Zulip server release checklist

This document has reminders of things one might forget to do when preparing a new release.

A week before the release

  • For a major release (e.g. 4.0):

    • Upgrade all Python dependencies in requirements to latest upstream versions so they can burn in (use pip list --outdated).

    • Update all the strings on Transifex and notify translators that they should translate the new strings to get them in for the next release.

  • Create a burn-down list of bugs that need to be fixed before we can release, and make sure all of them are being worked on.

  • Draft the release blog post (a.k.a. the release notes) in Paper. In it, list the important changes in the release, from most to least notable.

Final release preparation

  • Update the Paper blog post draft with any new commits.

  • Except minor releases: Download updated translation strings from Transifex and commit them.

  • Use build-release-tarball to generate a release tarball.

  • Test the new tarball extensively, both new install and upgrade from last release, on both Bionic and Focal.

  • Repeat until release is ready.

  • Send around the Paper blog post draft for review.

  • Move the blog post draft to Ghost. (For a draft in Dropbox Paper, use “··· > Export > Markdown” to get a pretty good markup conversion.) Proofread the post, especially for formatting. Tag the post with “Release announcements” in Ghost.

Executing the release

  • Create the release commit, on master (for major releases) or on the release branch (for minor releases):

    • Copy the Markdown release notes for the release into docs/overview/changelog.md.

    • Update ZULIP_VERSION and LATEST_RELEASE_VERSION in version.py.

    • Except minor releases: Update API_FEATURE_LEVEL to a feature level for the final release, and document a reserved range.

  • Tag that commit with an unsigned Git tag named the release number.

  • Use build-release-tarball to generate a final release tarball.

  • Push the tag and release commit.

  • Copy the tarball to zulip.org, and run /etc/zulip/ship-release.sh on it; this will put it in place, update the latest symlink, and update the SHA256 sums.

  • Post the release by editing the latest tag on GitHub; use the text from changelog.md for the release notes.

  • Update the Docker image and do a release of that.

  • Update the image of DigitalOcean one click app using Fabric and publish it to DO marketplace.

  • Publish the blog post; check the box to “send by email.”

  • Email zulip-announce, post to #announce, and send a tweet.


  • Following a major release (e.g. 4.0):

    • Create a release branch (e.g. 4.x).

    • On the release branch, update ZULIP_VERSION in version.py to the present release with a +git suffix, e.g. 4.0+git.

    • On master, update ZULIP_VERSION to the future major release with a -dev+git suffix, e.g. 5.0-dev+git. Make a Git tag for this update commit with a -dev suffix, e.g. 5.0-dev.

  • Following a minor release (e.g. 3.2):

    • On the release branch, update ZULIP_VERSION to the present release with a +git suffix, e.g. 3.2+git.

    • Cherry-pick the changelog changes back to master.

  • Consider removing a few old releases from ReadTheDocs; we keep about two years of back-versions.