A Knife plugin to assist with deploying completed Chef cookbooks to the Community Site

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A Knife plugin to assist with deploying completed Chef cookbooks to the Community Site


There are sooo many ways to deliver software. Apt has 'deb', Yum has 'rpm', Node has 'npm', RubyGems has 'gem', Java has 'jar', etc etc etc.

In The Land of Chef, the typical unit of shareable software is a 'cookbook'.

The centralized location for sharing cookbooks is the Community Site, and we already have support to download/install these elements, either it be through knife itself, librarian, and berkshelf, and there are probably others.

What we don't have is a good method for cookbook maintainers to contribute back to the Community Site, while semi-enforcing good habits, such as version incrementing, git tags and forming the package correctly.



  • You know what Git is
  • You know what Chef is
  • You have Push permissions to the remote GitHub repository
  • You don't already have a perfected workflow that works for you
  • You want to be a helpful citizen of the community


  • You have not incremented the version number in metadata.rb - this will do so for you
  • You have a name string defined in your metadata.rb, OR your repository name is identical to your cookbook name
  • You have either committed or staged all changes to be included with this version release. Any uncommitted changed should be git stashed, or stage them to be committed along with the version via git add

Cookbook Release Workflow

Assuming you have made your changes, tested your code thoroughly (one can hope!), all merged into your master branch, and are ready to release a new version of your cookbook, here's a flow to follow:

  1. Ensure that the branch is ready to be committed. If there are uncommitted changes, error out.
  2. Read in the current metadata.rb, inspect the version string, and increment it to the next tiny version. Override with CLI argument.
  3. Create a git commit for the metadata.rb change.
  4. Create a git tag with the version number (no leading "v" or the like)
  5. Push all commits/tags to the set remote, typically like git push origin master. Override with --branch
  6. Create a 'package' - effectively a compressed tarball - and upload it to the community site
  7. Have a beer, or glass of wine - you choose.

This flow can probably be used for most cookbook maintainers.



knife community release COOKBOOK [X.Y.Z | --remote | --branch | --devodd ]


  • X.Y.Z - String, Version in X.Y.Z format. Manually specify the version.

    If unspecified, increments to the next x.y.Z version

  • --remote REMOTE - String, Remote repository to push to. Defaults to origin

  • --branch BRANCHNAME - String, Branch name. Defaults to master

  • --devodd - Boolean. If specified, post-release, will bump the minor version to the next odd number, and generate another commit & push (but no tags).

    This is a flow that some adopt by having even-only numbered releases, utilizing the odd numbered ones for development.

Some good ideas while working on a cookbook

Creating a that details a short message about any changes included in each release is really helpful to anyone looking at your updated cookbook and seeing if it addresses a problem they have, without delving deeper into the code.

Updating a file if there are outstanding known issues, planned work for the next version, etc. A TODO file also helps anyone else in the community try to tackle a problem you haven't figured out or gotten to yet, so they can issue a pull request for your cookbook.

Follow Semantic Versioning when choosing which version number to increment to. Start your cookbook at 0.1.0, and increment from there, until you are confident enough in a 1.0.0 version.

Test, test, test. And then test again.