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How is Django Formed?

This document explains how to release Django.

Please, keep these instructions up-to-date if you make changes! The point here is to be descriptive, not prescriptive, so feel free to streamline or otherwise make changes, but update this document accordingly!


There are three types of releases that you might need to make:

  • Security releases: disclosing and fixing a vulnerability. This’ll generally involve two or three simultaneous releases – e.g. 1.5.x, 1.6.x, and, depending on timing, perhaps a 1.7 alpha/beta/rc.
  • Regular version releases: either a final release (e.g. 1.5) or a bugfix update (e.g. 1.5.1).
  • Pre-releases: e.g. 1.6 alpha, beta, or rc.

The short version of the steps involved is:

  1. If this is a security release, pre-notify the security distribution list one week before the actual release.
  2. Proofread the release notes, looking for organization and writing errors. Draft a blog post and email announcement.
  3. Update version numbers and create the release package(s).
  4. Upload the package(s) to the djangoproject.com server.
  5. Unless this is a pre-release, add the new version(s) to PyPI.
  6. Declare the new version in the admin on djangoproject.com.
  7. Post the blog entry and send out the email announcements.
  8. Update version numbers post-release.

There are a lot of details, so please read on.


You’ll need a few things before getting started:

  • A GPG key. If the key you want to use is not your default signing key, you’ll need to add -u you@example.com to every GPG signing command below, where you@example.com is the email address associated with the key you want to use.

  • An install of some required Python packages:

    $ pip install wheel twine
  • Access to Django’s record on PyPI. Create a file with your credentials:

  • Access to the djangoproject.com server to upload files.

  • Access to the admin on djangoproject.com as a “Site maintainer”.

  • Access to post to django-announce.

  • If this is a security release, access to the pre-notification distribution list.

If this is your first release, you’ll need to coordinate with James and/or Jacob to get all these things lined up.

Pre-release tasks

A few items need to be taken care of before even beginning the release process. This stuff starts about a week before the release; most of it can be done any time leading up to the actual release:

  1. If this is a security release, send out pre-notification one week before the release. We maintain a list of who gets these pre-notification emails in the private django-core repository. Send the mail to security@djangoproject.com and BCC the pre-notification recipients. This email should be signed by the key you’ll use for the release, and should include patches for each issue being fixed.
  2. As the release approaches, watch Trac to make sure no release blockers are left for the upcoming release.
  3. Check with the other committers to make sure they don’t have any uncommitted changes for the release.
  4. Proofread the release notes, including looking at the online version to catch any broken links or reST errors, and make sure the release notes contain the correct date.
  5. Double-check that the release notes mention deprecation timelines for any APIs noted as deprecated, and that they mention any changes in Python version support.
  6. Double-check that the release notes index has a link to the notes for the new release; this will be in docs/releases/index.txt.

Preparing for release

Write the announcement blog post for the release. You can enter it into the admin at any time and mark it as inactive. Here are a few examples: example security release announcement, example regular release announcement, example pre-release announcement.

Actually rolling the release

OK, this is the fun part, where we actually push out a release!

  1. Check Jenkins is green for the version(s) you’re putting out. You probably shouldn’t issue a release until it’s green.

  2. A release always begins from a release branch, so you should make sure you’re on a stable branch and up-to-date. For example:

    git checkout stable/1.5.x
    git pull
  3. If this is a security release, merge the appropriate patches from django-private. Rebase these patches as necessary to make each one a simple commit on the release branch rather than a merge commit. To ensure this, merge them with the --ff-only flag; for example:

    git checkout stable/1.5.x
    git merge --ff-only security/1.5.x

    (This assumes security/1.5.x is a branch in the django-private repo containing the necessary security patches for the next release in the 1.5 series.)

    If git refuses to merge with --ff-only, switch to the security-patch branch and rebase it on the branch you are about to merge it into (git checkout security/1.5.x; git rebase stable/1.5.x) and then switch back and do the merge. Make sure the commit message for each security fix explains that the commit is a security fix and that an announcement will follow (example security commit).

