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Release Guide

A guide for developers who are doing a matplotlib release.

All Releases


We use travis-ci for continuous integration. When preparing for a release, the final tagged commit should be tested locally before it is uploaded:

python --processes=8 --process-timeout=300

In addition the following two tests should be run and manually inspected:

python unit/
pushd examples/tests/

GitHub Stats

We automatically extract GitHub issue, PRs, and authors from GitHub via the API:

python tools/ --since-tag $TAG --project 'matplotlib/matplotlib' --links > doc/users/github_stats.rst

Review and commit changes. Some issue/PR titles may not be valid rst (the most common issue is * which is interpreted as unclosed markup).

Check Docs

Before tagging, update the what’s new listing in doc/users/whats_new.rst by merging all files in doc/users/next_whats_new/ coherently. Also, temporarily comment out the include and toctree glob; re-instate these after a release. Finally, make sure that the docs build cleanly

pushd doc
python html latex -n 16

After the docs are built, check that all of the links, internal and external, are still valid. We use linkchecker for this, which has not been ported to python3 yet. You will need to create a python2 environment with requests==2.9.0 and linkchecker

conda create -p /tmp/lnkchk python=2 requests==2.9.0
source activate /tmp/lnkchk
pip install linkchecker
pushd doc/build/html
linkchecker index.html --check-extern

Address any issues which may arise. The internal links are checked on travis, this should only flag failed external links.

Create release commit and tag

To create the tag, first create an empty commit with a very terse set of the release notes in the commit message

git commit --allow-empty

and then create a signed, annotated tag with the same text in the body message

git tag -a -s v2.0.0

which will prompt you for your gpg key password and an annotation. For pre releases it is important to follow PEP 440 so that the build artifacts will sort correctly in pypi. Finally, push the tag to GitHub

git push -t DANGER v2.0.0

Congratulations, the scariest part is done!

To prevent issues with any down-stream builders which download the tarball from GitHub it is important to move all branches away from the commit with the tag [1]:

git commit --allow-empty
git push DANGER master

The tarball that is provided by GitHub is produced using git archive. We use versioneer which uses a format string in lib/matplotlib/ to have git insert a list of references to exported commit (see .gitattributes for the configuration). This string is then used by versioneer to produce the correct version, based on the git tag, when users install from the tarball. However, if there is a branch pointed at the tagged commit, then the branch name will also be included in the tarball. When the branch eventually moves, anyone how checked the hash of the tarball before the branch moved will have an incorrect hash.

To generate the file that GitHub does use

git archive v2.0.0 -o matplotlib-2.0.0.tar.gz --prefix=matplotlib-2.0.0/

If this is a final release, also create a ‘doc’ branch (this is not done for pre-releases):

git branch v2.0.0-doc
git push DANGER v2.0.0-doc

and if this is a major or minor release, also create a bug-fix branch (a micro release will be cut off of this branch):

git branch v2.0.x
git push DANGER v2.0.x

Release Management / DOI

Via the GitHub UI (chase down link), turn the newly pushed tag into a release. If this is a pre-release remember to mark it as such.

For final releases also get a DOI from zenodo and edit doc/_templates/citing.html with DOI link and commit to the VER-doc branch and push to GitHub

git checkout v2.0.0-doc
emacs doc/_templates/citing.html
git push DANGER v2.0.0-doc:v2.0.0-doc

Building binaries

We distribute mac, windows, and many linux wheels as well as a source tarball via pypi. Before uploading anything, contact the various builders. Mac and manylinux wheels are built on travis . You need to edit the .travis.yml file and push to master of the build project.

Update the master branch (for pre-releases the devel branch) of the conda-forge feedstock via pull request.

If this is a final release the following downstream packagers should be contacted:

  • Debian
  • Fedora
  • Arch
  • Gentoo
  • Macports
  • Homebrew
  • Christoph Gohlke
  • Continuum
  • Enthought

This can be done ahead of collecting all of the binaries and uploading to pypi.

make distribution and upload to pypi / SF

Once you have collected all of the wheels, generate the tarball

git checkout v2.0.0
git clean -xfd
python sdist

and copy all of the wheels into dist directory. You should use twine to upload all of the files to pypi

twine upload -s dist/matplotlib*tar.gz
twine upload dist/*whl

Congratulations, you have now done the second scariest part!

Additionally, for a final release, upload all of the files to sourceforge.

Build and Deploy Documentation

To build the documentation you must have the tagged version installed, but build the docs from the ver-doc branch. An easy way to arrange this is:

pip install matplotlib
pip install -r doc-requirements.txt
git checkout v2.0.0-doc
git clean -xfd
cd doc
python html latex -n 16

which will build both the html and pdf version of the documentation.

The built documentation exists in the repository. Pushing changes to master automatically updates the website.

The documentation is organized by version. At the root of the tree is always the documentation for the latest stable release. Under that, there are directories containing the documentation for older versions. The documentation for current master are built on travis and push to the devdocs repository. These are available at

Assuming you have this repository checked out in the same directory as matplotlib

cd ../
mkdir 2.0.0
rsync -a ../matplotlib/doc/build/html/* 2.0.0
cp ../matplotlib/doc/build/latex/Matplotlib.pdf 2.0.0

which will copy the built docs over. If this is a final release, also replace the top-level docs

rsync -a 2.0.0/* ./

You will need to manually edit versions.html to show the last 3 tagged versions. Now commit and push everything to GitHub

git add *
git commit -a -m 'Updating docs for v2.0.0'
git push DANGER master

Congratulations you have now done the third scariest part!

It typically takes about 5-10 minutes for GitHub to process the push and update the live web page (remember to clear your browser cache).


The final step is to announce the release to the world. A short version of the release notes along with acknowledgments should be sent to

For final releases announcements should also be sent to the numpy/scipy/jupyter mailing lists and python-announce.

In addition, announcements should be made on social networks (twitter, g+, FB). For major release, NumFOCUS should be contacted for inclusion in their newsletter and maybe to have something posted on their blog.