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PHP Release Process

A release manager's role includes making packaged source code from the canonical repository available according to the release schedule.

The release schedule for each version is published on the PHP wiki:

The PHP project publishes builds every two weeks.

We publish general availability (GA) releases for major and minor versions of PHP on the fourth Thursday of November each year. Following the GA release, we publish patch-level releases every four weeks, with at least one release candidate (RC) published two weeks before each patch-level release.

Each major and minor version undergoes a 24-week pre-release cycle before GA release. The pre-release cycle begins on the second Thursday of June with the first alpha release of the new major/minor version. The pre-release cycle consists of at least:

  • 3 alpha releases
  • 3 beta releases
  • 6 release candidates

Feature freeze for the next major/minor occurs with the first beta release.

We refer to alpha, beta, and RC as non-stable releases, while GA are stable.

The process of making packaged source available and announcing availability is explained in detail below. The process differs slightly for non-stable and stable releases.

New release managers should review New release manager checklist at the end of this document. This section explains the procedures for getting ready to begin work on managing PHP releases.

General notes and tips

  1. Do not release on Fridays, Saturdays, or Sundays as this gives poor lead time for downstream consumers adhering to a typical work week.

    Our general procedure is to release on Thursdays, whenever possible.

  2. Package two days before a release.

    If the release is to be on Thursday, package on Tuesday. Think about timezones as well.

  3. Ensure that the relevant tests on CI are green.

    πŸ’‘ Tip
    We recommend checking the build status a couple of days before packaging day to allow enough time to investigate failures, communicate with the authors, and commit any fixes.

    Check the CI status for your branch periodically and resolve the failures ASAP.

    See more in https://wiki.php.net/rfc/travis_ci.

  4. Follow all steps to the letter.

    πŸ’‘ Tip
    When you are unsure about anything, ask a previous RM before proceeding. Ideally, make sure a previous RM is available to answer questions during the first few releases of your version. For the steps related to the web-php, web-qa, and web-php-distributions repositories, try to have someone from the webmaster team on hand.

  5. Verify the tags to be extra sure everything was tagged properly.

  6. There is a PHP release Docker image https://github.com/sgolemon/php-release with forks available to help with releases.

  7. Communicate with release managers via release-managers@php.net.

  8. References to repositories in this document refer to the canonical source located at https://github.com/php.

  9. It might be helpful to name your remote repositories something other than "origin" to avoid accidentally pushing changes to "origin" with muscle memory.

  10. It might also be helpful to set up conditional includes in your global ~/.gitconfig to set the proper user.name, user.email, and user.signingKey values to use with your local PHP repositories. See Conditional Includes For Git Config for more information.

Packaging a non-stable release (alpha/beta/RC)

All releases during the pre-release cycle (alpha/beta/RC) leading up to the GA release for a version are non-stable releases. Following the GA release, all RCs are non-stable releases.

All non-stable releases follow a similar pattern, though pre-GA releases have slightly different steps. We'll call attention where the steps differ.

  1. Check that CI is passing (see above).

  2. Run ./scripts/dev/credits in php-src and commit the changes to the credits files in ext/standard.

    πŸ’¬ Hint
    It's rare this script will make any changes, so if you run git diff and do not see anything, there's no need to panic. That means there are no changes to the credits files.

  3. Check out the release branch for this release from the version branch.

    πŸ”Ά Non-stable version branches: pre-GA
    There is no version branch for alpha or beta releases. Instead, treat the main branch as the version branch. You will create a local-only release branch from the main branch. Do not push it!

    git checkout -b php-X.Y.0alpha1-local-release-branch upstream/master

    During the first RC release, you will create (and push!) the version branch for the pre-GA release, e.g., PHP-8.2. See "Forking a new version branch" below. From this point forward, all pre-GA release branches will be created from this version branch. Again, these release branches are local-only. Do not push them!

    git checkout -b php-X.Y.0beta2-local-release-branch upstream/PHP-X.Y

    πŸ”· Non-stable version branches: post-GA
    After GA, you will create (and push) a new patch-level version branch along with each non-stable release. For example, if you are building a release for PHP 8.2.8 RC1, you will create the PHP-8.2.8 patch-level version branch from the PHP-8.2 version branch.

    git checkout -b PHP-X.Y.Z upstream/PHP-X.Y
    git push upstream PHP-X.Y.Z

    We will use the patch-level version branch to commit any critical bug or security fixes before this version's GA.

