Release strategy

Our approach to semantic versioning + time-based releases.

Pants release cycles flow through:

  1. dev releases from the main branch,
  2. an a (alpha) release, which is the first on a stable branch,
  3. rc releases, which have begun to stabilize, and might viably become a stable release
  4. stable releases, which are our most trusted.

Pants follows semantic versioning, along with using regular time-based dev releases. We follow a strict Deprecation policy.

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Tip: join the mailing group for release announcements

See Community.

Also see Upgrade tips for suggestions on how to effectively upgrade Pants versions.

Stable releases

Stable releases occur roughly every month. They have been vetted through at least one alpha and one release candidate.

Stable releases are named with the major, minor, and patch version (with no suffix). For example, 2.1.0 or 2.2.1.

Any new patch versions will only include:

  • Backward-compatible bug fixes
  • Backward-compatible feature backports, as long as they:
    1. Are requested by users
    2. Are deemed low-risk and are easy to backport
    3. Do not introduce new deprecations

Patch versions after *.0 (i.e.: 2.2.1) must have also had at least one release candidate, but no alpha releases are required.

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Stable releases may still have bugs

We try our best to write bug-free code, but, like everyone, we sometimes make mistakes.

If you encounter a bug, please gently let us know by opening a GitHub issue or messaging us on Slack. See Community.

Release candidates

rc releases are on track to being stable, but may still have some issues.

Release candidates are named with the major, minor, and patch version, and end in rc and a number. For example, 2.1.0rc0 or 2.1.0rc1.

Release candidates are subject to the constraints on cherry-picks mentioned in the Stable releases section.

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When is a release "stable" enough?

A stable release should not be created until at least five business days have passed since the first rc0 release. Typically, during this time, there will be multiple release candidates to fix any issues discovered.

A stable release can be created two business days after the most recent release candidate if there are no more blockers.

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Help wanted: testing out release candidates

We greatly appreciate when users test out release candidates. While we do our best to have comprehensive CI—and we "dogfood" release candidates—we are not able to test all the ways Pants is used in the wild.

If you encounter a bug, please gently let us know by opening a GitHub issue or messaging us on Slack. See Community.

Alpha releases

Alpha (a) releases are the first releases on a stable branch (after dev releases, and before rcs), and although they have not received any testing beyond what a dev release may have received, they are a particular focus for testing, because they represent code which will eventually become an rc.

Alpha releases are named with the major, minor, and patch version, and end in a and a number. For example, 2.1.0a0.

Except in extenuating circumstances, there will usually only be a single alpha release per series.

Dev releases

dev releases are weekly releases that occur directly from the main branch, without the additional vetting that is applied to stable releases, alpha releases, or release candidates. Usually, these are released on Friday or Monday.

Dev releases help to ensure a steady release cadence from main by filling in the gaps between the more time consuming stable releases.

Dev releases are named with the major, minor, and patch version, and end in .dev and a number. For example, 2.1.0.dev0 or 2.1.0.dev1.

Dev releases can include any changes, so long as they comply with the Deprecation policy.

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How many dev releases until starting a release candidate?

Usually, we release 3-4 dev releases before switching to the alpha release a0. This means we usually release dev0, dev1, dev2, sometimes dev3, and then a0.

We try to limit the number of changes in each stable release to make it easier for users to upgrade. If the dev releases have been particularly disruptive, such as making major deprecations, we may start a release candidate sooner, such as after dev1.


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