Release Guide

This document is only relevant for Matplotlib release managers.

A guide for developers who are doing a Matplotlib release.


This assumes that a read-only remote for the canonical repository is remote and a read/write remote is DANGER


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

pytest -n 8 .

In addition the following test should be run and manually inspected:

python tools/ agg 1000 agg.pdf

In addition the following should be run and manually inspected, but is currently broken:

pushd examples/tests/

GitHub Stats

We automatically extract GitHub issue, PRs, and authors from GitHub via the API. Copy the current doc/users/github_stats.rst to doc/users/prev_whats_new/github_stats_X.Y.Z.rst, changing the link target at the top of the file, and removing the "Previous GitHub Stats" section at the end.

For example, when updating from v3.2.0 to v3.2.1:

cp doc/users/github_stats.rst doc/users/prev_whats_new/github_stats_3.2.0.rst
$EDITOR doc/users/prev_whats_new/github_stats_3.2.0.rst
# Change contents as noted above.
git add doc/users/prev_whats_new/github_stats_3.2.0.rst

Then re-generate the updated stats:

python tools/ --since-tag v3.2.0 --milestone=v3.2.1 --project 'matplotlib/matplotlib' --links > doc/users/github_stats.rst

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


Make sure you authenticate against the GitHub API. If you do not you will get blocked by GitHub for going over the API rate limits. You can authenticate in one of two ways:

  • using the keyring package; pip install keyring and then when running the stats script, you will be prompted for user name and password, that will be stored in your system keyring, or,
  • using a personal access token; generate a new token on this GitHub page with the repo:public_repo scope and place the token in ~/.ghoauth.

Update and Validate the Docs

Merge *-doc branch

Merge the most recent 'doc' branch (e.g., v3.2.0-doc) into the branch you are going to tag on and delete the doc branch on GitHub.

Update supported versions in Security Policy

When making major or minor releases, update the supported versions in the Security Policy in Commonly, this may be one or two previous minor releases, but is dependent on release managers.

Update "What's New" and "API changes"

Before tagging major and minor releases, the "what's new" and "API changes" listings should be updated. This is not needed for micro releases.

For the "what's new",

  1. copy the current content to a file in doc/users/prev_whats_new
  2. merge all of the files in doc/users/next_whats_new/ into doc/users/whats_new.rst and delete the individual files
  3. comment out the next what's new glob at the top

Similarly for the "API changes",

  1. copy the current api changes to a file is doc/api/prev_api_changes
  2. merge all of the files in the most recent doc/api/next_api_changes into doc/api/api_changes.rst
  3. comment out the most recent API changes at the top.

In both cases step 3 will have to be un-done right after the release.

Verify that docs build

Finally, make sure that the docs build cleanly

make -Cdoc O=-j$(nproc) html latexpdf

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 Circle CI, 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.

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

Finally, push the tag to GitHub:

git push DANGER master v2.0.0

Congratulations, the scariest part is done!


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 from this branch):

git branch v2.0.x

On this branch un-comment the globs from Update and Validate the Docs. And then

git push DANGER v2.0.x

Release Management / DOI

Via the GitHub UI, 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 the DOI from zenodo (which will automatically produce one once the tag is pushed). Add the doi post-fix and version to the dictionary in tools/ and run the script.

This will download the new svg to the _static directory in the docs and edit doc/citing.rst. Commit the new svg, the change to tools/, and the changes to doc/citing.rst to the VER-doc branch and push to GitHub.

git checkout v2.0.0-doc
$EDITOR tools/
python tools/
$EDITOR doc/citing.html
git commit -a
git push DANGER v2.0.0-doc:v2.0.0-doc

Building binaries

We distribute macOS, Windows, and many Linux wheels as well as a source tarball via PyPI. Most builders should trigger automatically once the tag is pushed to GitHub:

  • Windows, macOS and manylinux wheels are built on GitHub Actions. Builds are triggered by the GitHub Action defined in .github/workflows/cibuildwheel.yml, and wheels will be available as artifacts of the build.
  • Alternative Windows wheels are built by Christoph Gohlke automatically and will be available at his site once built.
  • The auto-tick bot should open a pull request into the conda-forge feedstock. Review and merge (if you have the power to).


Because this is automated, it is extremely important to bump all branches away from the tag as discussed in Create release commit and tag.

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

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

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

Make distribution and upload to PyPI

Once you have collected all of the wheels (expect this to take about a day), generate the tarball

git checkout v2.0.0
git clean -xfd
python sdist

and copy all of the wheels into dist directory. First, check that the dist files are OK

twine check dist/*

and then 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!

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 requirements/doc/doc-requirements.txt
git checkout v2.0.0-doc
git clean -xfd
make -Cdoc O="-Ainclude_analytics=True -j$(nproc)" html latexpdf LATEXMKOPTS="-silent -f"

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 is built on Circle CI and pushed 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, link the stable subdirectory to the newest version:

rsync -a 2.0.0/* ./
rm stable
ln -s 2.0.0/ stable

You will need to manually edit versions.html to show the last 3 tagged versions. You will also need to edit sitemap.xml to include the newly released version. 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!

If you have access, clear the Cloudflare caches.

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/scikit-image mailing lists.

In addition, announcements should be made on social networks (twitter via the @matplotlib account, any other via personal accounts). NumFOCUS should be contacted for inclusion in their newsletter.

Conda packages

The Matplotlib project itself does not release conda packages. In particular, the Matplotlib release manager is not responsible for conda packaging.

For information on the packaging of Matplotlib for conda-forge see