11. Operator release process

Date: 2021-09-09




We need to integrate releases of operator to our official release tooling, which is mostly driven by release-tools, so that operator versions can be released as part of official GitLab releases.


The following iterations are proposed to implement an automatic release of operator

  1. A mirror of operator project will be setup in dev.gitlab.org - #286
  2. CI jobs that are relevant for development will be run only on the .com project, while jobs necessary to confirm that we are shipping a working artifact will be run also on the dev mirror.
  3. Release will happen through Git tag pushes, and pipelines caused by them.
  4. Tag pipeline in both .com project and its dev mirror will have two phases - tag and publish.
  5. In .com tag pipeline
    1. Tag phase will perform the steps other than building an artifact and deploying it to a registry. This involves jobs like static analysis, tests that does not require artifacts, etc.
    2. Publish phase will build the artifacts and deploy it to a public registry.
    3. First job of the publish phase will be a blocking manual job, which when played will cause the pipeline to continue automatically and complete the release.
  6. In dev tag pipeline
    1. Tag phase will build and deploy artifacts to an internal registry.
    2. These can be used to verify whether the artifacts we are about to release work as expected. We may eventually add a test infrastructure to dev to automate this testing.
    3. Release phase will have a manual job, which when played will trigger the manual job (part of release phase) in the corresponding tag pipeline in .com project.
  7. For the first iteration and GA release, maintainers will manually perform the following tasks
    1. Update CHART_VERSIONS file.
    2. Create a Git tag and push it to both .com project and the dev mirror.
    3. Verify the operator artifacts created by the dev mirror works as expected.
    4. Once GitLab is released, play the manual job in the dev tag pipeline to complete the release.
    5. Ensure the tag pipeline in .com project completed and the artifacts are available to the users from public registries.
  8. As the next iteration, we will implement the stable branch strategy in operator. This will essentially mean a stable branch will be cut from the default branch towards the end of the milestone (or when a new operator release is required), and tags will be created from that stable branch.
  9. As the next iteration, we will implement an automated way to update the CHART_VERSIONS file.
  10. As the next iteration, we will hand over the tasks to release-tools - #224
  11. Because any version of operator is expected to support latest three minor versions of GitLab Chart, to avoid redundant operator versions, ONLY THE RELEASE OF LATEST STABLE VERSION OF GITLAB CHARTS WILL CAUSE A NEW OPERATOR VERSION TO BE RELEASED AUTOMATICALLY.
    • For example, if a patch release for GitLab Charts 5.4.x, 5.3.x, and 5.2.x is being done, only 5.4.x will cause a new operator release.


  1. For the time being, release will still be manual by maintainers updating CHART_VERSIONS file and creating a Git tag, and then finally playing the manual job to start the release.