  4. For a major version release, remove the UNDER DEVELOPMENT header at the top of the release notes and add the release date on the next line. For a minor release, replace *Under Development* with the release date. Make this change on all branches where the release notes for a particular version are located.

  5. Update the version number in django/__init__.py for the release. Please see notes on setting the VERSION tuple below for details on VERSION.

    In 1.4, the version number in docs/conf.py and setup.py should also be updated. Here’s an example commit updating version numbers for that.

  6. If this is a pre-release package, update the “Development Status” trove classifier in setup.py to reflect this. Otherwise, make sure the classifier is set to Development Status :: 5 - Production/Stable.

  7. Tag the release using git tag. For example:

    git tag --sign --message="Tag 1.5.1" 1.5.1

    You can check your work by running git tag --verify <tag>.

  8. Push your work, including the tag: git push --tags.

  9. Make sure you have an absolutely clean tree by running git clean -dfx.

  10. Run make -f extras/Makefile to generate the release packages. This will create the release packages in a dist/ directory. Note that we don’t publish wheel files for 1.4.

  11. Generate the hashes of the release packages:

    $ cd dist
    $ md5sum *
    $ sha1sum *
    $ sha256sum *
  12. Create a “checksums” file, Django-<<VERSION>>.checksum.txt containing the hashes and release information. Start with this template and insert the correct version, date, GPG key ID (from gpg --list-keys --keyid-format LONG), release URL, and checksums:

    This file contains MD5, SHA1, and SHA256 checksums for the source-code
    tarball of Django <<VERSION>>, released <<DATE>>.
    To use this file, you will need a working install of PGP or other
    compatible public-key encryption software. You will also need to have
    the Django release manager's public key in your keyring; this key has
    the ID ``XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX`` and can be imported from the MIT
    keyserver. For example, if using the open-source GNU Privacy Guard
    implementation of PGP:
        gpg --keyserver pgp.mit.edu --recv-key XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX
    Once the key is imported, verify this file::
        gpg --verify <<THIS FILENAME>>
    Once you have verified this file, you can use normal MD5, SHA1, or SHA256
    checksumming applications to generate the checksums of the Django
    package and compare them to the checksums listed below.
    Release packages:
    Django <<VERSION>> (tar.tgz): https://www.djangoproject.com/m/releases/<<RELEASE TAR.GZ FILENAME>>
    Django <<VERSION>> (.whl): https://www.djangoproject.com/m/releases/<<RELEASE WHL FILENAME>>
    MD5 checksums:
    SHA1 checksums:
    SHA256 checksums:
  13. Sign the checksum file (gpg --clearsign --digest-algo SHA256 Django-<version>.checksum.txt). This generates a signed document, Django-<version>.checksum.txt.asc which you can then verify using gpg --verify Django-<version>.checksum.txt.asc.

If you’re issuing multiple releases, repeat these steps for each release.

Making the release(s) available to the public

Now you’re ready to actually put the release out there. To do this:

  1. Upload the release package(s) to the djangoproject server, replacing A.B. with the appropriate version number, e.g. 1.5 for a 1.5.x release:

    $ scp Django-* djangoproject.com:/home/www/www/media/releases/A.B
  2. Upload the checksum file(s):

    $ scp Django-A.B.C.checksum.txt.asc djangoproject.com:/home/www/www/media/pgp/Django-A.B.C.checksum.txt
  3. Test that the release packages install correctly using easy_install and pip. Here’s one method (which requires virtualenvwrapper):

    $ RELEASE_VERSION='1.7.2'
    $ MAJOR_VERSION=`echo $RELEASE_VERSION| cut -c 1-3`
    $ mktmpenv
    $ easy_install https://www.djangoproject.com/m/releases/$MAJOR_VERSION/Django-$RELEASE_VERSION.tar.gz
    $ deactivate
    $ mktmpenv
    $ pip install https://www.djangoproject.com/m/releases/$MAJOR_VERSION/Django-$RELEASE_VERSION.tar.gz
    $ deactivate
    $ mktmpenv
    $ pip install https://www.djangoproject.com/m/releases/$MAJOR_VERSION/Django-$RELEASE_VERSION-py2.py3-none-any.whl
    $ deactivate

    This just tests that the tarballs are available (i.e. redirects are up) and that they install correctly, but it’ll catch silly mistakes.

