Process to Create an Open edX Release

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Contents

Overview

This document explains how to make an Open edX release. In this document, I'll use "zebrawood" for the release you are making, and "yucca" for the previous release.

Schedule

The schedule of cuts and releases is maintained here: https://openedx.atlassian.net/wiki/spaces/COMM/pages/131531237

Repos

An Open edX release is comprised of specific versions of many repos.  The participating repos all exist in the openedx GitHub organization and are determined by examining the OEP-2 openedx.yaml files in each repo. In other words, every repository that has an openedx.yaml file in its root may or may not participate in the release, depending on the contents of the file. In particular, this line needs to be present:

openedx-release: {ref: master}

Tags and Branches

The release will have a branch in each participating repo.  This is the branch where releases are made.  This branch is named "open-release/RELEASENAME.master", for example, "open-release/zebrawood.master". Specific versions will be tagged on that branch, like "open-release/zebrawood.1".  The first version will be ".1", not ".0".

tag_release.py

To make the process practically feasible, a tag_release.py script exists in https://github.com/edx/repo-tools . In short, on each run it will discover which repositories are eligible for a release by listing all repos in the configured organizations (the default is edx, edx-ops, and edx-solutions) and examining their respective openedx.yaml files. If a given repository is indeed eligible, the script will execute the requested branching or tagging operation on it.

Release Manager Permissions

The release manager is a position in the Build-Test-Release WG. As part of their position, they should be nominated for the Release Manager Core Contributor Role , and hopefully confirmed for the role, which allows them to be granted write permissions on every repository that is part of the release.

  • If so:

    • Before cutting or tagging any release:

      • Confirm that the release manager is, in fact, a member of the community-release-manager GitHub team. If not, have someone from Axim add them.

      • Confirm that the community-release-manager GitHub team grants write access to all the repos in the release and only the repos in the release.

  • If not:

    • Before cutting or tagging any release:

      • Invite an Axim team member to the release ceremony. They will need to add the release manager to community-release-manager add the beginning of the ceremony and remove them from it add the end.

Cutting a release (Making the Master Branches)

1. Prepare for the cut a week before it is scheduled….

1a. Look into “maybe” repos

Run the tag_release script; if it outputs “*** openedx/somerepo has openedx-release 'maybe', skipped” lines, then you should get in touch with the repo owners and ask them if they should be included in the release. If yes, then the maybe: true line should be removed from the openedx.yaml file in the repo.
(see for instance this pull request).

1b. Schedule a release ceremony

Schedule a meeting for the day of release, including:

  • The release manager (you!)

  • At least one other Build-Test-Release WG member to check your work, take notes, etc.

  • If necessary, someone from Axim to grant permissions (see “Overview / Release Manager Permissions” section).

  • Anyone else who wants to listen in!

1c. Pre-announce the master branches

Make a post like this one in Discourse to let people know that the master branches will be created.

Get a 2U person to poke engineers inside 2U about it too.

1d. Create a wiki pages for release process notes

Create a child of this page for your own notes:

Example:

2. Hold a release cutting ceremony

Get together on a video call. Release manager: share your screen so everyone can follow along. If everyone’s comfortable with it, record it for future reference.

2a. Freeze edx-sandbox for the release

Starting with Quince, we need to freeze the Python dependency pins for the edx-platform codejail sandbox environment (also known as “edx-sandbox”). This allows operators to smoothly upgrade their instructor-authored code from release to release. The file needs to exist both in the release and on master, so this step needs to be done before the release cut.

To do this:

  • copy ./requirements/edx-sandbox/base.txt to a new file named ./requirements/edx-sandbox/releases/<RELEASE.txt>

  • git-add the new file and open a pull request against edx-platform master

  • tag someone for review and merge it before cutting the release.

That’s it! Here’s an example: .

2b. Testing before creating release branches

If you want to try a dry-run of the release before making any release branches, make a branch under your personal name. Don't use the full release name in the branch name, or people will think it's a release.  Follow the instructions for "Create the release branches", but use "yourname/test-z.1" instead of "open-release/zebrawood.master", for example:

$ tag_release --doit --skip-repo "*-internal" --branch yourname/test-z.1

2c. Create the release branches

The repo-tools repo has a script, tag_release.py, to branch and tag the proper repos.  The repos are indicated by an "openedx-release" entry in their openedx.yaml file.  Releases before Ficus would mark dependent repos (those installed by other repos, such as XBlock being installed by edx-platform).  We no longer branch or tag dependent repos.

