain numbers (0-9), and dots (.).
  # Must be in the format of X.Y.Z, i.e. should match /\A\d+\.\d+\.\d+\z/ regular expresion.
  # See https://docs.gitlab.com/ee/user/packages/generic_packages/#publish-a-package-file
  PACKAGE_VERSION: "1.2.3"
  DARWIN_AMD64_BINARY: "myawesomerelease-darwin-amd64-${PACKAGE_VERSION}"
  LINUX_AMD64_BINARY: "myawesomerelease-linux-amd64-${PACKAGE_VERSION}"
  PACKAGE_REGISTRY_URL: "${CI_API_V4_URL}/projects/${CI_PROJECT_ID}/packages/generic/myawesomerelease/${PACKAGE_VERSION}"

build:
  stage: build
  image: alpine:latest
  rules:
    - if: $CI_COMMIT_TAG
  script:
    - mkdir bin
    - echo "Mock binary for ${DARWIN_AMD64_BINARY}" > bin/${DARWIN_AMD64_BINARY}
    - echo "Mock binary for ${LINUX_AMD64_BINARY}" > bin/${LINUX_AMD64_BINARY}
  artifacts:
    paths:
      - bin/

upload:
  stage: upload
  image: curlimages/curl:latest
  rules:
    - if: $CI_COMMIT_TAG
  script:
    - |
      curl --header "JOB-TOKEN: ${CI_JOB_TOKEN}" --upload-file bin/${DARWIN_AMD64_BINARY} ${PACKAGE_REGISTRY_URL}/${DARWIN_AMD64_BINARY}
    - |
      curl --header "JOB-TOKEN: ${CI_JOB_TOKEN}" --upload-file bin/${LINUX_AMD64_BINARY} ${PACKAGE_REGISTRY_URL}/${LINUX_AMD64_BINARY}

release:
  # Caution, as of 2021-02-02 these assets links require a login, see:
  # https://gitlab.com/gitlab-org/gitlab/-/issues/299384
  stage: release
  image: registry.gitlab.com/gitlab-org/release-cli:latest
  rules:
    - if: $CI_COMMIT_TAG
  script:
    - |
      release-cli create --name "Release $CI_COMMIT_TAG" --tag-name $CI_COMMIT_TAG \
        --assets-link "{\"name\":\"${DARWIN_AMD64_BINARY}\",\"url\":\"${PACKAGE_REGISTRY_URL}/${DARWIN_AMD64_BINARY}\"}" \
        --assets-link "{\"name\":\"${LINUX_AMD64_BINARY}\",\"url\":\"${PACKAGE_REGISTRY_URL}/${LINUX_AMD64_BINARY}\"}"

PowerShell users may need to escape the double quote " inside a JSON string with a ` (back tick) for --assets-link and ConvertTo-Json before passing on to the release-cli. For example:

release:
  script:
    - $env:asset = "{`"name`":`"MyFooAsset`",`"url`":`"https://gitlab.com/upack/artifacts/download/$env:UPACK_GROUP/$env:UPACK_NAME/$($env:GitVersion_SemVer)?contentOnly=zip`"}"
    - $env:assetjson = $env:asset | ConvertTo-Json
    - release-cli create --name $CI_COMMIT_TAG --description "Release $CI_COMMIT_TAG" --ref $CI_COMMIT_TAG --tag-name $CI_COMMIT_TAG --assets-link=$env:assetjson
noteDirectly attaching job artifacts links to a release is not recommended, because artifacts are ephemeral and are used to pass data in the same pipeline. This means there’s a risk that they could either expire or someone might manually delete them.

Release evidence

Introduced in GitLab 12.6.

Each time a release is created, GitLab takes a snapshot of data that’s related to it. This data is saved in a JSON file and called release evidence. The feature includes test artifacts and linked milestones to facilitate internal processes, like external audits.

To access the release evidence, on the Releases page, click the link to the JSON file that’s listed under the Evidence collection heading.

You can also use the API to generate release evidence for an existing release. Because of this, each release can have multiple release evidence snapshots. You can view the release evidence and its details on the Releases page.

When the issue tracker is disabled, release evidence can’t be downloaded.

