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auto publish sbt plugin from Travis CI

In this post, we’ll try to automate the release of an sbt plugin using Ólafur’s olafurpg/sbt-ci-release. The README of sbt-ci-release covers the use case for a library published to Sonatype OSS. Read it thoroughly since this post will skip over the details that do not change for publishing sbt plugins.

Automated release in general is a best practice, but there’s one benefit specifically for sbt plugin releases. Using this setup allows multiple people to share the authorization to release an sbt plugin without adding them to Bintray sbt organization. This is useful for plugins maintained at work.

step 1: sbt-ci-release

Remove sbt-release if you’re using that. Add sbt-ci-release instead.

addSbtPlugin("org.foundweekends" %% "sbt-bintray" % "0.5.6")
addSbtPlugin("com.geirsson" % "sbt-ci-release" % "1.5.3")

Don’t forget to remove version.sbt.

step 2: -SNAPSHOT version

We need to also suppress sbt-dynver a little bit so we get a simpler -SNAPSHOT versions for commits that are not tagged:

ThisBuild / dynverSonatypeSnapshots := true
ThisBuild / version := {
  val orig = (ThisBuild / version).value
  if (orig.endsWith("-SNAPSHOT")) "2.2.0-SNAPSHOT"
  else orig

step 3: recover sbt-bintray settings

We typically use sbt-bintray to publish plugins, so rewire publishTo back to bintray / publishTo. Also set publishMavenStyle to false.

  publishMavenStyle := false,
  bintrayOrganization := Some("sbt"),
  bintrayRepository := "sbt-plugin-releases",
  publishTo := (bintray / publishTo).value,

step 4: remove bintrayReleaseOnPublish overrides

We need to release on publish, so if you have bintrayReleaseOnPublish := false, in your build.sbt remove it.

// bintrayReleaseOnPublish := false,

step 5: create a fresh GPG key

Follow the instruction in olafurpg/sbt-ci-release to generate a fresh GPG key.

$ gpg --gen-key
gpg (GnuPG/MacGPG2) 2.2.20; Copyright (C) 2020 Free Software Foundation, Inc.
This is free software: you are free to change and redistribute it.
There is NO WARRANTY, to the extent permitted by law.

Note: Use "gpg --full-generate-key" for a full featured key generation dialog.

GnuPG needs to construct a user ID to identify your key.

Real name: sbt-avro bot
Email address:


public and secret key created and signed.

pub   rsa2048 2020-08-07 [SC] [expires: 2022-08-07]
uid                      sbt-avro bot <>
sub   rsa2048 2020-08-07 [E] [expires: 2022-08-07]

Take this down as LONG_ID:

echo $LONG_ID
gpg --armor --export $LONG_ID

Submit the public key to

step 6: Travis CI environment variables

Set up environment variables in the Travis CI setting. Note do NOT limit the access only to master branch since tags are on their own branch.

The following should be made public by toggling “display value in build log”:

The following should be kept secret (default):

# macOS
gpg --armor --export-secret-keys $LONG_ID | base64 | pbcopy
# Ubuntu (assuming GNU base64)
gpg --armor --export-secret-keys $LONG_ID | base64 -w0 | xclip
# Arch
gpg --armor --export-secret-keys $LONG_ID | base64 | sed -z 's;\n;;g' | xclip -selection clipboard -i
# FreeBSD (assuming BSD base64)
gpg --armor --export-secret-keys $LONG_ID | base64 | xclip

step 7: Travis CI YAML

language: scala

jdk: openjdk8

  - name: test
  - name: release
    if: (tag IS present) AND NOT fork

    # stage="test" if no stage is specified
    - name: jdk8
      jdk: openjdk8
    - name: jdk11
      jdk: openjdk11
    # run ci-release only if previous stages passed
    - stage: release
      script: sbt ci-release

  - git fetch --tags

script: sbt clean test scripted

- find $HOME/.ivy2/cache     -name "ivydata-*.properties" -print -delete
- find $HOME/.cache/coursier -name                        -print -delete
- find $HOME/.sbt            -name "*.lock"               -print -delete

    - $HOME/.ivy2/cache
    - $HOME/.cache/coursier
    - $HOME/.sbt

step 8: tag-based release

When you’re ready to publish your plugin, tag the commit and push it.

git tag -a v0.1.0 -m "v0.1.0"
git push origin v0.1.0

This should start a release job on Travis CI.