How to Do a Release

Periodically, the yt development community issues new releases. Since yt follows semantic versioning, the type of release can be read off from the version number used. Version numbers should follow the scheme MAJOR.MINOR.PATCH. There are three kinds of possible releases:

  • Bugfix releases

    These releases are regularly scheduled and will optimally happen approximately once a month. These releases should contain only fixes for bugs discovered in earlier releases and should not contain new features or API changes. Bugfix releases should increment the PATCH version number. Bugfix releases should not be generated by merging from the yt branch, instead bugfix pull requests should be manually backported using the PR backport script, described below. Version 3.2.2 is a bugfix release.

  • Minor releases

    These releases happen when new features are deemed ready to be merged into the stable branch and should not happen on a regular schedule. Minor releases can also include fixes for bugs if the fix is determined to be too invasive for a bugfix release. Minor releases should not inlucde backwards-incompatible changes and should not change APIs. If an API change is deemed to be necessary, the old API should continue to function but might trigger deprecation warnings. Minor releases should happen by merging the yt branch into the stable branch. Minor releases should increment the MINOR version number and reset the PATCH version number to zero. Version 3.3.0 is a minor release.

  • Major releases

    These releases happen when the development community decides to make major backwards-incompatible changes. In principle a major version release could include arbitrary changes to the library. Major version releases should only happen after extensive discussion and vetting among the developer and user community. Like minor releases, a major release should happen by merging the yt branch into the stable branch. Major releases should increment the MAJOR version number and reset the MINOR and PATCH version numbers to zero. If it ever happens, version 4.0.0 will be a major release.

The job of doing a release differs depending on the kind of release. Below, we describe the necessary steps for each kind of release in detail.

Doing a Bugfix Release

As described above, bugfix releases are regularly scheduled updates for minor releases to ensure fixes for bugs make their way out to users in a timely manner. Since bugfix releases should not include new features, we do not issue bugfix releases by simply merging from the development yt branch into the stable branch. Instead, we make use of the script to manually cherry-pick bugfixes from the from yt branch onto the stable branch.

The backport script issues interactive prompts to backport individual pull requests to the stable branch in a temporary clone of the main yt mercurial repository on bitbucket. The script is written this way to to avoid editing history in a clone of the repository that a developer uses for day-to-day work and to avoid mixing work-in-progress changes with changes that have made their way to the “canonical” yt repository on bitbucket.

Rather than automatically manipulating the temporary repository by scripting mercurial commands using python-hglib, the script must be “operated” by a human who is ready to think carefully about what the script is telling them to do. Most operations will merely require copy/pasting a suggested mercurial command. However, some changes will require manual backporting.

To run the backport script, first open two terminal windows. The first window will be used to run the backport script. The second terminal will be used to manipulate a temporary clone of the yt mercurial repository. In the first window, navigate to the scripts directory at the root of the yt repository and run the backport script,

$ cd $YT_HG/scripts
$ python

You will then need to wait for about a minute (depending on the speed of your internet connection and bitbucket’s servers) while the script makes a clone of the main yt repository and then gathers information about pull requests that have been merged since the last tagged release. Once this step finishes, you will be prompted to navigate to the temporary folder in a new separate terminal session. Do so, and then hit the enter key in the original terminal session.

For each pull request in the set of pull requests that were merged since the last tagged release that were pointed at the “main” line of development (e.g. not the experimental bookmark), you will be prompted by the script with the PR number, title, description, and a suggested mercurial command to use to backport the pull request. If the pull request consists of a single changeset, you will be prompted to use hg graft. If it contains more than one changeset, you will be prompted to use hg rebase. Note that rebase is an optional extension for mercurial that is not turned on by default. To enable it, add a section like the following in your .hgrc file:


Since rebase is bundled with core mercurial, you do not need to specify a path to the rebase extension, just say rebase= and mercurial will find the version of rebase bundled with mercurial. Note also that mercurial does not automatically update to the tip of the rebased head after executing hg rebase so you will need to manually issue hg update stable to move your working directory to the new head of the stable branch. The backport script should prompt you with a suggestion to update as well.

If the pull request contains merge commits, you must take care to not backport commits that merge with the main line of development on the yt branch. Doing so may bring unrelated changes, including new features, into a bugfix release. If the pull request you’d like to backport contains merge commits, the backport script should warn you to be extra careful.

Once you’ve finished backporting, the script will let you know that you are done and warn you to push your work. The temporary repository you have been working with will be deleted as soon as the script exits, so take care to push your work on the stable branch to your fork on bitbucket. Once you’ve pushed to your fork, you will be able to issue a pull request containing the backported fixes just like any other yt pull request.

Doing a Minor or Major Release

This is much simpler than a bugfix release. All that needs to happen is the yt branch must get merged into the stable branch, and any conflicts that happen must be resolved, almost certainly in favor of the yt branch. This can happen either using a merge tool like vimdiff and kdiff3 or by telling mercurial to write merge markers. If you prefer merge markers, the following configuration options should be turned on in your hgrc to get more detail during the merge:

merge = internal:merge3
mergemarkers = detailed

The first option tells mercurial to write merge markers that show the state of the conflicted region of the code on both sides of the merge as well as the “base” most recent common ancestor changeset. The second option tells mercurial to add extra information about the code near the merge markers.

Incrementing Version Numbers and Tagging a Release

Before creating the tag for the release, you must increment the version numbers that are hard-coded in a few files in the yt source so that version metadata for the code is generated correctly. This includes things like yt.__version__ and the version that gets read by the Python Package Index (PyPI) infrastructure.

The paths relative to the root of the repository for the three files that need to be edited are:

  • doc/source/

    The version and release variables need to be updated.


    The VERSION variable needs to be updated

  • yt/

    The __version__ variable must be updated.

Once these files have been updated, commit these updates. This is the commit we will tag for the release.

To actually create the tag, issue the following command:

hg tag <tag-name>

Where <tag-name> follows the project’s naming scheme for tags (e.g. yt-3.2.1). Commit the tag, and you should be ready to upload the release to pypi.

If you are doing a minor or major version number release, you will also need to update back to the development branch and update the development version numbers in the same files.

Uploading to PyPI

To actually upload the release to the Python Package Index, you just need to issue the following command:

python sdist upload -r

You will be prompted for your PyPI credentials and then the package should upload. Note that for this to complete successfully, you will need an account on PyPI and that account will need to be registered as an “owner” of the yt package. Right now there are three owners: Matt Turk, Britton Smith, and Nathan Goldbaum.

After the release is uploaded to PyPI, you should send out an announcement e-mail to the yt mailing lists as well as other possibly interested mailing lists for all but bugfix releases. In addition, you should contact John ZuHone about uploading binary wheels to PyPI for Windows and OS X users and contact Nathan Goldbaum about getting the Anaconda packages updated.