$ tag_release --doit --skip-repo "*-internal" --branch open-release/zebrawood.master edx/configuration: master (branch) d213681 2016-02-17 Fred Smith: Merge pull request #2784 from edx/add-support-url edx/edx-analytics-data-api-client: 0.6.1 (tag) d621288 2015-05-07 Dennis Jen: Merge pull request #20 from edx/dsjen/update-setup edx/edx-certificates: master (branch) a2ed4ed 2015-08-28 Kelketek: Merge pull request #49 from edx/make_tmp_dir edx/edx-platform: release (branch) 71b3080 2016-02-17 Nimisha Asthagiri: Merge pull request #11532 from edx/rc/2016-02-16 .. and other repo information .. Is this correct? [y/N] y Success!

The tag_release.py script has other options to control it in various ways.

The branch will be created based on the current state of the release branches described in each repo's openedx.yaml.  In particular, for edx-platform, this will be a daily release.  Make note of which release it was, people will want to know this.

Double-check what the script did to see that it looks correct.

3. Make announcements rights after the release is cut

3a. Get release notes started

Tell your doc writer the date the release was based on.  Also find the date the previous release was based on.  They will use these two dates to comb the edx.org release notes for information to go into the Open edX release notes.

3b. Get the blog post started

??? Reach out to

3c. Update the release planning wiki pages

Consider “Yucca” to be the release you are cutting now, and “Zebrawood” to be the next release after that (six months from now).

Under

  • Create a new planning page for the next release:

    • Name it Next Release: Zebrawood.

    • You can use Next Release: Yucca page as a template for the structure of the page.

  • Indicate that current planning page, Next Release: Yucca, is no longer active:

    • Rename it Upcoming Release: Yucca.

    • Add a warning that new changes should be added to Next Release: Zebrawood.

Finally, update .

3d. Announce the creation of the Open edX release branch

Make a forum post announcing that the branches have been cut and explaining what that means. For example:

Hey Open edX developers,

TL;DR: We are now in the pre-release phase for the next Open edX release: Palm. Code merged to master now will not be part of Palm.  Keep this in mind as you make changes to master, especially needed fixes: They will need special attention, so reach out.

What is Palm?  The next Open edX community release is named Palm.  It will be based on the code as of today.  We can include your future changes if you alert us to them.  

What happened: Today we created the open-release/palm.master branches in our repos.  As of now, changes you merge to master will contribute to the release after Palm, which will be called Quince.

What you should do: As you merge PRs to master, please be aware of fixes that might need to be applied to Palm. Let the Build-Test-Release Working Group know if there is a fix to be applied. They will need to be cherry-picked to ship as part of Palm, a.k.a. “backported”.

I know this gets confusing, but your code going onto master will now automatically be part of the Quince release (due next December). There is a new Quince wiki page for you to note things that will need to be considered when it comes time to release Quince. Please add features, caveats, and concerns to that page. If you are uncertain whether something should be mentioned there, add it. Or, talk to the Build-Test-Release WG and we'll figure it out.

What’s next? From now until the Palm release date, the Build-Test-Release group will be actively testing the release branch, finding bugs, triaging them, merging fixes to master, and backporting them to Palm. The Build-Test-Release Testing Coordinator will be kicking off this process soon, and they are happy to take volunteers to find and fix bugs. Keep an eye out if you’re interested. Even if you don’t actively participate, you can help this process by promptly reviewing any bugfix PRs that are made in your repositories.

Have questions? If you want to know more, we have an FAQ about the Open edX community releases.  Please reach out if you have any questions.

--Ned, on behalf of the community Build/Test/Release working group.

Please x-post the announcement to the DEPR working group in the #wg-depr-slash-n-burn channel in the Open edX Slack, so that the DEPR working group can help write release notes of deprecated code in accordance with the .

3e. Get the test process started

Reach out to the Build-Test-Release Testing Manager to make sure they’re kicking off the testing process for the newly cut release.

When they have a test plan ready, add it to .

3f. Get the community-supported distribution release process started

Immediately inform the maintainers of community-supported distribution that the upstream release tags have been created and that the distribution release can proceed.

As of Palm, the community-supported distribution is Tutor. You can reach its maintainers by creating a thread on the forums and tagging @tutor-maintainers.

4. Make release-specific changes on the release branch

Some changes need to be made directly on the release branch, because they are intended for the release itself, and should not be on master.

Release line

In edx-platform/openedx/core/release.py, edit the RELEASE_LINE line to indicate the release:

5. Update the documentation

This will require you to make a few PRs. Have them reviewed from someone else on the Bulid-Test-Release WG.

5a. Changes guide book titles for the release

In openedx/edx-documentation, open a PR and tag someone on BTR for review:

  • On the open-release/zebrawood.master branch:

    • Update the titles of three books. The titles should be changed from “<Versionless Title>“ to “<Versionless Title>: <Version> Release“.

    • Also change intro paragraphs that explain what the book applies to.

