XL Release is an end-to-end pipeline orchestrator for DevOps and continuous delivery. XL Release helps you automate and orchestrate your release processes and gives you visibility across your entire software release pipeline.

Below, you’ll find some tips for your first-time XL Release experience.

Step 1 Explore XL Release

First, read the essential background information about XL Release’s key concepts and check out the Visibility, Automation, and Control with XL Release and XL Deploy video.

When you log in to XL Release for the first time, you’ll see the task overview screen. A task called Welcome! Click me to get started is assigned to you. Click the name of the task to follow a guided tour of XL Release’s main features.

Welcome release

Note: If you do not want to have new users receive this Welcome release, you can delete the Welcome to XL Release template from your Samples & Tutorials folder.

Step 2 Model a release pipeline

In XL Release, you model a release pipeline as a template. Each time you want to release your software, you create a release based on the template. This ensures that each release follows a consistent set of steps.

Create a template

To model your first release pipeline, select Releases > Templates from the top bar, then click New template. Enter a name for the template and click Create (you can fill in the other template properties later).

Create a template

Add phases and tasks

A template is made up of phases (columns) and tasks (the boxes in each column). In a running release, phases are executed in order from left to right, and tasks are executed in order from top to bottom.

Release flow editor

A new template already has one phase in place. Click New phase to change its name; because this is the first phase in the process, you might choose a name such as Prepare release or Prerelease tasks.

In the phase, click Add task to add the first task. XL Release supports many types of tasks; some represent work that is done by a person or a team, while others represent automated work that is done by XL Release or by another tool.

Add a Manual task

A quick and easy way to get started is to add each task in your process as a Manual type, which only requires you to enter a task title. Then, after you finish modeling the process, you can go back through the template and convert tasks that represent work that is or can be automated, such as sending email notifications, running Jenkins jobs, and querying JIRA tickets.

As you add tasks, you can create release variables on the fly by typing them in ${variable} format. Variables are useful for information such as product names, version numbers, environment names, and so on. You can also choose to add variables later, after you’ve modeled the whole process.

Check out the table and planner views

As you model a release process, you can click at the top of the release flow editor to switch to the table view, which is helpful for templates that contain many tasks.

Table view

You can also use the release planner to visualize the duration of each phase and task.

Planner view

Step 3 Do a dry run

After you finish modeling a release process as a template, click New release to do a dry run of a release. Enter a release name and click Create to create the release. The release is now planned; to start it, click Start Release and confirm that you’re ready to start.

Click the first task in the first phase. You can choose to Complete it or to Skip it. If you skip the task, you’ll be required to enter a comment explaining why the expected work was not done.

You can choose to Fail a task, which also requires you to enter a comment. This will put the release in a failed state. You can resume the release by either restarting or skipping the failed task.

Check out the release dashboard

The release dashboard gives you an overview of useful information about a template or release. Select Release dashboard from the Show menu to see the dashboard for the release. You can click tiles in the dashboard to drill down into more detailed information.

Finish the release

Select Release flow from the Show menu, then complete or skip the remaining tasks in the release. When the final task in the final phase is done, the release is complete.

Step 4 Set up security

In XL Release, there are two types of users:

  • Internal users that are managed by XL Release and can be added and removed by an XL Release administrator
  • External users that are maintained in an LDAP repository such as Active Directory

To get started with security, create an internal user account for yourself. Go to User management > Users and click New user. Enter a user name, email address, and password, then click Save.

Note: Prior to XL Release 6.0.0, select Settings > Users.

Create a role

XL Release has a role-based security system. You assign each user a role, and then assign global permissions to the role.

Go to User management > Roles and click New role. (Prior to XL Release 6.0.0, select Settings > Roles.) Click the role name and enter Administrators. Then, click Add… under Principals and type the user name that you just created for yourself. Don’t forget to click Save to save your changes.

Assign permissions to the role

Now you can assign global permissions to the role that you created. Go to User management > Permissions and select all permissions next to the Administrators role. Don’t forget to click Save to save your changes.

Note: Prior to XL Release 6.0.0, select Settings > Permissions.

Global permissions

Now, click the Help menu at the top right and select Logout, then log back in with the user name and password that you created for yourself.

Configure a team on your template

In addition to global security, each template and release has its own permissions that you assign to teams. A team is made up of roles and/or individual users.

Go to Releases > Templates and click View under the template that you created earlier. Select Teams from the Show menu.

There are always two built-in teams on a template: the Template Owner team and the Release Admin team. Click Add a member… next to each one and add the Administrators role.

Now you can assign template-level and release-level permissions to the teams. Select Permissions from the Show menu and assign permissions as follows:

  • Template permissions
    • Template Owner: Create Release, View Template, Edit Template, Edit security
    • Release Admin: View Template
  • Release permissions:
    • Template Owner: None
    • Release Admin: View Release, Edit Release, Edit Security, Start Release, Abort Release, Edit Task, Reassign Task

Step 5 Check out reports

XL Release has a variety of built-in reports that help you analyze your level of release automation and identify bottlenecks in your release processes.

Click Reports in the top menu bar and check out each type of report. You should see the release that you completed earlier.

What’s next

Now that you’ve gone through some of the basics of XL Release, you can: