Release CI/CD examples

GitLab release functionality is flexible, able to be configured to match your workflow. This page features example CI/CD release jobs. Each example demonstrates a method of creating a release in a CI/CD pipeline.

Create a release when a Git tag is created

In this CI/CD example, the release is triggered by one of the following events:

  • Pushing a Git tag to the repository.
  • Creating a Git tag in the UI.

You can use this method if you prefer to create the Git tag manually, and create a release as a result.

note
Do not provide Release notes when you create the Git tag in the UI. Providing release notes creates a release, resulting in the pipeline failing.

Key points in the following extract of an example .gitlab-ci.yml file:

  • The rules stanza defines when the job is added to the pipeline.
  • The Git tag is used in the release‚Äôs name and description.
release_job:
  stage: release
  image: registry.gitlab.com/gitlab-org/release-cli:latest
  rules:
    - if: $CI_COMMIT_TAG                 # Run this job when a tag is created
  script:
    - echo "running release_job"
  release:                               # See https://docs.gitlab.com/ee/ci/yaml/#release for available properties
    tag_name: '$CI_COMMIT_TAG'
    description: '$CI_COMMIT_TAG'

Create a release when a commit is merged to the default branch

In this CI/CD example, the release is triggered when you merge a commit to the default branch. You can use this method if your release workflow does not create a tag manually.

Key points in the following extract of an example .gitlab-ci.yml file:

  • The Git tag, description, and reference are created automatically in the pipeline.
  • If you manually create a tag, the release_job job does not run.
release_job:
  stage: release
  image: registry.gitlab.com/gitlab-org/release-cli:latest
  rules:
    - if: $CI_COMMIT_TAG
      when: never                                  # Do not run this job when a tag is created manually
    - if: $CI_COMMIT_BRANCH == $CI_DEFAULT_BRANCH  # Run this job when commits are pushed or merged to the default branch
  script:
    - echo "running release_job for $TAG"
  release:                                         # See https://docs.gitlab.com/ee/ci/yaml/#release for available properties
    tag_name: 'v0.$CI_PIPELINE_IID'                # The version is incremented per pipeline.
    description: 'v0.$CI_PIPELINE_IID'
    ref: '$CI_COMMIT_SHA'                          # The tag is created from the pipeline SHA.
note
Environment variables set in before_script or script are not available for expanding in the same job. Read more about potentially making variables available for expanding.

Create release metadata in a custom script

In this CI/CD example the release preparation is split into separate jobs for greater flexibility:

  • The prepare_job job generates the release metadata. Any image can be used to run the job, including a custom image. The generated metadata is stored in the variable file variables.env. This metadata is passed to the downstream job.
  • The release_job uses the content from the variables file to create a release, using the metadata passed to it in the variables file. This job must use the registry.gitlab.com/gitlab-org/release-cli:latest image because it contains the release CLI.
prepare_job:
  stage: prepare                                              # This stage must run before the release stage
  rules:
    - if: $CI_COMMIT_TAG
      when: never                                             # Do not run this job when a tag is created manually
    - if: $CI_COMMIT_BRANCH == $CI_DEFAULT_BRANCH             # Run this job when commits are pushed or merged to the default branch
  script:
    - echo "EXTRA_DESCRIPTION=some message" >> variables.env  # Generate the EXTRA_DESCRIPTION and TAG environment variables
    - echo "TAG=v$(cat VERSION)" >> variables.env             # and append to the variables.env file
  artifacts:
    reports:
      dotenv: variables.env                                   # Use artifacts:reports:dotenv to expose the variables to other jobs

release_job:
  stage: release
  image: registry.gitlab.com/gitlab-org/release-cli:latest
  needs:
    - job: prepare_job
      artifacts: true
  rules:
    - if: $CI_COMMIT_TAG
      when: never                                  # Do not run this job when a tag is created manually
    - if: $CI_COMMIT_BRANCH == $CI_DEFAULT_BRANCH  # Run this job when commits are pushed or merged to the default branch
  script:
    - echo "running release_job for $TAG"
  release:
    name: 'Release $TAG'
    description: 'Created using the release-cli $EXTRA_DESCRIPTION'  # $EXTRA_DESCRIPTION and the $TAG
    tag_name: '$TAG'                                                 # variables must be defined elsewhere
    ref: '$CI_COMMIT_SHA'                                            # in the pipeline. For example, in the
    milestones:                                                      # prepare_job
      - 'm1'
      - 'm2'
      - 'm3'
    released_at: '2020-07-15T08:00:00Z'  # Optional, is auto generated if not defined, or can use a variable.
    assets:
      links:
        - name: 'asset1'
          url: 'https://example.com/assets/1'
        - name: 'asset2'
          url: 'https://example.com/assets/2'
          filepath: '/pretty/url/1' # optional
          link_type: 'other' # optional

Skip multiple pipelines when creating a release

Creating a release using a CI/CD job could potentially trigger multiple pipelines if the associated tag does not exist already. To understand how this might happen, consider the following workflows:

  • Tag first, release second:

    1. A tag is created via UI or pushed.
    2. A tag pipeline is triggered, and runs release job.
    3. A release is created.
  • Release first, tag second:

    1. A pipeline is triggered when commits are pushed or merged to default branch. The pipeline runs release job.
    2. A release is created.
    3. A tag is created.
    4. A tag pipeline is triggered. The pipeline also runs release job.

In the second workflow, the release job runs in multiple pipelines. To prevent this, you can use the workflow:rules keyword to determine if a release job should run in a tag pipeline:

release_job:
  rules:
    - if: $CI_COMMIT_TAG
      when: never                                  # Do not run this job in a tag pipeline
    - if: $CI_COMMIT_BRANCH == $CI_DEFAULT_BRANCH  # Run this job when commits are pushed or merged to the default branch
  script:
    - echo "Create release"
  release:
    name: 'My awesome release'
    tag_name: '$CI_COMMIT_TAG'