    • For example, https://github.com/edx/edx-documentation/pull/1867

    • In each book, update source/index.rst and source/conf.py

      • "Building and Running an Open edX Course"

        • edx-documentation/en_us/open_edx_course_authors

      • "Installing, Configuring, and Running the Open edX Platform"

        • edx-documentation/en_us/install_operations

      • "Open edX Learner's Guide"

        • edx-documentation/en_us/open_edx_students

    • In shared/conf.py, update the “release_line” variable to have the name of the release:

5b. Ask Axim to activate hidden release versions of each book

File an Axim systems request to do the following:

5c. Add the latest release to the main docs site

In openedx/docs.openedx.org, open a PR and tag someone on BTR for review:

  • Create a new file at source/community/release_notes/palm.rst

    • Add a title to it like the following:

  • Update source/community/release_notes/index.rst, add a new line to the toctree so it looks something like this:

  • Update source/community/release_notes/named_release_branchs_and_tags.rst with a new section for the new release.

  • Once the PR has been created, contact the Release Documentation Expert so that they can review and merge the PR.

5d. Inform edx-platform developers via the PR template

Update the pull request template in the master branch of edx/edx-platform to encourage developers to contribute bugfixes back to both the upcoming & next release branches (see for instance this PR).

6. Create the release Transifex project

Translations after OEP-58 requires a new Transifex project for each named release. This will ensure the translations sources and code source stay in sync after main branches continue to evolve after cutting the release.

Creating multiple projects isn’t ideal and can be revisited if it turns out to harm the Translator Experience.

6a Double check the openedx-translations repository branch

Go to the repository and ensure it has the proper release branch e.g. open.release/zebrawood.master.

6b Clone the openedx-translations Transifex project

  • Create a new Transifex project: openedx-translations-zebrawood.

  • Add all the languages from the openex-translatiosn Transifex project.

6c Configure the GitHub Transifex App

This is a manual step:

  • Go to the Zebrawood Transifex project (openedx-translations-zebrawood) configuration settings

  • In the Integrations tab, click on the GitHub App integration “Install” button

    • Allow the integration

    • Grant permission to your account

    • Grant permission to the openedx/openedx-translations repository

  • Continue the wizard to configure the project integrations to the following:

    • Select repo step:

      • Selected repository: openedx/openedx-translations

      • Selected branch: Set it to the release branch e.g. open.release/zebrawood.master

    • Select files step:

      • Set the path to your YAML configuration file to transifex.yml

    • Sync content step:

      • PULL CONTENT: Fetch content automatically

      • PUSH CONTENT: 100% reviewed

      • Set “How would you like Transifex to push translations to GitHub?” to Create a Pull Request and No grouping

      • Add a prefix to the commit message: chore:

    • Click on the Update Settings button

    • Wait for the sync to complete. It takes about an hour.

    • Ensure that all the resources has been added.

6d Update the Transifex resources names and tags

The GitHub Transifex App integeration puts an inconvenient names for resources like "translations..frontend-app-something..src-i18n-transifex-input--main" instead of "frontend-app-something".

This can be fixed with the following command locally:

Tagging a release or release candidate (Tagging Numbered Releases)

Releases are tags marking specific versions of all the repos.  Take care with the steps to create and tag these.  It's surprising, but you have to edit files to refer to the tags before you can create the tag.

There are two types of tagged releases:

  • the major release (zebrawood.1) and

  • the minor (“point”) releases (zebrawood.2, zebrawood.3, and sometimes zebrawood.4+).

The steps below apply to both major & minor releases, unless they say (major only).

1. Prepare for the tagging a week before it is scheduled….

1a. Schedule a release ceremony

Schedule a meeting for the day of release, including:

  • The release manager (you!)

  • At least one other Build-Test-Release WG member to check your work, take notes, etc.

  • If necessary, someone from Axim to grant permissions (see “Overview / Release Manager Permissions” section).

  • Anyone else who wants to listen in!

Ask someone from Axim to put it on the community working groups calendar.

1b. Double-check that the test plan is complete (major only)

Go to the Test Plan spreadsheet and check whether testing has been sufficiently completed (to the discretion of the release manager).

1c. Double-check that all known issues have been addressed

Prior to making a release (major, minor, or even a candidate), it is imperative that all known issues be fixed. You can check at the GitHub Project board with an appropriate filter such as “label:bug milestone:lilac.1”. Over time other labels or milestones may be incorporated, but just keep in mind that issues such as an uninstallable tag are unacceptable.

Search for open pull requests against the release branch. For example, for Nutmeg, we would search: https://github.com/pulls?q=is%3Aopen+is%3Apr+base%3Aopen-release%2Fnutmeg.master+archived%3Afalse.

1d. Create a wiki pages for release process notes

Create a child of this page for your own notes:

Example:

2. Hold a release tagging ceremony

2a. Make a test branch (not a tag!)