    Then, from the patch-level version branch, you will create another local-only release branch. Do not push this one!

    git checkout -b php-X.Y.ZRC1-local-release-branch upstream/PHP-X.Y.Z
  4. Using your local-only release branch, bump the version numbers in main/php_version.h, Zend/zend.h, configure.ac, and possibly NEWS.

    For examples, see Update versions for PHP 8.1.0beta3 (for a pre-GA example) or Update versions for PHP 8.1.6RC1 along with Update NEWS for PHP 8.1.6RC1 (for a post-GA example).

    ⚠️ Important
    Do not use abbreviations for alpha or beta. Do not use dashes as separators.

    Do this:

    #define PHP_VERSION "7.4.22RC1"

    Not this:

    #define PHP_VERSION "7.4.22-RC1"

    πŸ—’ Note
    We update Zend/zend.h only when preparing RC and GA releases. We do not update ZEND_VERSION for alpha or beta releases.

    🚨 API version bump for pre-GA
    When releasing the first release candidate of a pre-GA release, you must also bump the API version numbers in Zend/zend_extensions.h, Zend/zend_modules.h, and main/php.h. See Prepare for PHP 8.1.0RC1, for example.

    The API versions between the alpha, beta, and X.Y.0RCn releases may remain the same, or be bumped as little as possible because PHP extensions need to be rebuilt with each bump.

    Do not bump the API versions after RC1.

  5. Compile and run make test, with and without ZTS (Zend Thread Safety), using the correct Bison and re2c versions, e.g., for PHP 7.4, Bison 3.0.0 and re2c 0.13.4 are required, as a minimum.

    For example:

    # With ZTS
    make distclean || \
    ./buildconf --force \
        && ./configure --enable-zts --disable-all --enable-debug --enable-opcache --enable-opcache-jit \
        && make -j$(nproc) \
        && make test TEST_PHP_ARGS="-q -j$(nproc)" \
        || ./sapi/cli/php -v
    
    # Without ZTS
    make distclean || \
    ./buildconf --force \
        && ./configure --disable-all --enable-debug --enable-opcache --enable-opcache-jit \
        && make -j$(nproc) \
        && make test TEST_PHP_ARGS="-q -j$(nproc)" \
        || ./sapi/cli/php -v
  6. After each build, check the output of ./sapi/cli/php -v to ensure the versions match the release.

  7. If all is correct, commit the changes to your local-only release branch.

    git add -p
    git commit --gpg-sign=YOURKEYID -m "Update versions for PHP X.Y.ZRCn"
  8. Tag your local-only release branch with the release version.

    git tag -s -u YOURKEYID php-X.Y.ZRCn -m "Tag for php-X.Y.ZRCn"
  9. πŸ”· For post-GA releases only, switch back to the version branch for your release (e.g., PHP-8.2) and bump the version numbers in main/php_version.h, Zend/zend.h, configure.ac and NEWS. This prepares the version branch for the next version.

    For example, if the RC is 8.2.1RC1 then the version numbers in the version branch should be bumped to 8.2.2-dev. We do this regardless of whether we build a new RC to make sure version_compare() works correctly. See Bump for 8.1.8-dev for a real example.

    Commit the changes to the version branch.

    git add -p
    git commit --gpg-sign=YOURKEYID -m "PHP-X.Y is now for PHP X.Y.Z-dev"

    πŸ’‘ Tip
    Version branches (e.g. PHP-8.1) will always have version numbers in main/php_version.h, Zend/zend.h, and configure.ac that end in -dev. Patch-level version branches (e.g. PHP-8.1.7) will also always have version numbers that end in -dev in these files. The main branch (i.e. master) will always have version numbers that end in -dev in these files.

    Only release tags should have version numbers in these files that do not end in -dev (e.g., 8.1.7, 8.1.7RC1, 8.2.0alpha1, etc.).

  10. Push the changes to the php-src.

    git push upstream php-X.Y.ZRCn # tag name
    git push upstream PHP-X.Y.Z    # patch-level version branch (post-GA only)
    git push upstream PHP-X.Y      # version branch

    🚨 Attention
    Do not push with --tags, as this will push all local tags, including tags you might not wish to push.

