NEW: Get project updates onTwitterandMastodon

Release Process

This document aims to outline the process that should be followed for cutting a new release of cert-manager. If you would like to know more about current releases and the timeline for future releases, take a look at the Supported Releases page.


⛔️ Do not proceed with the release process if you do not meet all of the following conditions:

  1. The relevant testgrid dashboard should not be failing for the release you're trying to perform.

  2. The release process takes about 40 minutes. You must have time to complete all the steps.

  3. You currently need to be at Jetstack to get the required GitHub and GCP permissions. (we'd like contributors outside Jetstack to be able to get access; if that's of interest to you, please let us know).

  4. You need to have the GitHub admin permission on the cert-manager project. To check that you have the admin role, run:

    brew install gh
    gh auth login
    gh api /repos/cert-manager/cert-manager/collaborators/$(gh api /user | jq -r .login)/permission | jq .permission

    If your permission is admin, then you are good to go. To request the admin permission on the cert-manager project, open a PR with a link to here.

  5. You need to be added as an "Editor" to the GCP project cert-manager-release. To check if you do have access, try opening the Cloud Build page. To get the "Editor" permission on the GCP project, open a PR with your name added to the maintainers list in

    --- a/
    +++ b/
    @@ -17,6 +17,7 @@ locals {
    + var.personal_email["mael-valais"],

    You may use the following PR description:

    Title: Access to the cert-manager-release GCP project
    Hi. As stated in "Prerequisites" on the [release-process][1] page,
    I need access to the [cert-manager-release][2] project on GCP in
    order to perform the release process. Thanks!

This guide applies for versions of cert-manager released using make, which should be every version from cert-manager 1.8 and later.

If you need to release a version of cert-manager 1.7 or earlier see older releases.

First, ensure that you have all the tools required to perform a cert-manager release:

  1. Install the release-notes CLI:

    go install
  2. Install our cmrel CLI:

    go install
  3. Clone the cert-manager/release repo:

    # Don't clone it from inside the cert-manager repo folder.
    git clone
    cd release
  4. Install the gcloud CLI.

  5. Login to gcloud:

    gcloud auth application-default login
  6. Make sure gcloud points to the cert-manager-release project:

    gcloud config set project cert-manager-release
    export CLOUDSDK_CORE_PROJECT=cert-manager-release # this is used by cmrel
  7. Get a GitHub access token here with no scope ticked. It is used only by the release-notes CLI to avoid API rate limiting since it will go through all the PRs one by one.

Minor releases

A minor release is a backwards-compatible 'feature' release. It can contain new features and bug fixes.

Release schedule

We aim to cut a new minor release once per month. The rough goals for each release are outlined as part of a GitHub milestone. We cut a release even if some of these goals are missed, in order to keep up release velocity.

Process for releasing a version

🔰 Please click on the Edit this page button on the top-right corner of this page if a step is missing or if it is outdated.

  1. Make sure to note which type of release you are doing. That will be helpful in the next steps.

    Type of releaseExample of git tag
    initial alpha releasev1.3.0-alpha.0
    subsequent alpha releasev1.3.0-alpha.1
    initial beta releasev1.3.0-beta.0
    subsequent beta releasev1.3.0-beta.1
    final releasev1.3.0
    (optional) patch pre-release1v1.3.1-beta.0
    patch release (or "point release")v1.3.1
  1. (final release only) Make sure that a PR with the new upgrade document is ready to be merged on cert-manager/website. See for example, see upgrading-1.0-1.1.

  2. Check that the origin remote is correct. To do that, run the following command and make sure it returns the upstream

    # Must be run from the cert-manager repo folder.
    git remote -v | grep origin

    It should show:

    origin (fetch)
    origin (push)
  3. Place yourself on the correct branch:

    • (initial alpha and subsequent alpha): place yourself on the master branch:

      git checkout master
      git pull origin master
    • (initial beta only) The release branch doesn't exist yet, so let's create it and push it:

      # Must be run from the cert-manager repo folder.
      git checkout master
      git pull origin master
      git checkout -b release-1.12 master
      git push origin release-1.12

      GitHub permissions: git push will only work if you have the admin GitHub permission on the cert-manager repo to create or push to the branch, see prerequisites. If you do not have this permission, you will have to open a PR to merge master into the release branch), and wait for the PR checks to become green.

    • (subsequent beta, patch release and final release): place yourself on the release branch:

      git checkout release-1.12
      git pull origin release-1.12

      You don't need to fast-forward the branch because things have been merged using /cherry-pick release-1.0.

      Note about the code freeze:

      The first beta starts a new "code freeze" period that lasts until the final release. Just before the code freeze, we fast-forward everything from master into the release branch.

      During the code freeze, we continue merging PRs into master as usual.

      We don't fast-forward master into the release branch for the second (and subsequent) beta, and only /cherry-pick release-1.0 the fixes that should be part of the subsequent beta.

      We don't fast-forward for patch releases and final releases; instead, we prepare these releases using the /cherry-pick release-1.0 command.

