Public Flipper Releases

This document outlines how Flipper releases work on GitHub.


A release is kicked off by a special commit that has a subject with the format Flipper Release vX.Y.Z, e.g. 4fa2c9761.

This is triggered from a bot within Facebook that runs but the only thing special about the commit is its subject line. Anyone could run the script and would kick off the remaining jobs once the commit lands in master.

The commit bumps the version of Flipper Desktop as well as various SDK components and libraries that are to be published to npm and other package repositories.

Importantly, it is immediately followed by a "SNAPSHOT" commit (e.g. 02a56da3f) which sets the version of our Java dependencies to X.Y.(Z+1)-SNAPSHOT (that's the patch version incremented by one and a -SNAPSHOT suffix appended). That's a weird Maven-ism which allows us to continuously publish snapshot releases from the main branch.

Desktop Release

The release process for the desktop app is entirely driven by GitHub Actions. The entry point is the release.yml workflow which is triggered by changes to the desktop/package.json file on the main branch.

GitHub Actions has a limitation we need to work around here: It allows push events to as triggers for a workflow, but not individual commits. This requires us to first scan through all potential commits of a push to identify commits that match the aforementioned versioning schema. This is done through a custom action.

Only if this action is successful, the remaining steps are taken which

  • Check out the versioning commit.
  • Create a git tag for it.
  • Create a GitHub release for the tag.
  • Build releases for Linux, Mac and Windows.
  • Upload all these releases to temporary storage.
  • Download the release artifacts and attach them to the GitHub release.
  • Dispatch to separate workflows for publishing Cocoapods and npm packages (see below).

Android Release

Android is currently an outlier in that it does not run on GitHub Actions. This is mainly for legacy reasons but there's also a strong "never touch a running system" case to be made.

The Android release is run on CircleCI and configured in .circleci/config.yml

There are two jobs defined:

  1. The snapshot job runs on every commit on the main branch and publishes "SNAPSHOT" releases to Maven Central.
  2. The release job runs only on tags and publishes artifacts to JCenter.

There are two potential points for breakage:

  1. The base image used in the build instructions refers to a specific SDK version and requires occasional updating.
  2. The platform installation through the sdkmanager tool of the Android SDK may require additional SDKs or NDKs to be installed if they're not part of the base image.

One non-obvious aspect is that of authentication for uploads. The repository contains a symmetrically encrypted copy of our credentials to Sonatype (for Maven Central) and JCenter. The release scripts decode the file on the fly by using a secret Circle CI exposes through an environment variable.

iOS Release

iOS releases are run in GitHub Actions but exist as a separate workflow. They can be triggered in three ways:

  1. When a tag is pushed.
  2. By manually triggering the workflow (see below).
  3. Through a dispatch_workflow event which is issued as a last step of the desktop release process.
Manually triggering a workflow

The workflow follows the default Cocoapods update procedure, bumps and published both the Flipper and FlipperKit pod and finally creates a pull request containing the updated references. This PR must be manually merged.

Authentication is managed through the secret environment variable COCOAPODS_TRUNK_TOKEN.

npm releases

The JavaScript libraries published as part of a Flipper release closely follow the iOS release procedure. Same as before, it is a workflow that is triggered by one of the three events, which should in all but exceptional circumstances be a dispatch event. The workflow is defined in publish-npm.yml.

From there, we use a script to bump the versions of our Yarn workspaces, and publish all public packages (flipper, flipper-babel-transformer, ...) and our React Native bindings.

The authentication to npm is managed by a secret environment variable called FLIPPER_NPM_TOKEN.