    Local-only release branches should not be pushed!

  11. Run the following using the release tag to export the tree, create the configure script, and build and compress three tarballs (.tar.gz, .tar.bz2 and .tar.xz).

    ./scripts/dev/makedist php-X.Y.ZRCn
  12. Run the following using the release tag and your GPG key ID to sign the tarballs and save the signatures to php-X.Y.ZRCn.manifest, which you can upload to GitHub and include in the announcement emails.

    ./scripts/dev/gen_verify_stub X.Y.ZRCn YOURKEYID > php-X.Y.ZRCn.manifest
  13. If you have the GitHub command line tool installed, run the following to create a public Gist for the manifest file:

    gh gist create --public php-X.Y.ZRCn.manifest

    Or you may go to https://gist.github.com to create it manually.

  14. Copy the tarballs (using scp, rsync, etc.) to your public_html/ folder on downloads.php.net.

    scp php-X.Y.ZRCn.tar.* downloads.php.net:~/public_html/

    πŸ’¬ Hint
    If you do not have a public_html directory, create it and set its permissions to 0755.

  15. Now the tarballs and signatures may be found at https://downloads.php.net/~yourname/, e.g. https://downloads.php.net/~derick/.

  16. Once the release is tagged, contact the release-managers@php.net distribution list so that Windows binaries can be created. Once those are made, they may be found at https://windows.php.net/qa/.

    Here is an example "ready for builds" message to release-managers@php.net:

    Subject: PHP 8.1.6RC1 ready for builds
    
    Hi, all!
    
    Tag: php-8.1.6RC1
    Tarballs: https://downloads.php.net/~ramsey/
    Manifest: https://gist.github.com/ramsey/5d73f0717effb6d8d17699381361e4b1
    
    Cheers,
    Ben
    
    << PASTE FULL MANIFEST CONTENTS HERE >>
    

Announcing a non-stable release (alpha/beta/RC)

  1. Switch to your local clone of the web-qa repository and update the information in the $QA_RELEASES array in include/release-qa.php.

    Follow the documentation in the file for editing the QA release information. See also Announce 8.1.0RC3 and 8.1.6RC1 for examples.

    Add, commit, and push your changes, when finished.

    git add -p
    git commit --gpg-sign=YOURKEYID -m "Announce PHP X.Y.ZRCn"
    git push upstream master
  2. πŸ”Ά For pre-GA releases only, add a short notice to web-php stating there is a new release, and highlight the major changes (e.g., security fixes).

    To help produce the files for this, use the bin/createNewsEntry tool. When you run it, it will ask several questions (see below). For pre-GA non-stable releases, use only the "frontpage" category.

    cd /path/to/repos/php/web-php
    ./bin/createNewsEntry
    # Please type in the title: PHP X.Y.0 Alpha n available for testing
    # Categories:
    #     0: PHP.net frontpage news   [frontpage]
    #     1: New PHP release          [releases]
    #     2: Conference announcement  [conferences]
    #     3: Call for Papers          [cfp]
    # Please select appropriate categories, separated with space: 0
    # Will a picture be accompanying this entry? no
    # And at last; paste/write your news item here.
    # To end it, hit <enter>.<enter>
    #
    #   [[ Here you will paste the full HTML of the post. ]]
    # .
    #
    git add -p
    git add archive/entries/*.xml
    git commit --gpg-sign=YOURKEYID -m "Announce PHP X.Y.0RCn"
    git push upstream master

    Each news entry for pre-GA releases will be similar, though we change the text slightly to indicate progression through the pre-release cycle. For example, here are all the news posts for the pre-GA releases of PHP 8.1.0:

    ⚠️ Important
    In your announcement news entry, be sure to include the following text or text similar to the following:

    Please DO NOT use this version in production, it is an early test version.

    πŸ—’ Note
    When a version is in its post-GA phase, we do not post news entries for non-stable releases.

  3. Wait for the web and qa sites to update with the new information before sending announcements. This could take up to an hour.

  4. Send separate announcement emails to:

    • internals@lists.php.net
    • php-general@lists.php.net
    • php-qa@lists.php.net

    In the announcement message, point out the location of the release and the possible release date of either the next RC or the final release. Also include the manifest generated by gen_verify_stub when you packaged the build.