    Note about branch protection: The release branches are protected by GitHub branch protection, which is configured automatically by Prow. This prevents anyone accidentally pushing changes directly to these branches, even repository administrators. If you need, for some reason, to fast forward the release branch, you should delete the branch protection for that release branch, using the GitHub branch protection web UI. This is only a temporary change to allow you to update the branch. Prow will re-apply the branch protection within 24 hours.

  4. Create the tag for the new release locally and push it upstream:

    # be sure to push the named tag explicitly; you don't want to push any other local tags!
    git push origin $RELEASE_VERSION

    GitHub permissions: git push will only work if you have the admin GitHub permission on the cert-manager repo to create or push to the branch, see prerequisites. If you do not have this permission, you will have to open a PR to merge master into the release branch), and wait for the PR checks to become green.

  5. Generate and edit the release notes:

    1. Use the following two tables to understand how to fill in the four environment variables needed for the next step. These four environment variables are documented on the README for the Kubernetes release-notes tool.

      RELEASE_VERSIONThe git tag
      START_TAG*The git tag of the "previous"* release
      END_REVName of your release branch (inclusive)
      BRANCHName of your release branch

      Examples for each release type (e.g., initial alpha release):

      VariableExample 1Example 2Example 2Example 3Example 4
      initial alphasubsequent alphabeta releasefinal releasepatch release

      *The git tag of the "previous" release (START_TAG) depends on which type of release you count on doing. Look at the above examples to understand a bit more what those are.

      **Do not use a patch here (e.g., no v1.2.3). It must be v1.2.0: you must use the latest tag that belongs to the release branch you are releasing on; in the above example, the release branch is release-1.3, and the latest tag on that branch is v1.2.0.

      After finding out the value for each of the 4 environment variables, set the variables in your shell (for example, following the example 1):

      export RELEASE_VERSION="v1.3.0-alpha.0"
      export START_TAG="v1.2.0"
      export END_REV="release-1.3"
      export BRANCH="release-1.3"
    2. Generate at the root of your cert-manager repo folder with the following command:

      # Must be run from the cert-manager folder.
      export GITHUB_TOKEN=*your-token*
      git fetch origin $BRANCH
      export START_SHA="$(git rev-list --reverse --ancestry-path $(git merge-base $START_TAG $BRANCH)..$BRANCH | head -1)"
      release-notes --debug --repo-path cert-manager \
      --org cert-manager --repo cert-manager \
      --required-author "jetstack-bot" \

      The GitHub token does not need any scope. The token is required only to avoid rate-limits imposed on anonymous API users.

    3. Sanity check the notes:

      • Make sure the notes contain details of all the features and bug fixes that you expect to be in the release.
      • Add additional blurb, notable items and characterize change log.

      You can see the commits that will go into this release by using the GitHub compare. For example, while releasing v1.0.0, you want to compare it with the latest pre-released version v1.0.0-beta.1:
    4. (final release only) Check the release notes include all changes since the last final release.

  6. Run cmrel makestage:

    1. In this example we stage a release using the v1.8.0-beta.0 git ref:

      # Must be run from the "cert-manager/release" repo folder.
      cmrel makestage --ref=$RELEASE_VERSION

      This step takes ~5 minutes. It will build all container images and create all the manifest files, sign Helm charts and upload everything to a storage bucket on Google Cloud. These artifacts will then be published and released in the next steps.

    2. While the build is running, send a first Slack message to #cert-manager-dev:

      Releasing 1.2.0-alpha.2 🧵

      🔰 Please have a quick look at the build log as it might contain some unredacted data that we forgot to redact. We try to make sure the sensitive data is properly redacted but sometimes we forget to update this.

    3. Send a second Slack message in reply to this first message with the Cloud Build job link that cmrel displayed in "View logs at". For example, the message would look like:

  7. Run cmrel publish:

    1. Do a cmrel publish dry-run to ensure that all the staged resources are valid. Run the following command:

      # Must be run from the "cert-manager/release" repo folder.
      cmrel publish --release-name "$RELEASE_VERSION"

      You can view the progress by clicking the Google Cloud Build URL in the output of this command.

    2. While the build is running, send a third Slack message in reply to the first message:

    3. Now publish the release artifacts for real. The following command will publish the artifacts to GitHub, and to our helm chart repository:

      # Must be run from the "cert-manager/release" repo folder.
      cmrel publish --nomock --release-name "$RELEASE_VERSION"
    1. While the build is running, send a fourth Slack message in reply to the first message:

  8. Publish the GitHub release:

    1. Visit the draft GitHub release and paste in the release notes that you generated earlier. You will need to manually edit the content to match the style of earlier releases. In particular, remember to remove package-related changes.

    2. (initial alpha, subsequent alpha and beta only) Tick the box "This is a pre-release".

    3. (final release and patch release) Tick the box "Set as the latest release".