Here is an example of a release evidence object:

{
  "release": {
    "id": 5,
    "tag_name": "v4.0",
    "name": "New release",
    "project": {
      "id": 20,
      "name": "Project name",
      "created_at": "2019-04-14T11:12:13.940Z",
      "description": "Project description"
    },
    "created_at": "2019-06-28 13:23:40 UTC",
    "description": "Release description",
    "milestones": [
      {
        "id": 11,
        "title": "v4.0-rc1",
        "state": "closed",
        "due_date": "2019-05-12 12:00:00 UTC",
        "created_at": "2019-04-17 15:45:12 UTC",
        "issues": [
          {
            "id": 82,
            "title": "The top-right popup is broken",
            "author_name": "John Doe",
            "author_email": "john@doe.com",
            "state": "closed",
            "due_date": "2019-05-10 12:00:00 UTC"
          },
          {
            "id": 89,
            "title": "The title of this page is misleading",
            "author_name": "Jane Smith",
            "author_email": "jane@smith.com",
            "state": "closed",
            "due_date": "nil"
          }
        ]
      },
      {
        "id": 12,
        "title": "v4.0-rc2",
        "state": "closed",
        "due_date": "2019-05-30 18:30:00 UTC",
        "created_at": "2019-04-17 15:45:12 UTC",
        "issues": []
      }
    ],
    "report_artifacts": [
      {
        "url":"https://gitlab.example.com/root/project-name/-/jobs/111/artifacts/download"
      }
    ]
  }
}

Collect release evidence

When a release is created, release evidence is automatically collected. To initiate evidence collection any other time, use an API call. You can collect release evidence multiple times for one release.

Evidence collection snapshots are visible on the Releases page, along with the timestamp the evidence was collected.

Include report artifacts as release evidence

When you create a release, if job artifacts are included in the last pipeline that ran, they are automatically included in the release as release evidence.

Although job artifacts normally expire, artifacts included in release evidence do not expire.

To enable job artifact collection you need to specify both:

  1. artifacts:paths
  2. artifacts:reports
ruby:
  script:
    - gem install bundler
    - bundle install
    - bundle exec rspec --format progress --format RspecJunitFormatter --out rspec.xml
  artifacts:
    paths:
      - rspec.xml
    reports:
      junit: rspec.xml

If the pipeline ran successfully, when you create your release, the rspec.xml file is saved as release evidence.

If you schedule release evidence collection, some artifacts may already be expired by the time of evidence collection. To avoid this you can use the artifacts:expire_in keyword. Learn more in this issue.

Schedule release evidence collection

Introduced in GitLab 12.8.

In the API:

  • If you specify a future released_at date, the release becomes an Upcoming Release and the evidence is collected on the date of the release. You cannot collect release evidence before then.
  • If you use a past released_at date, no evidence is collected.
  • If you do not specify a released_at date, release evidence is collected on the date the release is created.

Release permissions

The permission model for create, update and delete actions was fixed in GitLab 14.1.

View a release and download assets

  • Users with Reporter role or above have read and download access to the project releases.
  • Users with Guest role have read and download access to the project releases, however, repository-related information are redacted (for example the Git tag name).

Create, update, and delete a release and its assets

As an example of release permission control, you can allow only Maintainer role or above to create, update, and delete releases by protecting the tag with a wildcard (*), and set Maintainer in the Allowed to create column.

Release Command Line

Introduced in GitLab 12.10.

The Release CLI is a command-line tool for managing GitLab Releases from the command line or from the GitLab CI/CD configuration file, .gitlab-ci.yml.

With it, you can create, update, modify, and delete releases right through the terminal.

Read the Release CLI documentation for details.

Release Metrics

Introduced in GitLab Premium 13.9.

Group-level release metrics are available by navigating to Group > Analytics > CI/CD. These metrics include:

  • Total number of releases in the group
  • Percentage of projects in the group that have at least one release

Troubleshooting

Getting 403 Forbidden or Something went wrong while creating a new release errors when creating, updating or deleting releases and their assets

If the release is associted with a protected tag, the UI/API request might result in an authorization failure. Make sure that the user or a service/bot account is allowed to create the protected tag too.

See the release permissions for more information.