    Here are a few examples of non-stable release announcement emails:

    🚨 Send separate emails!
    Do not send a single email message with all addresses in the To, Cc, or Bcc headers. If a user replies to one of these messages, we do not want their email client to automatically send the reply to each list, as often occurs.

    πŸ’¬ Hint
    We send emails to the followers of these mailing lists to notify them of new releases, so they can make sure their projects keep working and can report any potential bugs that should be fixed before the upcoming GA release.

  5. πŸ”Ά For pre-GA RCs only, coordinate with the social media team (i.e., Derick) to post a tweet with the RC release announcement and link to the news entry on php.net. (@official_php)

Packaging a stable release

  1. Check out the patch-level version branch for the release (e.g., PHP-8.1.7).

    πŸ’¬ Hint
    You should have created this branch when packaging the non-stable release candidate for this version. If it is for a PHP-X.Y.0 version, then just create and push this branch.

  2. If a CVE commit needs to be merged to the release, have it committed to the base branches and merged upwards as usual (e.g. commit the CVE fix to 7.2, merge to 7.3, 7.4, etc.). Then, you can cherry-pick it into the patch-level version branch for this release.

    Commit these changes and push the patch-level version branch. Ensure that CI is still passing (see above).

    πŸ’‘ Tip
    Don't forget to update NEWS manually in an extra commit to the patch-level version branch.

  3. Run the ./scripts/dev/credits script in the patch-level version branch, and commit the changes in the credits files in ext/standard.

    πŸ—’ Note
    It's very rare this will make changes at this point, but we run it here in case the credits changed as a result of a bug fix that was cherry-picked into this branch.

  4. Create a local-only release branch for this release from the patch-level version branch.

    git checkout -b php-X.Y.Z-local-release-branch upstream/PHP-X.Y.Z
  5. Using your local-only release branch, bump the version numbers in main/php_version.h, Zend/zend.h, configure.ac, and possibly NEWS.

    For example, if you're releasing a stable version for PHP 8.1.8, then all the version numbers in the patch-level version branch should be 8.1.8-dev. In your local-only release branch, you will change them all to 8.1.8.

    See Update versions for PHP 8.1.7 and Update NEWS for PHP 8.1.7 for an example.

  6. Compile and run make test, with and without ZTS (Zend Thread Safety), using the correct Bison and re2c versions, e.g., for PHP 7.4, Bison 3.0.0 and re2c 0.13.4 are required, as a minimum.

    For example:

    # With ZTS
    make distclean || \
    ./buildconf --force \
        && ./configure --enable-zts --disable-all --enable-debug --enable-opcache --enable-opcache-jit \
        && make -j$(nproc) \
        && make test TEST_PHP_ARGS="-q -j$(nproc)" \
        || ./sapi/cli/php -v
    
    # Without ZTS
    make distclean || \
    ./buildconf --force \
        && ./configure --disable-all --enable-debug --enable-opcache --enable-opcache-jit \
        && make -j$(nproc) \
        && make test TEST_PHP_ARGS="-q -j$(nproc)" \
        || ./sapi/cli/php -v
  7. After each build, check the output of ./sapi/cli/php -v to ensure the versions match the release.

  8. If all is correct, commit the changes to your local-only release branch.

    git add -p
    git commit --gpg-sign=YOURKEYID -m "Update versions for PHP X.Y.Z"
  9. Tag your local-only release branch with the release version and push the tag.

    git tag -s -u YOURKEYID php-X.Y.Z -m "Tag for php-X.Y.Z"
    git push upstream php-X.Y.Z
  10. Run the following using the release tag to export the tree, create the configure script, and build and compress three tarballs (.tar.gz, .tar.bz2 and .tar.xz).

    ./scripts/dev/makedist php-X.Y.Z

    πŸ’¬ Hint
    Check if the PEAR files are updated (Phar).

    πŸ’‘ Tip
    On some systems the behavior of GNU tar can default to produce POSIX compliant archives with PAX headers. As not every application is compatible with that format, creation of archives with PAX headers should be avoided. When packaging on such a system, the GNU tar can be influenced by defining the environment variable TAR_OPTIONS='--format=gnu'.