  4. Ask a few people on IRC to verify the checksums by visiting the checksums file (e.g. https://www.djangoproject.com/m/pgp/Django-1.5b1.checksum.txt) and following the instructions in it. For bonus points, they can also unpack the downloaded release tarball and verify that its contents appear to be correct (proper version numbers, no stray .pyc or other undesirable files).

  5. Upload the release packages to PyPI:

    $ twine upload -s dist/*
  6. Go to the Add release page in the admin, enter the new release number exactly as it appears in the name of the tarball (Django-<version>.tar.gz). So for example enter “1.5.1” or “1.4-rc-2”, etc. If the release is part of an LTS branch, mark it so.

  7. Make the blog post announcing the release live.

  8. For a new version release (e.g. 1.5, 1.6), update the default stable version of the docs by flipping the is_default flag to True on the appropriate DocumentRelease object in the docs.djangoproject.com database (this will automatically flip it to False for all others); you can do this using the site’s admin.

  9. Post the release announcement to the django-announce, django-developers, and django-users mailing lists. This should include links to the announcement blog post.


You’re almost done! All that’s left to do now is:

  1. Update the VERSION tuple in django/__init__.py again, incrementing to whatever the next expected release will be. For example, after releasing 1.5.1, update VERSION to VERSION = (1, 5, 2, 'alpha', 0).
  2. Add the release in Trac’s versions list if necessary (and make it the default if it’s a final release). Not all versions are declared; take example on previous releases.
  3. If this was a security release, update Archive of security issues with details of the issues addressed.

New stable branch tasks

There are several items to do in the time following a the creation of a new stable branch (often following an alpha release). Some of these tasks don’t need to be done by the releaser.

  1. Create a new DocumentRelease object in the docs.djangoproject.com database for the new version’s docs, and update the docs/fixtures/doc_releases.json JSON fixture, so people without access to the production DB can still run an up-to-date copy of the docs site.
  2. Create a stub release note for the new major version. Use the stub from the previous major version or use the previous major version and delete most of the contents leaving only section headings.
  3. Increase the default PBKDF2 iterations in django.contrib.auth.hashers.PBKDF2PasswordHasher by about 20% (pick a round number). Run the tests, and update the 3 failing hasher tests with the new values. Make sure this gets noted in the release notes (see the 1.8 release notes for an example).
  4. Remove features that have reached the end of their deprecation cycle. Each removal should be done in a separate commit for clarity. In the commit message, add a “refs #XXXX” to the original ticket where the deprecation began if possible.
  5. Remove .. versionadded::, .. versionadded::, and .. deprecated:: annotations in the documentation from two releases ago. For example, in Django 1.9, notes for 1.7 will be removed.

Notes on setting the VERSION tuple

Django’s version reporting is controlled by the VERSION tuple in django/__init__.py. This is a five-element tuple, whose elements are:

  1. Major version.
  2. Minor version.
  3. Micro version.
  4. Status – can be one of “alpha”, “beta”, “rc” or “final”.
  5. Series number, for alpha/beta/RC packages which run in sequence (allowing, for example, “beta 1”, “beta 2”, etc.).

For a final release, the status is always “final” and the series number is always 0. A series number of 0 with an “alpha” status will be reported as “pre-alpha”.

Some examples:

  • (1, 2, 1, 'final', 0) → “1.2.1”
  • (1, 3, 0, 'alpha', 0) → “1.3 pre-alpha”
  • (1, 3, 0, 'beta', 2) → “1.3 beta 2”
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