Release Tool for SilverStripe

2.2.2 2022-07-19 23:25 UTC

This package is auto-updated.

Last update: 2024-06-18 05:38:41 UTC




The ineptly named tool which may one day supercede the older build tools.



Enable DEV_MODE by adding DEV_MODE=1 to a .env file. This will prevent pushing to github.

Do not perform a release on a directory if you previously used DEV_MODE on that directory because the steps will be out of order. Instead, delete the directory that had DEV_MODE run on it and start the entire release again with DEV_MODE disabled.

The .env file needs to be in the /cow directory, not the releases directory. E.g. if your cow directory is in ~/Releases/cow, then create the .env file as ~/Releases/cow/.env


Requires Docker.

You do not need to know how Docker works, but you need to have it installed and running.

For production purposes Cow should be run via the Docker-based scripts included in the ./docker/bin folder, rather than via direct invocation on your machine. That ensures use of consistent versions of all 3rd party libraries and tools and is the only supported installation option.

Tested on Linux and macOS, but should work on Windows too (with either Cygwin or WSL).

When it's installed, to run Cow launch ./docker/bin/run script. That will automatically download the latest released version of Cow docker image and launch it transparently in your terminal.

When publishing a release, use the ./docker/bin/release script. This is similar to run, but runs an SSH-Agent and performs some extra checks.

At the time of writing this readme (2020-02-03) you will need a GITHUB_TOKEN (scopes: repo and read:packages).

Then you need to configure composer of your Cow distribution by running

./docker/bin/composer config -g TOKEN

For more details on these and other available scripts, see docker/

Adding Cow to your $PATH (optional)

If you want to run Cow globally, you can create a symlink to docker/bin/release in a folder that is included in your $PATH.

Here's an example (feel free to reuse any of your existing folders from yor $PATH)

mkdir -p ~/.local/bin;  # ensure existing ~/.local/bin
ln -s ./docker/bin/release ~/.local/bin/cow  # create symlink to the launcher and name it cow
echo 'export PATH=$PATH:~/.local/bin' >> ~/.bashrc  # add ~/.local/bin to the $PATH

After you reload your session (e.g. reopen the terminal) you may launch cow from anywhere on your system:

cd ./my-project;
cow moo


To run Cow without Docker, reference the Dockerfile for system requirements.

Extra setup

  • When publishing to GitHub make sure you have ssh-agent running and your SSH keys loaded (run ssh-add)


Cow is a collection of different tools (steps) grouped by top level commands. It is helpful to think about not only the commands available but each of the steps each command contains.

It is normally recommended that you run with -vvv verbose flag so that errors can be viewed during release.

For example, this is what I would run to release 3.1.14-rc1.

cow release 3.1.14-rc1 -vvv

And once I've checked that all is fine, and am 100% sure that this code is ready to go.

cow release:publish 3.1.14-rc1 -vvv


cow release <version> <recipe> will perform the first part of the release tasks.

  • <version> is mandatory and must be the exact tag name to release.
  • <recipe> will allow you to release a recipe other than 'silverstripe/installer'

This command has these options:

  • -vvv to ensure all underlying commands are echoed
  • --directory <directory> to specify the folder to create or look for this project in. If you don't specify this, it will install to the path specified by ./release-<version> in the current directory.
  • --repository <repository> will allow a custom composer package url to be specified. E.g. Note: If you specify the repository during setup it will be re-used for subsquent commands unless the .cow.repository file is deleted.
  • --branching <type> will specify a branching strategy. This allows these options:
    • auto - Default option, will branch to the minor version (e.g. 1.1) unless doing a non-stable tag (e.g. rc1)
    • major - Branch all repos to the major version (e.g. 1) unless already on a more-specific minor version.
    • minor - Branch all repos to the minor semver branch (e.g. 1.1)
    • none - Release from the current branch and do no branching.
  • --skip-tests to skip tests
  • --skip-i18n to skip updating localisations

release actually has several sub-commands which can be run independently. These are as below:

  • release:create creates the project folder
  • release:plan Initiates release planning tool to preview release dependency versions
  • release:branch Will (if needed) branch all modules
  • release:translate Updates translations and commits this to source control
  • release:test Run unit tests
  • release:changelog Just generates the changelog and commits this to source control.

Publishing releases

cow release will only build the release itself. Once all of the above steps are complete, it is necessary to take the finished release and push it out to the open source community. A second major command cow release:publish is necessary to perform the final steps. The format for this command is:

cow release:publish <version>

This command has these options:

  • -vvv to ensure all underlying commands are echoed
  • --directory <directory> to specify the folder to look for the project created in the prior step. As with above, it will be guessed if omitted. You can run this command in the ./release-<version> directory and omit this option.

The release process, as with the initial cow release command, will actually be composed of several sub-commands, each of which could be run separately.

  • release:tag Add annotated tags to each module and pushes

After the push step, release:publish will automatically wait for this version to be available in before continuing.

Creating changelogs

cow release:changelog will create a changelog which is categorised into various sets of change types, e.g. enhancements, bug fixes, API changes and security fixes.

The changelog command takes the follow arguments and options:

  • version The version you're releasing the project as
  • recipe The recipe you're releasing
  • --include-other-changes If provided, uncategorised commits will also be included in an "Other changes" section. Note that commits which match ChangelogItem::isIgnored() will still be excluded, e.g. merge commits.
  • --changelog--use-legacy-format If provided, falls back to the old changelog format (used before Oct 2020)
  • --changelog--audit-mode swaps changelog format to Audit Mode, which turns on include-upgrade-only flag and uses audit template for changelog logs generation (including every single change).

Pro-tip: Part of this command involves plan generation and/or confirmation, and you can provide the --skip-fetch-tags option to prevent Cow from re-fetching all tags from origin if you have already done this and only want to make a quick change.

Changelog Templates

You can specify a file to use as the template for generating fresh changelogs via the changelog-template configuration in .cow.json. This template can use Twig syntax to inject relevant information:

  • {{ version }} will inject the version that the changelog is being generated for (e.g. 1.2.3)
  • {{ logs }} will inject the commit logs with before/after delimiters, so they can be updated later without destroying any other changes to the contents.

GitHub API ratelimit

Run cow github:ratelimit to check your current GitHub API rate limiting status

Note: All GitHub API commands require a GITHUB_ACCESS_TOKEN environment variable to be set before they can be used. It can be in the .env file (see dev mode).


The cow schema file is in the root of this project.

You can run cow schema:validate to check the .cow.json configuration file in your project or module to ensure it matches against the Cow schema.