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Purpose: Describe how Autoplot is released

Audience: Autoplot developers


  1. Introduction
  2. Release Script
  3. Screenshots and Branding
  4. Versioning
  5. Bugfixes and new features
  6. Webstart releases
    1. Notes on Webstart
  7. Single-jar releases (jumbojar)
  8. Procedure
    1. Verify Fidelty
    2. Building Autoplot for one user
    3. Building for a development release
    4. Making a development release into a production release

1. Introduction

Autoplot's release has grown incrementally over the years. For example, the screenshot with each release, was put in after a user would get confused about which version he was running. Since then the screenshot has been one a favorite part of the release procedure, digging through screenshots to identify the release. This describes the current procedure for the release, and updates for the 2015 development.

Note in this document ROOT is used to identify the root of the Autoplot distribution, and is generally working copy of

2. Release Script

The hudson server at is used to create releases. This provides a pushbutton to run a standard procedure for creating a release. The pushbutton asks for the release tag, which is a string that identifies a release. The current version is checked out of the svn from sourceforge and the das2 svn, and the a script is run to build both the JNLP release as well as the single jar release. Note this procedure runs nightly as well, and a tag is automatically assigned to the version.

3. Screenshots and Branding

The screenshots are used to "brand" the release, by which we mean to make a release easily recognizable. The file ROOT/VirboAutoplot/src/screen.png is the screenshot used for any release. Note this is generally a 60% reduced screenshot of the application, and the script takes the screenshot and erases the background for you. (Note this script should also do the 60% reduction, but for now gimp or similar is used. TODO: add this.)

The web page used to describe the release is ROOT/VirboAutoplot/src/index.html. This includes a series of bullet points describing bugfixes and new features.

4. Versioning

Releases are versioned with one of two strings. Development versions are tagged with the current date and a sequence letter (20150121a). The sequence letter is meant only to make it trivial to update later in the day. Production versions are tagged with a year, branch sequence letter, and a version sequence letter (v2015a_1). For example v2015a_1 means this was the first production release of the 2015a branch. The branch sequence was meant to allow for having multiple branches in one year, but this hasn't been necessary. The idea was that a new production branch could introduce a bunch of new functionality, so there would be two periods of adding new features in the year for the 2015a and 2015b branches.

5. Bugfixes and new features

A bugfix corrects a mistake and does not introduce new functionality, and a new feature introduces new functionality but may introduce new bugs. Development releases will have new features, along with bugfixes, while production releases should only be bugfixes. Ideally any production release will contain a superset of the functionality of the previous production release. New branches of the production release will contain more new features that have been proven in development releases, while older revisions in the branch will contain just bugfixes.

6. Webstart releases

Webstart is a mechanism developed at Sun Microsystems for managing Java applications. It provides just enough functionality to be more useful than it is annoying, but about half of the users just use the single-jar release. Autoplot is broken up into two parts, the stable and the volatile parts. Clients then only need to download the stable part once and then updates are provided in the small volatile updates. These are two jar files, the stable being approximately 20 MBytes and the volatile being about 7 MBytes. Ideally the stable jar would only be updated once per major production branch. Note the single-jar release contains everything.

Webstart will push new revisions out to users automatically, if one of the jar files is updated. This mechanism proved to be extremely unreliable when used with mediawiki on the server, and for this reason we would always make new releases. User's webstart caches would be filled with successive versions and would need periodic purging. We believe this problem is fixed, and starting with the 2015 branch, the webstart update mechanism will be used.

6.1. Notes on Webstart

In the JNLP file:

  • jnlp/information/title is just a label for the app. This is what is used in the menu.
  • devel releases will not try to associate cdf and vap files.
  • codebase for devel and latest releases are always and
  • shortcut and offline-allowed should be consistent, and I think the nightly builds will not use these.
  • jnlp/shortcut online="false" so that it doesn't check back with the server. Clients will come to the website for updates.

7. Single-jar releases (jumbojar)

Further down in the release web page users will find a link to the single-jar version. Some users have added a script to their systems that use this release along with Java options for increasing the memory size.

8. Procedure

8.1. Verify Fidelty

8.2. Building Autoplot for one user

Often you need to commit a correction and get the release out to one user. For example, last night one user saw a problem that no one else was seeing, and I was able to push releases out to him with feedback messages on the console.

Log in to and put the build button. TAG should be assigned the release tag, for example 20150121a or v2015a_1, but for single-user releases, just leave the default tag that identifies the build number. Note the release will have this tag available internally, as well as the SVN version and time stamp.

8.3. Building for a development release

Describe the release and provide branding. Make sure new features and bugfixes are described. Any change in the code that is not a "trivial" change (trivial commits should be committed with the "trivial" prefix) should be described. A new screenshot will make the release easier to identify.

To release on

8.4. Making a development release into a production release

  • vi OLDTAG/autoplot.jnlp to reset to latest, and not the devel.
  • rm latest; ln -s TAG latest
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