CKAN 2.2.3 documentation »

Upgrading CKAN

This document covers CKAN releases and how to upgrade a site to a newer version of CKAN:

  • CKAN releases describes the different types of CKAN release
  • Release process describes the process that the CKAN dev team follows, when we make a new CKAN release
  • Finally, Upgrading CKAN will walk you through the steps for upgrading a CKAN site to a newer version of CKAN

For a list of CKAN releases and the changes introduced in each release, see the Changelog.

CKAN releases

CKAN follows a predictable release cycle so that users can depend on stable releases of CKAN, and can plan their upgrades to new releases. The Changelog documents the main changes in each release.

Each release has a version number of the form M.m (eg. 2.1) or M.m.p (eg. 1.8.2), where M is the major version, m is the minor version and p is the patch version number. There are three types of release:

Major Releases
Major releases, such as CKAN 1.0 and CKAN 2.0, increment the major version number. These releases contain major changes in the CKAN code base, with significant refactorings and breaking changes, for instance in the API or the templates. These releases are very infrequent.
Minor Releases
Minor releases, such as CKAN 1.8 and CKAN 2.1, increment the minor version number. These releases are not as disruptive as major releases, but backwards-incompatible changes may be introduced in minor releases. The Changelog will document any breaking changes. We aim to release a minor version of CKAN roughly every three months.
Patch Releases

Patch releases, such as CKAN 1.8.1 or CKAN 2.0.1, increment the patch version number. These releases do not break backwards-compatibility, they include only bug fixes and non-breaking optimizations and features. Patch releases do not contain:

  • Database schema changes or migrations
  • Function interface changes
  • Plugin interface changes
  • New dependencies
  • Big refactorings or new features in critical parts of the code

Users should always run the latest patch release for the minor release they are on, as they contain important bug fixes and security updates. As they don’t include backwards incompatible changes, the upgrade process (as described in Upgrading a CKAN 2 package install to a new patch release) should be straightforward.

Outdated patch releases will no longer be supported after a newer patch release has been released. For example once CKAN 2.0.2 has been released, CKAN 2.0.1 will no longer be supported.

Releases are announced on the ckan-announce mailing list, a low-volume list that CKAN instance maintainers can subscribe to in order to be up to date with upcoming releases. You can sign up to the list here:

Release process

When the development is ready to start the process of releasing a new version of CKAN, we will:

  1. Create a new release branch from the master branch, named release-v* where * is the release’s version number.
  2. Deploy the release branch on for testing.
  3. During the next two-three weeks, we’ll allow changes on the release branch only to stabilize the code, update translations and documentation, etc. (new features are usually not added on the release branch).
  4. During the final week before the release, we’ll only allow critical bug fixes to be committed on the release branch.

At some point during the beta period a strings freeze will begin. That means that no changes to translatable strings are allowed on the release branch (no new strings, or changes to existing strings). This will give translators time to update the translations on Transifex. We’ll publish a call for translations to the ckan-dev and ckan-discuss mailing lists, announcing that the new version is ready to be translated.

At some point before the final release, we’ll announce an end of translations after which no new translations will be pulled into the release branch. At this point we’ll deploy the translations to and we’ll put out a request for people to test CKAN in their languages.

The upcoming releases are announced on the ckan-announce mailing list.

Release branches are not merged back into master. All changes on a release branch are cherry-picked from master (or merged from special branches based on the release branch).

To ensure that the release guidelines are enforced one of the CKAN core developers will act as Release Manager. They have the final say on what is merged into the release branches.

Detailed release process instructions for CKAN Developers can be found in the Doing a CKAN Release document:

Upgrading CKAN

This section will walk you through the steps to upgrade your CKAN site to a newer version of CKAN.


Before upgrading your version of CKAN you should check that any custom templates or extensions you’re using work with the new version of CKAN. For example, you could install the new version of CKAN in a new virtual environment and use that to test your templates and extensions.


You should also read the Changelog to see if there are any extra notes to be aware of when upgrading to the new version.

1. Backup your database

You should always backup your CKAN database before upgrading CKAN. If something goes wrong with the CKAN upgrade you can use the backup to restore the database to its pre-upgrade state.

  1. Activate your virtualenv and switch to the ckan source directory, e.g.:

    . /usr/lib/ckan/default/bin/activate
    cd /usr/lib/ckan/default/src/ckan
  2. Backup your CKAN database using the db dump command, for example:

    paster db dump --config=/etc/ckan/default/development.ini my_ckan_database.pg_dump

    This will create a file called my_ckan_database.pg_dump, you can use the the db load command to restore your database to the state recorded in this file. See db: Manage databases for details of the db dump and db load commands.

2. Upgrade CKAN

The process of upgrading CKAN differs depending on whether you have a package install or a source install of CKAN, and whether you’re upgrading to a major, minor or patch release of CKAN. Follow the appropriate one of these documents: