Tool to help GAP package authors with the process of making new releases of their packages
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ReleaseTools for GAP packages

The scripts in this repository along with this README are meant to help GAP package authors with the process of making new releases of their packages. The problem with making releases is that it is quite easy to forget steps, which can cause a lot of extra work if you later need to correct that. Moreover, if one only makes a release once a year, it is easy to forget how this works -- making the release process an often unwelcome and tiresome process.

The goal of this document and the tools shipped with it is to help GAP package authors to automate this process as much as possible, so that making a fresh release of a package becomes a quick and painless undertaking.

These tools are focused on making releases for packages hosted on GitHub, and which are using the GitHub release system as well as GitHub pages for the package homepage.


The release script should run on any POSIX compatible system, provided the following tools are available:

  • curl
  • git
  • Python 2.6 or later
  • BSD or GNU tar (for creating .tar.gz and .tar.bz2 archives)
  • zip (for creating .zip archives)

In addition, you also need a recent version of GAP (4.7.8 or later should do it). By default the release script assumes that there is a gap executable in your PATH. If this is not the case, or if you want release to use another GAP executable, you can do so via the GAP environment variable.

For example, you could invoke release like this:

GAP=/home/john_smith/gap/bin/  ../ReleaseTools/release

Your package must also be hosted on GitHub.

Finally, you need a GitHub access token, which the script uses to authenticate with GitHub, so that it gets permission to upload files for you. For details, please read section "GitHub access token" later in this README.

Initial setup

The following steps should be performed once on your package repository. After that, you can follow the instructions in the next section to make a release.

  1. Setup GitHubPagesForGAP for your package, as described in its README.

  2. Adjust your PackageInfo.g file to use GitHub. This may require adjusting PackageWWWHome, README_URL, PackageInfoURL, ArchiveURL. An easy way to do that is to use the following in your PackageInfo.g. It assumes that your package name is equal to the repository name; note that case matters. Also, you may have to replace "gap-packages" by your username (the generated URLs must match the URL of your package's repository).

    SourceRepository := rec(
        Type := "git",
        URL := Concatenation( "", ~.PackageName ),
    IssueTrackerURL := Concatenation( ~.SourceRepository.URL, "/issues" ),
    PackageWWWHome  := Concatenation( "", ~.PackageName ),
    README_URL      := Concatenation( ~.PackageWWWHome, "/README" ),
    PackageInfoURL  := Concatenation( ~.PackageWWWHome, "/PackageInfo.g" ),
    ArchiveURL      := Concatenation( ~.SourceRepository.URL,
                                     "/releases/download/v", ~.Version,
                                     "/", ~.PackageName, "-", ~.Version ),
  3. Update your README, your package manual etc. to use the correct URLs.

  4. Provide a makedoc.g GAP file which regenerates your package manual. If you are using GAPDoc, often the AutoDoc package provides an easy way for doing this, as in the following example:

    if fail = LoadPackage("AutoDoc", "2016.02.16") then
        Error("AutoDoc version 2016.02.16 or newer is required.");

    As a fallback, we also looks for a doc/make_doc executable. If found, we assume the package is not using GAPDoc, but rather still uses a manual based on the gapmacro TeX macros. We then execute the make_doc script from inside the doc directory, and copy relevant files.

The release process

Suppose we want to release version 1.2.3 of a package named FOOBAR. Suppose furthermore that directory foo contains a clone of the repository.

In order to make a release, you can follow the steps below. Note that this assumes that gap is in your PATH, i.e. it can be invoked by just entering gap. Alternatively, before running the release tool you can set the GAP environment variable to contain the full path to your GAP executable

  1. Make sure we are on the right branch and have the latest version.

    cd foo && git checkout master && git pull

    You should also verify that there are no uncommitted local changes, and if there are, either commit them or remove them.

  2. Make sure there is a gh-pages subdirectory which contains an up-to-date checkout of the gh-pages branch of your repository.

    Power users with a recent git version (2.7.0 or later) can also use git worktree to create the gh-pages subdirectory.

  3. Update the version and release date in PackageInfo.g.

  4. Adjust the release date and version in your manual. Note that AutoDoc can do this automatically for you (please consult its manual to learn more).

  5. Make sure that any files containing the version and release date are updated (e.g. the manual; your CHANGES or VERSION files, etc.).

  6. Commit all your changes to PackageInfo.g, VERSION, documentation, etc., e.g.:

    git commit --all -m "Version 1.2.3"
  7. Create the release using the release script included here:


    If this does not work, please refer to the section discussing release.

