Maven release plugin

The Maven release plug-in is designed to automate many of the dull repetitive and error-prone tasks that are associated with releasing a version of the code-base. It is a two-step process where the release is first prepared, then the release is performed. It is recommended to use at least version 3.0.4 due to unspecified issues with settings - given this is now quite an old release this is unlikely to cause problems but it’s good to be aware of this in case anything strange is happening when trying to prepare or perform the release.

Goals overview

The goals of the release plugin are there to support the two-step design of the process.


As always, this displays some helpful text. It can be enhanced by asking for more detail, and for a specific goal:

mvn release:help -Ddetail=true -Dgoal=<goal-name>


Remove the files that were created as part of release preparation.


Get ready for a release. This step works out the release version and next version labels and drafts the release files ready for the next step.


This is the same as prepare, except that it will generate POMs for the release too.


Undo a release, unless you have issued a release:clean.


Commit to a release into the SCM. This will make changes to the project, update version numbers, and push your changes, so it’s important to make sure that this is what you want and that everything is correct. It’s also important to make sure that you are on the right branch.


Release the project into staging instead of the main SCM.


This prepares the release to target a new branch instead of creating a tag.


Update the versions in the POM(s) without doing the rest of the magic. This doesn’t sound terribly useful to me.

The quick guide

Assuming nothing goes wrong, and that your project is already set up correctly, and that you have a good version control system and/or backups, this is the process you should follow.

Pom settings

You’ll need a few things present in your project pom.xml file or in the parent pom, so make sure you have ans SCM section with a developer connection setting, and you’ll also need the build plugin too.

The SCM setting will look something like this:


You’ll need to put the right information into the URL, such as protocol, server name, port, and the path to the project. You can find more information on Git SCM URLs here: Git supports other SCM systems, and you can find details here: The list of fully-implemented SCMs is Bazaar, CVS, Git, Jazz, Mercurial, Perforce, StarTeam, Subversion, and CM Synergy. There are also some partially implemented SCMs, including Accurev, ClearCase, File system, Visual Source Safe, and Team Foundation Server. It’s unclear what is meant by partial. Out of this list, I’ve only used Git so I cannot vouch for the others, but there are plenty of resources online to help you if you run into problems.

The build plugin may have a newer version, but will resemble this fragment of XML:

                During release:perform, enable the "release" profile
            <preparationGoals>clean verify</preparationGoals>

I’ve taken the liberty of adding some configuration options in here that I consider useful. If you don’t need them, they can be removed or modified to fit your needs.


The first step is to prepare, as with all things. I prefer to use dry-run to start with, so I don’t have to keep cleaning up the mess until I feel that it’s likely to work.

mvn -DdryRun=true release:prepare 

To actually do the prepare, remove the dry-run option:

mvn release:prepare 

To clean up after a failed prepare, use ‘release:clean’:

mvn release:clean

To prepare a release with the default values, as you might do for a nightly-build or as part of an automated pipeline, you can set batch mode. There’s also the capability to set the values when invoking Maven if you need specific version numbers or tags:

mvn --batch-mode release:prepare
#or, with specific values
mvn --batch-mode -Dtag=release-1.7 release:prepare \
                 -DreleaseVersion=1.7 \

If your shell username differs from your SCM username, you can set this value as an option:

mvn -Dusername=your_scm_username release:prepare

Obviously, you can combine all these options if you need them.


When you have successfully prepared a release, you can use the ‘perform’ action to complete it.

mvn release:perform

There’s not really much more to say about this; it will do the release then clean up and finish.