  11. Run the following using the release tag and your GPG key ID to sign the tarballs and save the signatures to php-X.Y.Z.manifest, which you can upload to GitHub and include in the announcement emails.

    ./scripts/dev/gen_verify_stub X.Y.Z YOURKEYID > php-X.Y.Z.manifest
  12. If you have the GitHub command line tool installed, run the following to create a public Gist for the manifest file:

    gh gist create --public php-X.Y.Z.manifest

    Or you may go to https://gist.github.com to create it manually.

  13. Switch to your local clone of the web-php-distributions repository and copy the tarballs and signature files into the repository. Add, commit, and push them.

    cd /path/to/repos/php/web-php-distributions
    mv /path/to/repos/php/php-src/php-X.Y.Z.tar.* .
    git add php-X.Y.Z.tar.*
    git commit --gpg-sign=YOURKEYID -m "Add tarballs for php-X.Y.Z"
    git push upstream master
  14. Switch to your local clone of the web-php repository and update the web-php-distributions submodule.

    cd /path/to/repos/php/web-php
    git pull --rebase upstream master
    git submodule init
    git submodule update
    cd distributions
    git fetch --all
    git pull --rebase upstream master
    cd ..
    git commit distributions -m "X.Y.Z tarballs"
    git push upstream master

    πŸ’¬ Hint
    This fetches the last commit ID from web-php-distributions and pins the "distributions" submodule in web-php to this commit ID.

    When the website syncs, which should happen within an hour, the tarballs will be available from https://www.php.net/distributions/php-X.Y.Z.tar.gz, etc.

  15. Once the release is tagged, contact the release-managers@php.net distribution list so that Windows binaries can be created. Once those are made, they may be found at https://windows.php.net/qa/.

    ⚠️ Important
    Do not send this announcement to any public lists.

    Here is an example "ready for builds" message to release-managers@php.net:

    Subject: PHP 8.1.6 ready for builds
    
    Hi, all!
    
    Tag: php-8.1.6
    Tarballs: web-php-distributions
    Manifest: https://gist.github.com/ramsey/432fcf8afcbfb1f1de6c3ab47d82e366
    
    Cheers,
    Ben
    
    << PASTE FULL MANIFEST CONTENTS HERE >>
    

Announcing a stable release

  1. This steps applies only for releases after PHP-X.Y.0.

    Switch to your local clone of web-php and add the information for the previous release to include/releases.inc.

    For example, if you are preparing to announce version 8.2.2, then the previous release is 8.2.1, so you will add the information for 8.2.1 to this file. Most of the time, you can do this using the bin/bumpRelease tool.

    ./bin/bumpRelease 8 2

    The first number is the major version, and the second number is the minor version. In this example, we're bumping the release information for version 8.2. There is no need to provide the patch level.

    πŸ’‘ Tip
    If this fails for any reason, you can manually copy the information for the previous release from include/version.inc into include/releases.inc.

  2. Update the version information for the new release in include/version.inc.

    Find the part of the $data array that is related to your version (e.g., $data['8.2'] for 8.2.x releases) or create a new section if releasing PHP-X.Y.0 version, and make the following edits / additions:

    • Set version to the full version number (e.g. '8.2.1')
    • Set date to the release date in j M Y format (e.g. '5 Jan 2021')
    • Update the tags array to include 'security' if this is a security release
    • Set the sha256 array with the hashes for each of the release tarballs
  3. Create the release file and news entry for the new version.

    ./bin/createReleaseEntry -v X.Y.Z -r # --security for security releases

    This will create a release file (i.e., releases/X_Y_Z.php) and a news entry file (i.e., archive/entries/YYYY-MM-DD-n.xml), while also updating archive/archive.xml.

    Within these files, it will generate standard messages for the new version. You may edit the generated files to expand on the base message, if needed.

    The edits are necessary for PHP-X.Y.0 version where the format is different. See for example PHP-8.2 announcement

  4. Update the ChangeLog file for the given major version (e.g., ChangeLog-8.php).

    If PHP-X.Y.0 is released, modify the ChangeLog-X.php (where X is the major version) file manually first. The $MINOR_VERSIONS field needs to be extended with the new version and initial anchor (e.g. <a id="PHP_8_4"></a> if added for PHP 8.4) added above the first anchor of the previous version.

    ./bin/news2html 'https://github.com/php/php-src/raw/php-X.Y.Z/NEWS' 'X.Y.Z' 'ChangeLog-X.php'
  5. Review all the changes in web-php, commit, and push them.

    git add -p
    git add archive/entries/*.xml releases/*.php
    git commit --gpg-sign=YOURKEYID -m "Announce PHP X.Y.Z"
    git push upstream master

    See Announce PHP 8.1.6 for an example commit.

  6. Switch to your local clone of the web-qa repository and update the information in the $QA_RELEASES array in include/release-qa.php.

The array probably contains information about the RC released two weeks ago in preparation for the current release. Since the current release is now GA, it's time to remove the RC build from the QA website.

It is sufficient to set the number property for the release to 0 to stop displaying the RC build on the QA website. You may also remove the sha256 hashes for the RC tarballs, but it's not necessary. For an example, see PHP 8.1.6 released.

Add, commit, and push your changes, when finished.

git add -p
git commit --gpg-sign=YOURKEYID -m "PHP X.Y.Z released"
git push upstream master
  1. 🚨 Before sending announcement emails, check to make sure the websites have synced.
  • Make sure the tarballs are available from, e.g., https://www.php.net/distributions/php-X.Y.Z.tar.gz
  • Check the "downloads" page to make sure the new version appears: https://www.php.net/downloads
  • Does the news entry show up on the home page? https://www.php.net
  • Do the updates to the ChangeLog appear? e.g., https://www.php.net/ChangeLog-8.php
  • Is there a release page for the new version? e.g., https://www.php.net/releases/X_Y_Z.php
  • Does the RC for this version still appear on the QA home page? https://qa.php.net

Keep in mind it may take up to an hour for the websites to sync.

  1. Please note down the sha256 and the PGP signature (.asc). These must be included in the release mail.

  2. Send separate announcement emails to:

  • php-announce@lists.php.net
  • php-general@lists.php.net
  • internals@lists.php.net

Release announcement emails must include the manifest generated when packaging the build, along with links to the sources, Windows binaries, and changelog. Here are a few examples of stable release announcement emails:

⚠️ Important
For standard patch-level releases, we will note "This is a bugfix release." If it is a security release, we must note "This is a security release."

🚨 Send separate emails!
Do not send a single email message with all addresses in the To, Cc, or Bcc headers. If a user replies to one of these messages, we do not want their email client to automatically send the reply to each list, as often occurs.

  1. Coordinate with the social media team (i.e., Derick) to create a PR request for posting the release announcement to Mastodon. Posts need to be approved.

Re-releasing the same version or a patch-level (i.e., -plN)

While unlikely, there may be times we need to re-release the same version. This might happen if the tarballs have a corrupted file, for example.

Should this occur before announcing the release, you may choose to delete the tag and go through the full packaging process again, as described above.

πŸ’¬ Hint
This is one of the reasons we package releases two days before announcing them.

If this happens after announcing the release, you may choose to tag, package, and release a patch-level (i.e., pl) release. If it is not critical and/or affects a very limited subset of users, then you may choose to wait until the next release.

If you choose to create a patch-level release, follow these steps:

  1. Commit the new binaries to web-php-distributions

  2. Update $data['X.Y'] in web-php:/include/version.inc (X.Y=major.minor release, e.g. '8.0'):

    • version to the full version number (e.g. '8.0.1-pl1')
    • date to the release date in j M Y format (e.g. '9 Jan 2021')
    • tags array should include security if this is a security release
    • sha256 array and sub-elements for all SHA256 sums
  3. Add a short notice to web-php stating that there is a new release, and highlight the major important things (security fixes) and when it is important to upgrade.

    • Call php bin/createReleaseEntry -v <version> [ --security ] in your local web-php checkout.
  4. Commit all the changes (include/version.inc, archive/archive.xml, archive/entries/YYYY-MM-DD-N.xml).

  5. Wait an hour or two, then send a mail to php-announce@lists.php.net, php-general@lists.php.net and internals@lists.php.net with a text similar to the news entry.

    Please make sure that the mail to php-announce@ is its own completely separate email. This is to make sure that replies to the announcement on php-general@ or internals@ will not accidentally hit the php-announce@ mailinglist.