  8. Verify that everything went fine by visiting and

    In particular, test the release archives created by the previous step. If you are unhappy with the outcome, or for some other reason decide that you need more changes, do these and go back and repeat previous steps as necessary (in step 8, you now need to pass "--force" to the release tool)

  9. Update the website:

    cd gh-pages && git push

    Note that release will also do this for you if you call it with the --push option.

That's it. You should now be able to see the new version on and also be able to view the manual there, download the new version etc. Moreover should be up-to-date. So if the GAP server already has this registered as location of your PackageInfo.g, it should now automatically detect that you made a release, and pull it into the next GAP package bundle.

The release script

The release script helps you create release archives of your GAP package in a clean and controlled way, and publish them on GitHub.

Again, we assume you are working on version 1.2.3 or package FOOBAR.

Invoking the release script

You normally invoke release as follows from inside a clone of your package repository:


This scans your PackageInfo.g for the package name and version, and uses that to guess the release tag.

  • -t, --tag: By default, the script assumes that you tagged your release with a tag named vVERSION (so v1.2.3 in our example). If you prefer to use other tag names, you can specify this as parameter, e.g.

    PATH/TO/ReleaseTools/release --tag VER-1-2-3

    Note that the release tool will attempt to verify your tag by checking it against the ArchiveURL in your PackageInfo.g.

  • --token: Set the GitHub token to use. For details, refer to section "GitHub access token" in this README.

  • -r, --repository: TODO

  • -p, --push: TODO

  • -f, --force: TODO

  • --srcdir: TODO

  • --webdir: TODO

  • --tmpdir: TODO

What it does

The release script does multiple things for you:

  1. It creates archive files in a subdirectory tmp of the current directory. For now, it knows how to create .tar.gz, .tar.bz2 and .zip files. Which it creates depends on the ArchiveFormats field of your PackageInfo.g.

    The files by default are tmp/PACKAGENAME-VERSION.tar.gz etc., so in our example we would get

    • tmp/FOOBAR-1.2.3.tar.gz
    • tmp/FOOBAR-1.2.3.tar.bz2
    • tmp/

    However, the script also look at the ArchiveURL field of your PackageInfo.g to decide if a different basename was chosen. So if you prefer the archives to be called

    • tmp/foobar-1.2.3.tar.gz
    • tmp/foobar-1.2.3.tar.bz2
    • tmp/

    then you can achieve this by editing your PackageInfo.g.

    To create these archives, release uses git archive to export precisely the files in your repository present in the commit tagged v1.2.3. This ensures that only files that are present in your repository will be added, no more, no less; and that no stray local changes are included by accident.

    After exporting all files, a few more steps are performed: a. It removes any .gitignore, .gitmodules files. b. If a script is present, it is executed. c. If a file makedoc.g is present, it is executed. Various files like doc/*.aux are removed afterwards. d. Otherwise, if a file doc/make_doc is present, it is executed. Various files like doc/*.aux are removed afterwards.

  2. It uploads the created files to GitHub for you.

    TODO: Describe details

  3. It updates various files in the gh-pages subdirectory to help you with updating the website. In particular, it copies the PackageInfo.g and README to gh-pages, and also copies the HTML version of the manual it just built for the release archives to gh-pages/doc. Finally, it runs the update.g script to regenerate gh-pages/_data/package.yml.

GitHub access token

The release script needs limited write access to your repository in order to upload the release archives for you. In order to do this, the scripts needs to authenticate itself with GitHub, for which it needs a so-called "personal access token". You can generate such a token as follows (see also

  1. Go to

  2. Click Generate new token.

  3. Select the scope "public_repo", and give your token a descriptive name.

  4. Click Generate token at the bottom of the page.

  5. Copy the token to your clipboard. For security reasons, after you navigate off the page, you will not be able to see the token again. You therefore should store it somewhere, e.g. with option 3 in the following list.

There are multiple ways to tell the release script what your token is. In order of their precedence (from highest to lowest), these are:

  1. Use the --token command line option:

    ./release --token VALUE ...
  2. Set the environment variable TOKEN to the token value. This is mainly useful in scripts. E.g.

    TOKEN=VALUE ./release ...
  3. Add the token to your git config, by setting github.token. As usual with git config entries, you can set this globally in your ~/.gitconfig or locally for each clone (which can be handy if you need different tokens for different projects). You can set the token via the following commands:

    git config github.token VALUE           # for the current project
    git config --global github.token VALUE  # globally

    For details, please refer to git help config.

  4. Create a file ~/.github_shell_token containing your token and nothing else. If you do this, make sure this file is not readable by other users, i.e., run chmod 0600 ~/.github_shell_token


Please submit bug reports, suggestions for improvements and patches via the issue tracker.

You can also contact me directly via email.

Copyright (c) 2013-2017 Max Horn