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Configuring Dependabot version updates

You can configure your repository so that Dependabot automatically updates the packages you use.

Who can use this feature?

People with write permissions to a repository can enable or disable Dependabot version updates for the repository.

Note: Your site administrator must set up Dependabot updates for your GitHub Enterprise Server instance before you can use this feature. For more information, see "Enabling Dependabot for your enterprise."

About version updates for dependencies

You enable Dependabot version updates by checking a dependabot.yml configuration file in to your repository's .github directory. Dependabot then raises pull requests to keep the dependencies you configure up-to-date. For each package manager's dependencies that you want to update, you must specify the location of the package manifest files and how often to check for updates to the dependencies listed in those files. For information about enabling security updates, see "Configuring Dependabot security updates."

When you first enable version updates, you may have many dependencies that are outdated and some may be many versions behind the latest version. Dependabot checks for outdated dependencies as soon as it's enabled. You may see new pull requests for version updates within minutes of adding the configuration file, depending on the number of manifest files for which you configure updates. Dependabot will also run an update on subsequent changes to the configuration file.

Dependabot may also create pull requests when you change a manifest file after an update has failed. This is because changes to a manifest, such as removing the dependency that caused the update to fail, may cause the newly triggered update to succeed.

To keep pull requests manageable and easy to review, Dependabot raises a maximum of five pull requests to start bringing dependencies up to the latest version. If you merge some of these first pull requests before the next scheduled update, remaining pull requests will be opened on the next update, up to that maximum. You can change the maximum number of open pull requests by setting the open-pull-requests-limit configuration option.

For more information, see "Customizing dependency updates."

By default only direct dependencies that are explicitly defined in a manifest are kept up to date by Dependabot version updates. You can choose to receive updates for indirect dependencies defined in lock files. For more information, see "Configuration options for the dependabot.yml file."

When running security or version updates, some ecosystems must be able to resolve all dependencies from their source to verify that updates have been successful. If your manifest or lock files contain any private dependencies, Dependabot must be able to access the location at which those dependencies are hosted. Organization owners can grant Dependabot access to private repositories containing dependencies for a project within the same organization. For more information, see "Managing security and analysis settings for your organization." You can configure access to private registries in a repository's dependabot.yml configuration file. For more information, see "Configuration options for the dependabot.yml file." Additionally, Dependabot doesn't support private GitHub dependencies for all package managers. For more information, see "About Dependabot version updates" and "GitHub language support."

Enabling Dependabot version updates

You enable Dependabot version updates by committing a dependabot.yml configuration file to your repository.

  1. Create a dependabot.yml configuration file in the .github directory of your repository. You can use the snippet below as a starting point. For information about the options you can use to customize how Dependabot maintains your repositories, see "Configuration options for the dependabot.yml file."

    # To get started with Dependabot version updates, you'll need to specify which
    # package ecosystems to update and where the package manifests are located.
    version: 2
    - package-ecosystem: "" # See documentation for possible values
      directory: "/" # Location of package manifests
        interval: "weekly"
  2. Add a version. This key is mandatory. The file must start with version: 2.

  3. Optionally, if you have dependencies in a private registry, add a registries section containing authentication details. For more information, see registries in "Configuration options for the dependabot.yml file."

  4. Add an updates section, with an entry for each package manager you want Dependabot to monitor. This key is mandatory. You use it to configure how Dependabot updates the versions or your project's dependencies. Each entry configures the update settings for a particular package manager.

  5. For each package manager, use:

    • package-ecosystem to specify the package manager. For more information about the supported package managers, see package-ecosystem in "Configuration options for the dependabot.yml file."
    • directory to specify the location of the manifest or other definition files. For more information, see directory in "Configuration options for the dependabot.yml file."
    • schedule.interval to specify how often to check for new versions. For more information, see schedule.interval in "Configuration options for the dependabot.yml file."
  6. Check the dependabot.yml configuration file in to the .github directory of the repository.

Example dependabot.yml file

The example dependabot.yml file below configures version updates for two package managers: npm and Docker. When this file is checked in, Dependabot checks the manifest files on the default branch for outdated dependencies. If it finds outdated dependencies, it will raise pull requests against the default branch to update the dependencies.

# Basic `dependabot.yml` file with
# minimum configuration for two package managers

version: 2
  # Enable version updates for npm
  - package-ecosystem: "npm"
    # Look for `package.json` and `lock` files in the `root` directory
    directory: "/"
    # Check the npm registry for updates every day (weekdays)
      interval: "daily"

  # Enable version updates for Docker
  - package-ecosystem: "docker"
    # Look for a `Dockerfile` in the `root` directory
    directory: "/"
    # Check for updates once a week
      interval: "weekly"

In the example above, if the Docker dependencies were very outdated, you might want to start with a daily schedule until the dependencies are up-to-date, and then drop back to a weekly schedule.

Enabling version updates on forks

If you want to enable version updates on forks, there's an extra step. Version updates are not automatically enabled on forks when a dependabot.yml configuration file is present. This ensures that fork owners don't unintentionally enable version updates when they pull changes including a dependabot.yml configuration file from the original repository.

On a fork, you also need to explicitly enable Dependabot.

  1. On your GitHub Enterprise Server instance, navigate to the main page of the repository.

  2. Under your repository name, click Settings. If you cannot see the "Settings" tab, select the dropdown menu, then click Settings.

    Screenshot of a repository header showing the tabs. The "Settings" tab is highlighted by a dark orange outline.

  3. In the "Security" section of the sidebar, click Code security and analysis.

  4. Under "Code security and analysis", to the right of "Dependabot version updates", click Enable to allow Dependabot to initiate version updates.

Checking the status of version updates

After you enable version updates, the Dependabot tab in the dependency graph for the repository is populated. This tab shows which package managers Dependabot is configured to monitor and when Dependabot last checked for new versions.

Screenshot of the Dependency graph page. A tab, titled "Dependabot", is highlighted with an orange outline.

For information, see "Listing dependencies configured for version updates."

Disabling Dependabot version updates

You can disable version updates entirely by deleting the dependabot.yml file from your repository. More usually, you want to disable updates temporarily for one or more dependencies, or package managers.

  • Package managers: disable by setting open-pull-requests-limit: 0 or by commenting out the relevant package-ecosystem in the configuration file.
  • Specific dependencies: disable by adding ignore attributes for packages or applications that you want to exclude from updates.

When you disable dependencies, you can use wild cards to match a set of related libraries. You can also specify which versions to exclude. This is particularly useful if you need to block updates to a library, pending work to support a breaking change to its API, but want to get any security fixes to the version you use.

Example disabling version updates for some dependencies

The example dependabot.yml file below includes examples of the different ways to disable updates to some dependencies, while allowing other updates to continue.

# `dependabot.yml` file with updates
# disabled for Docker and limited for npm

version: 2
  # Configuration for Dockerfile
  - package-ecosystem: "docker"
    directory: "/"
      interval: "weekly"
      # Disable all pull requests for Docker dependencies
    open-pull-requests-limit: 0

  # Configuration for npm
  - package-ecosystem: "npm"
    directory: "/"
      interval: "weekly"
      # Ignore updates to packages that start with 'aws'
      # Wildcards match zero or more arbitrary characters
      - dependency-name: "aws*"
      # Ignore some updates to the 'express' package
      - dependency-name: "express"
        # Ignore only new versions for 4.x and 5.x
        versions: ["4.x", "5.x"]
      # For all packages, ignore all patch updates
      - dependency-name: "*"
        update-types: ["version-update:semver-patch"]

For more information about checking for existing ignore preferences, see "Configuration options for the dependabot.yml file."