To test the installation, but not yet mark the release, we'll make a test branch.  The branch should use your personal prefix ("you/"), and be named for the release you are working on, but with an additional .n suffix.  Don't use the full release name, or people will find the branch and think it is a release:

Don’t create a tag for testing, because once it is pulled by other developers or processes, it becomes very hard to delete - specially on a busy repository such as edx-platform.

The .1 suffix is so that you can make a .2 if something needs to be fixed.

2c. Test the release one last time

At the discretion of the release manager, consider doing some more testing at this point.

Here’s a way you can do that:

Where <y> is the most recent tagged release.

2d. Create RC or release tags

For each tagged repo, make tags for the release or release candidate. The tag name is different for the two:

  • Release candidate: the tag should be open-release/$RELEASE.XrcY, where X is the number of the release, and Y is the number of the RC.

  • Release: the tag should be should be open-release/$RELEASE.X, where X is the number of the release.

You can delete the test branches you made once the release is marked:

2e. Add the list of tagged repositories to the notes page

Just like this:

This will give BTR an answer to the question “Which repositories were tagged?”, which will certainly be asked many times.

2f. You’ve made a release!

Congrats, you’ve tagged a new Open edX release!

Now, read through the follow-up steps below, and make sure they make sense. In the next ~day you’ll either need to do yourself them or delegate them to others.

3. Kick off the community-supported distribution release

Immediately inform the maintainer of community-supported distribution that the upstream release tags have been created and that the distribution release can proceed.

As of Palm, the community-supported distribution is Tutor. You can reach its maintainers by creating a thread on the forums and tagging @tutor-maintainers.

4. Update the documentation

4a. Ask Axim to un-hide the release versions of each book (major only)

File an Axim systems request to do the following:

4b. Make the new release notes the “latest” (major only)

In openedx/docs.openedx.org, make a PR (example) with the following changes, tagging someone on BTR for review:

  • Update source/conf.py to point the latest release to the latest release page.

  • Update source/community/release_notes/index.rst:

    • Change “Zebrawood: The next release <zebrawood>” to “Zebrawood: The current release <zebrawood>”

    • Remove “Yucca: The current release <yucca>”

  • Update source/community/release_notes/named_release_branches_and_tags.rst (example)

  • Add “yucca” to the list at source/community/release_notes/old_releases.rst

  • In source/index.rst change “Current Release: Yucca <community/release_notes/yucca>” to “Current Release: Yucca <community/release_notes/yucca>”

4c. Update the release planning wiki pages (major only)

Consider “Yucca” to be the release you are cutting no"w, and “Zebrawood” to be the next release after that (six months from now).

Under

  • Rename Upcoming Release: Yucca to simply Yucca

  • Move Yucca under .

  • (Note: There should still be a Next Release: Zebrawood page underneath )

Finally, update .

4d. Inform edx-platform developers via the PR template (major only)

Update the pull request template in the master branch of edx/edx-platform to encourage developers to contribute bugfixes back to the latest release branch. Drop any mention of the previous release, which is now unsupported. See for instance this PR.

5. Announce to the community

Create a topic in the Announcements - Releases category on discuss.openedx.org.

Change the topic line in the #ops channel in Slack.

5a. Announce the new named release (major only)

Make sure a blog post gets published.

Update the Support Windows chart. For example: . Be sure to read the top of barcalendar.py to understand how to update the chart.

Have the 2U contact announce the release within 2U. Send an email to edx-tech-announce@2u.com, for example:

The Olive release of the Open edX platform was officially released on Monday 12/12! Thanks for everything you did to help make it happen. 

This is not the end of Olive: the open-release/olive.master branches are still accepting fixes. When fixing problems in your normal course of work, please consider whether it makes sense to backport it to Olive.

I know the release process can be a bit mysterious:

- The open-release/olive.master branches were created in 44 repos on October 11th.

- Since then, all work on master or main branches has only been part of Olive if it was explicitly cherry-picked or backported.

- The master or main work since October 11th has been the start of the Palm release that will happen next June.

If you have questions, we have an FAQ wiki page about Open edX releases, and you can always reach out to us in the #interest-openedx 2U Slack channel.

Thanks again for helping make the Open edX platform available around the world to the thousands of sites using it for their online education!

--Ned.

6. Keep an eye out for bugfixes that should be backported

Over the next two weeks or so, keep an eye out for bugfixes going into master, so that important bugfixes also go into the release master branch. These will become part of the following minor release.

Generally, zebrawood.3 is the final minor release, but in cases where we have important follow-up fixes, you can tag zebrawood.4, etc.

7. (For the final release) Check that release changes made it to master

During the stabilization of the release, you may have changes made directly on the open-release/zebrawood.master branch.  Take a look at what's there, and compare to master to be sure all the changes end up on master also.  Keep in mind that there are a few changes on the release branch that should only be on the release branch (RELEASE_LINE for example).