Releases (FREE)

In GitLab, a release enables you to create a snapshot of your project for your users, including installation packages and release notes. You can create a GitLab release on any branch. Creating a release also creates a Git tag to mark the release point in the source code.

WARNING: Deleting a Git tag associated with a release also deletes the release.

A release can include:

  • 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.
  • Release notes.

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.

When you create a release, or after, you can:

View releases

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, select 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

To sort releases by Released date or Created date, select from the sort order dropdown list. To switch between ascending or descending order, select Sort order.

Sort releases dropdown list options

Create a release

You can create a release:

We recommend creating a release as one of the last steps in your CI/CD pipeline.

Create a release in the Releases page

Prerequisites:

  • You must have at least the Developer role for a project. For more information, read Release permissions.

To create a release in the Releases page:

  1. On the top bar, select Main menu > Projects and find your project.
  2. On the left sidebar, select Deployments > Releases and select New release.
  3. From the Tag name dropdown list, either:
    • Select an existing Git tag. Selecting an existing tag that is already associated with a release results in a validation error.
    • Enter a new Git tag name.
      1. From the Create from dropdown list, select a branch or commit SHA to use when creating the new tag.
      2. Optional. In the Set tag message text box, enter a message to create an annotated tag.
  4. Optional. Enter additional information about the release, including:
  5. Select Create release.

Creating a release by using a CI/CD job

You can create a release directly as part of the GitLab CI/CD pipeline by using the release keyword in the job definition.

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

Methods for creating a release using a CI/CD job include:

Use a custom SSL CA certificate authority

You can use the ADDITIONAL_CA_CERT_BUNDLE CI/CD variable to configure a custom SSL CA certificate authority, which is used to verify the peer when the release-cli creates a release through the API using HTTPS with custom certificates. The ADDITIONAL_CA_CERT_BUNDLE value should contain the text representation of the X.509 PEM public-key certificate or the path/to/file containing the certificate authority. For example, to configure this value in the .gitlab-ci.yml file, use the following:

release:
  variables:
    ADDITIONAL_CA_CERT_BUNDLE: |
        -----BEGIN CERTIFICATE-----
        MIIGqTCCBJGgAwIBAgIQI7AVxxVwg2kch4d56XNdDjANBgkqhkiG9w0BAQsFADCB
        ...
        jWgmPqF3vUbZE0EyScetPJquRFRKIesyJuBFMAs=
        -----END CERTIFICATE-----
  script:
    - echo "Create release"
  release:
    name: 'My awesome release'
    tag_name: '$CI_COMMIT_TAG'

The ADDITIONAL_CA_CERT_BUNDLE value can also be configured as a custom variable in the UI, either as a file, which requires the path to the certificate, or as a variable, which requires the text representation of the certificate.

Create multiple releases in a single pipeline

A pipeline can have multiple release jobs, for example:

ios-release:
  script:
    - echo "iOS release job"
  release:
    tag_name: v1.0.0-ios
    description: 'iOS release v1.0.0'

android-release:
  script:
    - echo "Android release job"
  release:
    tag_name: v1.0.0-android
    description: 'Android release v1.0.0'

Release assets as Generic packages

You can use Generic packages to host your release assets. For a complete example, see the Release assets as Generic packages project.

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

Historical releases

Introduced in GitLab 15.2.

You can create a release in the past using either the Releases API or the UI. When you set a past released_at date, an Historical release badge is displayed next to the release tag. Due to being released in the past, release evidence is not available.

Edit a release

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, select Edit this release (the pencil icon).
  3. On the Edit Release page, change the release's details.
  4. Select Save changes.

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

Delete a release

Introduced in GitLab 15.2

When you delete a release, its assets are also deleted. However, the associated Git tag is not deleted.

Prerequisites:

To delete a release in the UI:

  1. On the top bar, select Main menu > Projects and find your project.
  2. On the left sidebar, select Deployments > Releases.
  3. In the top-right corner of the release you want to delete, select Edit this release ({pencil}).
  4. On the Edit Release page, select Delete.
  5. Select Delete release.

Associate milestones with a release

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, select Edit this release (the pencil icon).
  3. From the Milestones list, select each milestone you want to associate. You can select multiple milestones.
  4. Select 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 select 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

NOTE: A subgroup's project releases cannot be associated with a supergroup's milestone. To learn more, read issue #328054, Releases cannot be associated with a supergroup milestone.

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. Select Notification setting (the bell icon).
  3. In the list, select Custom.
  4. Select the New release checkbox.
  5. Close the dialog box to save.

Prevent unintentional releases by setting a deploy freeze

  • Introduced in GitLab 13.0.
  • The ability to delete freeze periods through the UI was introduced in GitLab 14.3.

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
  environment: production

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, go to Settings > CI/CD.
  4. Scroll to Deploy freezes.
  5. Select Expand to see the deploy freeze table.
  6. Select Add deploy freeze to open the deploy freeze modal.
  7. Enter the start time, end time, and time zone of the desired deploy freeze period.
  8. Select Add deploy freeze in the modal.
  9. After the deploy freeze is saved, you can edit it by selecting the edit button ({pencil}) and remove it by selecting the delete button ({remove}). Deploy freeze modal for setting a deploy freeze period

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 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, select 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 (PREMIUM SELF)

Introduced in GitLab 12.10.

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 (ULTIMATE)

Introduced in GitLab 13.2.

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 must 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 specify a past released_at date, the release becomes an Historical release and 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

Changes were made to the Guest role access in GitLab 14.5.

  • Users with at least the Reporter role have read and download access to the project releases.
  • Users with the Guest role have read and download access to the project releases. This includes associated Git-tag-names, release description, author information of the releases. However, other repository-related information, such as source code, release evidence are redacted.

Create, update, and delete a release and its assets

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

Release Metrics (ULTIMATE)

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

Working example project

The Guided Exploration project Utterly Automated Software and Artifact Versioning with GitVersion demonstrates:

  • Using GitLab releases.
  • Using the GitLab release-cli.
  • Creating a generic package.
  • Linking the package to the release.
  • Using a tool called GitVersion to automatically determine and increment versions for complex repositories.

You can copy the example project to your own group or instance for testing. More details on what other GitLab CI patterns are demonstrated are available at the project page.

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 associated 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.

Note about storage

Note that the feature is built on top of Git tags, so virtually no extra data is needed besides to create the release itself. Additional assets and the release evidence that is automatically generated consume storage.