Reviewing dependency changes in a pull request

If a pull request contains changes to dependencies, you can view a summary of what has changed and whether there are known vulnerabilities in any of the dependencies.

In this article

Note: Dependency review is currently in beta and subject to change.

About dependency review

If a pull request targets your repository's default branch and contains changes to package manifests or lock files, you can display a dependency review to see what has changed. The dependency review includes details of changes to indirect dependencies in lock files, and it tells you if any of the added or updated dependencies contain known vulnerabilities.

Dependency review is available in:

  • All public repositories.
  • Private repositories owned by organizations with an Advanced Security license that have the dependency graph enabled. For more information, see "Exploring the dependencies of a repository."

Sometimes you might just want to update the version of one dependency in a manifest and generate a pull request. However, if the updated version of this direct dependency also has updated dependencies, your pull request may have more changes than you expected. The dependency review for each manifest and lock file provides an easy way to see what has changed, and whether any of the new dependency versions contain known vulnerabilities.

By checking the dependency reviews in a pull request, and changing any dependencies that are flagged as vulnerable, you can avoid vulnerabilities being added to your project. Dependabot alerts will find vulnerabilities that are already in your dependencies, but it's much better to avoid introducing potential problems than to fix them at some later date. For more information about Dependabot alerts, see "About alerts for vulnerable dependencies."

Dependency review supports the same languages and package management ecosystems as the dependency graph. For more information, see "About the dependency graph."

Reviewing dependencies in a pull request

  1. Under your repository name, click Pull requests.

    Issues and pull requests tab selection

  2. In the list of pull requests, click the pull request you'd like to review.

  3. On the pull request, click Files changed.

    Pull Request Files changed tab

  4. If the pull request contains many files, use the File filter drop-down menu to collapse all files that don't record dependencies. This will make it easier to focus your review on the dependency changes.

    The file filter menu

  5. On the right of the header for a manifest or lock file, display the dependency review by clicking the rich diff button.

    The rich diff button

    Note: The dependency review provides a clearer view of what has changed in large lock files, where the source diff is not rendered by default.

  6. Check the dependencies listed in the dependency review.

    Vulnerability warnings in a dependency review

    Any added or changed dependencies that have vulnerabilities are listed first, ordered by severity and then by dependency name. This means that the highest severity dependencies are always at the top of a dependency review. Other dependencies are listed alphabetically by dependency name.

    The icon beside each dependency indicates whether the dependency has been added (), updated (), or removed () in this pull request.

    Other information includes:

    • The version, or version range, of the new, updated, or deleted dependency.
    • For a specific version of a dependency:
      • The age of that release of the dependency.
      • The number of projects that are dependent on this software. This information is taken from the dependency graph. Checking the number of dependents can help you avoid accidentally adding the wrong dependency.
      • The license used by this dependency, if this information is available. This is useful if you want to avoid code with certain licenses being used in your project.

    Where a dependency has a known vulnerability, the warning message includes:

    • A brief description of the vulnerability.
    • A Common Vulnerabilities and Exposures (CVE) or GitHub Security Advisories (GHSA) identification number. You can click this ID to find out more about the vulnerability.
    • The severity of the vulnerability.
    • The version of the dependency in which the vulnerability was fixed. If you are reviewing a pull request for someone, you might ask the contributor to update the dependency to the patched version, or a later release.
  7. You may also want to review the source diff, because there could be changes to the manifest or lock file that don't change dependencies, or there could be dependencies that GitHub can't parse and which, as a result, don't appear in the dependency review.

    To return to the source diff view, click the button.

    The source diff button

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