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Stable Releases

Date: 2019/01/29


So far, development has been using the simplified git-flow process described in this decision document.

This works well when iterations are very short, and there are only a handful of users. The more users the software is released to, the more stable it should be.


There are two major deficiencies in the current work flow:

  • There is no release or edge branch where new features undergo high-level testing.
  • Features often require simultaneous releases in multiple repositories.

Release / Edge deployment

The purpose of an edge deployment track is to periodically pull a set of new features from develop, and then test those. Apart from the periodic pulls, no new features should be merged into this branch - only bug fixes.

All bug fixes are merged both into this branch, and into develop.

When the change set is sufficiently tested, the code is publicly released, and a new set of features is pulled from develop.

Simultaneous releases

Various repositories have different build times, and occasionally a release build may fail. This would make stable releases very unstable for whomever decided to pull updates in the middle of a software release.

A better approach is to first publish all Docker images to an intermediate tag, and then re-tag and push all images at once. This will not upload any new images to Docker Hub - the layer hashes will be recognized, and simply made available under a new tag.

User perspective

Using this release strategy, the user can choose one of three tracks:

  • develop: new features are immediately available, but will break regularly.
  • edge: new features are available quickly, and in more coherent groups. May contain some bugs.
  • stable: new features are tested, and released together.

Automated triggers

Travis can support this workflow by using two rules for deployment:

Any push to a brewblox repository triggers building Docker images tagged as the branch name Example: a push to edge will result in:

  • brewblox/repository-name:edge
  • brewblox/repository-name:rpi-edge

Pushed Git tags trigger building Docker images tagged as newest-tag, and as the Git tag Example: adding the Git tag 0.2.3 will result in:

  • brewblox/repository-name:0.2.3
  • brewblox/repository-name:newest-tag
  • brewblox/repository-name:rpi-0.2.3
  • brewblox/repository-name:rpi-newest-tag

Manual actions

Using the automated triggers, develop and edge are released automatically. The requirement was for stable to be released together, when all builds triggered by Git tags were successful.

This can be accomplished by a simple bash script, implementing the following logic:

for repo in ${DOCKER_REPOS}; do

    docker pull ${repo}:newest-tag
    docker pull ${repo}:rpi-newest-tag

    docker tag ${repo}:newest-tag ${repo}:stable
    docker tag ${repo}:rpi-newest-tag ${repo}:rpi-stable

    docker push ${repo}:stable
    docker push ${repo}:rpi-stable


Ideally, immediately after releasing stable images, develop is merged into edge to allow testing of a new set of features. Whether this is always relevant in practice remains to be seen: BrewPi is a small company, with more repositories than developers.