    4. Click "Publish" to make the GitHub release live.

  9. Merge the pull request containing the Helm chart:

The Helm charts for cert-manager are served using Cloudflare pages and the Helm chart files and metadata are stored in the Jetstack charts repository. The cmrel publish --nomock step (above) will have created a PR in this repository which you now have to review and merge, as follows:

  1. Visit the pull request

  2. Review the changes

  3. Fix any failing checks

  4. Merge the PR

  5. Check that the cert-manager Helm chart is visible on ArtifactHUB.

  6. (final release only) Add the new final release to the supported-releases page.

  7. Open a PR for a Homebrew formula update for cmctl.

    Assuming you have brew installed, you can use the brew bump-formula-pr command to do this. You'll need the new tag name and the commit hash of that tag. See brew bump-formula-pr --help for up to date details, but the command will be of the form:

    brew bump-formula-pr --dry-run --tag v0.10.0 --revision da3265115bfd8be5780801cc6105fa857ef71965 cmctl

    Replacing the tag and revision with the new ones.

    This will take time for the Homebrew team to review. Once the pull reqeust against has been opened, continue with further release steps.

  8. Post a Slack message as an answer to the first message. Toggle the check box "Also send to #cert-manager-dev" so that the message is well visible. Also cross-post the message on #cert-manager.

  9. (final release only) Show the release to the world:

    1. Send an email to with the release label (examples).

    2. Send a tweet on the cert-manager Twitter account! Login details are in Jetstack's 1password (for now). (Example tweet). Make sure @JetstackHQ retweets it!

    3. Send a toot from the cert-manager Mastodon account! Login details are in Jetstack's 1password (for now). (Example toot)

  10. Proceed to the post-release steps:

    1. (initial beta only) Create a PR on cert-manager/release in order to add the new release to our list of periodic ProwJobs. Use this PR as an example.

    2. (initial beta only) Run cmrel generate-prow --branch='*' -o file with the new version from the previous step and open a PR to cert-manager/testing adding the generated prow configs. Use this PR as an example.

    3. If needed, open a PR to cert-manager/website in order to:

      • Update the section "How we determine supported Kubernetes versions" on the supported-releases page.
      • Add any new release notes, if needed.
    4. (final release only) Create a PR on cert-manager/release, removing the now unsupported release version (2 versions back) in this file:


      This will remove the periodic ProwJobs for this version as they're no longer needed.

    5. (final release only) Run cmrel generate-prow --branch='*' -o file with the new version from the previous step and open a PR to jetstack/testing adding the generated prow configs.

    6. (final release only) Open a PR to jetstack/testing and update the milestone_applier config so that newly raised PRs on master are applied to a new milestone for the next release. E.g. if master currently points at the v1.10 milestone, change it to point at v1.11.

      If the milestone for the next release doesn't exist, create it first. If you consider the milestone for the version you just released to be complete, close it.

    7. (final release only) Open a PR to cert-manager/website in order to:

      • Update the section "Supported releases" in the supported-releases page.
      • Update the section "How we determine supported Kubernetes versions" on the supported-releases page. In the table, set "n/a" for the line where "next periodic" is since these tests will be disabled until we do our first alpha.
      • Update the API docs and CLI docs by running scripts/gendocs/generate and commit any changes to a branch and create a PR to merge those into master or release-next depending on whether this is a minor or patch release.
    8. Ensure that any installation commands in cert-manager/website install the latest version. This should be done after every release, including patch releases as we want to encourage users to always install the latest patch. In addition, ensure that release notes for the latest version are added.

    9. Open a PR against the Krew index such as this one, bumping the versions of our kubectl plugins. This is likely only worthwhile if cmctl / kubectl plugin functionality has changed significantly or after the first release of a new major version.

    10. Create a new OLM package and publish to OperatorHub

    cert-manager can be installed using Operator Lifecycle Manager (OLM) so we need to create OLM packages for each cert-manager version and publish them to both and the equivalent package index for RedHat OpenShift.

    Follow the cert-manager OLM release process and, once published, verify that the cert-manager OLM installation instructions still work.

Older Releases

The above guide only applies for versions of cert-manager from v1.8 and newer.

Older versions were built using Bazel and this difference in build process is reflected in the release process.

cert-manager 1.6 and 1.7

Follow this older version of the release process on GitHub, rather than the guide on this website.

The most notable difference is you'll call cmrel stage rather than cmrel makestage. You should be fine to use the latest version of cmrel to do the release.

cert-manager 1.5 and earlier

If you're releasing version 1.5 or earlier you must also be sure to install a different version of cmrel.

In the step where you install cmrel, you'll want to run the following instead:

go install

This will ensure that the version of cmrel you're using is compatible with the version of cert-manager you're releasing.

In addition, when you check out the cert-manager/release repository you should be sure to check out the cert-manager-pre-1.6 tag in that repo:

git checkout cert-manager-pre-1.6

Other than the different cert-manager/release tag and cmrel version, you can follow the same older release documentation as is used for 1.6 and 1.7 - just remember to change the version of cmrel you install!


  1. One or more "patch pre-releases" may be created to allow voluntary community testing of a bug fix or security fix before the fix is made generally available. The suffix -beta must be used for patch pre-releases.