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About rulesets

Rulesets help you to control how people can interact with branches and tags in a repository.

Who can use this feature?

Anyone with read access to a repository can view the repository's rulesets. People with admin access to a repository, or a custom role with the "edit repository rules" permission, can create, edit, and delete rulesets for a repository and view ruleset insights. For more information, see "About custom repository roles."

Rulesets are available in public repositories with GitHub Free and GitHub Free for organizations, and in public and private repositories with GitHub Pro, GitHub Team, and GitHub Enterprise Cloud.

About rulesets

A ruleset is a named list of rules that applies to a repository, or to multiple repositories in an organization. You can have up to 75 rulesets per repository, and 75 organization-wide rulesets.

When you create a ruleset, you can allow certain users to bypass the rules in the ruleset. This can be users with a certain role, such as repository administrator, or it can be specific teams or GitHub Apps. For more information about granting bypass permissions, see "Creating rulesets for a repository."

Branch and tag rulesets

You can create rulesets to control how people can interact with selected branches and tags in a repository. You can control things like who can push commits to a certain branch and how the commits must be formatted, or who can delete or rename a tag. For example, you could set up a ruleset for your repository's feature branch that requires signed commits and blocks force pushes for all users except repository administrators.

For each ruleset you create, you specify which branches or tags in your repository, or which repositories in your organization, the ruleset applies to. You can use fnmatch syntax to define a pattern to target specific branches, tags, and repositories. For example, you could use the pattern releases/**/* to target all branches in your repository whose name starts with the string releases/. For more information on fnmatch syntax, see "Creating rulesets for a repository."

About rulesets, protected branches, and protected tags

Rulesets work alongside any branch protection rules and tag protection rules in a repository. Many of the rules you can define in rulesets are similar to protection rules, and you can start using rulesets without overriding any of your existing protection rules.

Rulesets have the following advantages over branch and tag protection rules.

  • Unlike protection rules, multiple rulesets can apply at the same time, so you can be confident that every rule targeting a branch or tag in your repository will be evaluated when someone interacts with that branch or tag. For more information, see "About rule layering."
  • Rulesets have statuses, so you can easily manage which rulesets are active in a repository without needing to delete rulesets.
  • Anyone with read access to a repository can view the active rulesets for the repository. This means a developer can understand why they have hit a rule, or an auditor can check the security constraints for the repository, without requiring admin access to the repository.
  • You can create additional rules to control the metadata of commits entering a repository, such as the commit message and the author's email address. For more information, see "Available rules for rulesets" in the GitHub Enterprise Cloud documentation.

Using ruleset enforcement statuses

While creating or editing your ruleset, you can use enforcement statuses to configure how your ruleset will be enforced.

You can select any of the following enforcement statuses for your ruleset.

  • Active: your ruleset will be enforced upon creation.
  • Evaluate: your ruleset will not be enforced, but you will be able to monitor which actions would or would not violate rules on the "Rule Insights" page.
  • Disabled: your ruleset will not be enforced or evaluated.

Using "Evaluate" mode is a great option for testing your ruleset without enforcing it. You can use the "Rule Insights" page to see if the contribution would have violated the rule. For more information, see "Managing rulesets for a repository."

About rule layering

A ruleset does not have a priority. Instead, if multiple rulesets target the same branch or tag in a repository, the rules in each of these rulesets are aggregated. If the same rule is defined in different ways across the aggregated rulesets, the most restrictive version of the rule applies. As well as layering with each other, rulesets also layer with protection rules targeting the same branch or tag.

For example, consider the following situation for the my-feature branch of the octo-org/octo-repo repository.

  • An administrator of the repository has set up a ruleset targeting the my-feature branch. This ruleset requires signed commits, and three reviews on pull requests before they can be merged.
  • An existing branch protection rule for the my-feature branch requires a linear commit history, and two reviews on pull requests before they can be merged.
  • An administrator of the octo-org organization has also set up a ruleset targeting the my-feature branch of the octo-repo repository. The ruleset blocks force pushes, and requires one review on pull requests before they can be merged.

The rules from each source are aggregated, and all rules apply. Where multiple different versions of the same rule exist, the result is that the most restrictive version of the rule applies. Therefore, the my-feature branch requires signed commits and a linear commit history, force pushes are blocked, and pull requests targeting the branch will require three reviews before they can be merged.