Feature freeze

A major/minor version feature freeze occurs with the first beta release. Specifically, it occurs when the first beta release is packaged, which means the feature freeze occurs two days before the first beta release.

The feature freeze for php-src means that we will not accept any new features after the date of the feature freeze. For any RFCs to be included in the new version, they should be discussed and have the voting polls closed no later than the feature freeze date. However, this does not mean the new feature must have a complete implementation by this date.

Following the feature freeze, the focus of work for the new version will be on fixing bugs, writing tests, and completing/polishing all accepted features.

As a courtesy to the community, the release managers should remind others about the upcoming feature freeze by posting reminders to internals@lists.php.net at 4-weeks, 3-weeks, 2-weeks, and 1-week prior to the feature freeze. This is a recommendation and the intervals may vary based on work load.

Forking a new version branch

When the new version has reached the first RC, it is time to create a new version branch. This frees up the main branch (i.e., master) for any new feature development that cannot go into the new version.

  1. One week prior to tagging X.Y.0RC1, warn internals@ that your version's branch is about to be created. Be specific about when the branch creation will occur. For example: https://news-web.php.net/php.internals/99864

  2. Just prior to tagging X.Y.0RC1, create the new version branch locally, i.e. PHP-X.Y.

  3. Add a commit on the main branch (i.e., master) after the branch point.

    This commit should:

    • clear the NEWS, UPGRADING, and UPGRADING.INTERNALS files;
    • update the version numbers in configure.ac, main/php_version.h, Zend/zend.h, and win32/build/confutils.js;
    • update the API version numbers in Zend/zend_extensions.h, Zend/zend_modules.h, and main/php.h; and
    • add the new branch to the list in CONTRIBUTING.md.

    See Prepare for PHP 8.2 and Prepare for PHP 8.2 (bis) for an example of what this commit should include.

  4. Push the new version branch and the changes to the master branch, with an appropriate commit message (e.g., "master is now for PHP 8.3.0-dev").

  5. Immediately notify internals@ of the new branch and advise on the new merging order. For example: https://news-web.php.net/php.internals/99903

  6. Update web-php:git.php and https://wiki.php.net/vcs/gitworkflow to reflect the new branch.

    For example:

πŸ’¬ Hint
We create the new version branch at the first release candidate rather than at feature freeze to allow a period of time where the focus is on making the new version ready for RC and GA. During this time, the main branch is only for minor improvements and bug fixes. All major improvements and new features must wait.

Preparing for the initial stable version (PHP X.Y.0)

  1. When you release the first pre-GA RC, remind the documentation team (phpdoc@lists.php.net) to write the migration guide. Make sure the guide is available before releasing the initial stable version, since you should link to it in the release announcements.

  2. Timely get used to the differences in preparing and announcing a stable release.

  3. Before releasing X.Y.0, merge the NEWS entries of the pre-releases, so that there is only a single section about PHP X.Y.0, instead of individual sections for each pre-release.

    All the changes that are already present in the previous version NEWS should be removed. It means all bug fixes that went to the previous version as well should have their entries removed. It is possible to use grep to compare the changes. For exampe if 82/NEWS is NEWS for PHP 8.2 and 83/NEWS is NEWS file for PHP 8.3, then following command will show changes present in both files:

    grep -Fxf 82/NEWS 83/NEWS
  4. On the announcement day for the initial stable version (or shortly before), update the Expires field in the https://www.php.net/.well-known/security.txt file. The Expires field should be set to the expected date of the next X.Y.0 release (following the one currently being prepared), which is usually the fourth Thursday of November in the next year.

    Following the recommendation of RFC 9116, we maintain an Expires time of about a year for our security policies. This provides security researchers with confidence they are using our most up-to-date reporting policies.

    The security.txt file is located in the web-php repository under the .well-known/ directory. We may make changes to this file at other times, as needed, but we will always advance the Expires timestamp on a yearly cadence, coinciding with our X.Y.0 releases.

    Please see the instructions for making changes to security.txt.

Prime the selection of release managers for the next version

About three months prior to the scheduled release of the first alpha release of the next minor or major version (around March 1st or shortly thereafter), the release managers for the latest version branch should issue a call for volunteers to begin the selection process for the next release managers.

  1. Issue the call for volunteers on internals@lists.php.net on or around March 1st. See, for example: https://news-web.php.net/php.internals/113334

    There is no rule for how long the call for volunteers must remain open. We should aim to select the release managers by early April, so announcing the call in early March gives people about a month to decide whether they wish to volunteer.

  2. There should be two or more volunteers. Typically, one should be a veteran release manager (having previously served as a php-src release manager), while the other one (or two) should be rookies. Hold a vote if necessary (see https://wiki.php.net/rfc/releaseprocess#release_managers_selection).

  3. Help the new release managers with their first steps.

New release manager checklist

  1. Request membership to the release managers group on GitHub.

  2. Subscribe to the php-announce@lists.php.net mailing list by emailing php-announce+subscribe@lists.php.net

  3. Email systems@php.net to get setup for access to downloads.php.net, to be added to the release-managers@php.net distribution list, and to be added to the moderators for php-announce@lists.php.net so you are able to moderate your release announcements.

    Provide the following information in a single email:

    • Prefered Unix username (will also become part of location to download RCs, such as https://downloads.php.net/~derick/).
    • An SSH public key, preferably a new unique one for PHP systems and projects.
    • Read Machine Access to set up access to downloads.php.net through jump hosts, and provide a .google_authenticator file for 2FA.
    • Your @php.net email address to use for the release-managers@php.net distribution list and php-announce@lists.php.net moderator address. This should preferably not forward to a Gmail address.
    • Your GitHub account name, so that your membership to the release managers group may be approved.

    A system admin will then contact you to go through with steps 5 through 8 of 2FA setup instructions.

    πŸ’¬ Hint
    To send email from your @php.net address, you will need to use a custom SMTP server. If you use Gmail, you may "Send emails from a different address or alias."

  4. Create a GPG key for your @php.net address.

    πŸ’‘ Tip
    If you're new to GPG, follow GitHub's instructions for Generating a new GPG key.

    Publish your key by editing include/gpg-keys.inc in the web-php repository. Add a case for your username to the gpg_key_get() function, and paste the output from gpg --fingerprint. You may also need to update the $branches array in the gpg_key_get_branches() function to include your username alongside your branch.

    ❯ gpg --fingerprint ramsey@php.net
    pub   rsa4096 2021-04-26 [SC] [expires: 2025-11-24]
    39B6 4134 3D8C 104B 2B14  6DC3 F9C3 9DC0 B969 8544
    uid           [ultimate] Ben Ramsey <ramsey@php.net>
    sub   rsa4096 2021-04-26 [E] [expires: 2025-11-24]

    Have one or more of the other RMs sign your GPG key, and publish your public key to a keyserver:

    gpg --keyserver keys.openpgp.org --send-keys YOURKEYID
    gpg --keyserver keyserver.ubuntu.com --send-keys YOURKEYID

    Add your public key to php-keyring.gpg in web-php-distributions. To do this, you will need to import all keys from the current PHP keyring file to your local GPG keyring. You will need to take note of the key IDs for each of the release managers listed in php-keyring.gpg. Then, you will export, specifying your key ID in addition to the key IDs of every other release manager. Save this export back to php-keyring.gpg, commit the changes, and push.

    cd /path/to/repos/php/web-php-distributions
    gpg php-keyring.gpg            # lists all keys in the keyring
    gpg --import php-keyring.gpg   # imports all keys to your local keyring
    gpg --export \
        --export-options export-minimal \
        --armor \
        YOURKEYID F9C39DC0B9698544 DBDB397470D12172 MORE RM KEY IDS ... \
        > php-keyring.gpg
    gpg php-keyring.gpg  # verify all the keys are present, including yours
    git add -p
    git commit --gpg-sign=YOURKEYID -m "Update PHP release manager keyring"
    git push

    web-php-distributions is a submodule of web-php. You'll now have to update the commit reference to reflect the change made in web-php-distributions.

    cd /path/to/repos/php/web-php
    git submodule update
    cd distributions           # This is the submodule referring to web-php-distributions
    git pull origin master
    cd ..
    git add distributions
    git commit --gpg-sign=YOURKEYID -m "Update php-keyring.gpg in distributions"
    git push
  5. Make sure you have the following repositories cloned locally: