Customizing dependency updates

You can customize how GitHub Dependabot maintains your dependencies.

People with write permissions to a repository can configure GitHub Dependabot for the repository.

In this article

Did this doc help you?

Help us make these docs great!

All GitHub docs are open source. See something that's wrong or unclear? Submit a pull request.

Make a contribution

Or, learn how to contribute.

Note: GitHub Dependabot version updates are currently in beta and subject to change. To use the beta feature, check in a configuration file to tell GitHub Dependabot which dependencies to maintain for you. For details, see "Enabling and disabling version updates."

About customizing dependency updates

After you've enabled version updates, you can customize how GitHub Dependabot maintains your dependencies by adding further options to the dependabot.yml file. For example, you could:

  • Specify which day of the week to open pull requests for version updates: schedule.day
  • Set reviewers, assignees, and labels for each package manager: reviewers, assignees, and labels
  • Define a versioning strategy for changes to each manifest file: versioning-strategy
  • Change the maximum number of open pull requests for version updates from the default of 5: open-pull-requests-limit
  • Open pull requests for version updates to target a specific branch, instead of the default branch: target-branch

For more information about the configuration options, see "Configuration options for dependency updates."

When you update the dependabot.yml file in your repository, GitHub Dependabot runs an immediate check with the new configuration. Within minutes you will see an updated list of dependencies on the Dependabot tab, this may take longer if the repository has many dependencies. You may also see new pull requests for version updates. For more information, see "Listing dependencies configured for version updates."

Impact of configuration changes on security updates

If you customize the dependabot.yml file, you may notice some changes to the pull requests raised for security updates. These pull requests are always triggered by a security advisory for a dependency, rather than by the GitHub Dependabot schedule. However, they inherit relevant configuration settings from the dependabot.yml file unless you specify a different target branch for version updates.

For an example, see "Setting custom labels" below.

Modifying scheduling

When you set a daily update schedule, by default, GitHub Dependabot checks for new versions at 05:00 UTC. You can use schedule.time to specify an alternative time of day to check for updates (format: hh:mm).

The example dependabot.yml file below expands the npm configuration to specify when GitHub Dependabot should check for version updates to dependencies.

# dependabot.yml file with
# customized schedule for version updates

version: 2
updates:
  # Keep npm dependencies up to date
  - package-ecosystem: "npm"
    directory: "/"
    # Check the npm registry for updates at 2am UTC
    schedule:
      interval: "daily"
      time: "02:00"

Setting reviewers and assignees

By default, GitHub Dependabot raises pull requests without any reviewers or assignees.

You can use reviewers and assignees to specify reviewers and assignees for all pull requests raised for a package manager. When you specify a team, you must use the full team name, as if you were @mentioning the team (including the organization).

The example dependabot.yml file below changes the npm configuration so that all pull requests opened with version and security updates for npm will have two reviewers and one assignee.

# dependabot.yml file with
# reviews and an assignee for all npm pull requests

version: 2
updates:
  # Keep npm dependencies up to date
  - package-ecosystem: "npm"
    directory: "/"
    schedule:
      interval: "daily"
    # Raise all npm pull requests with reviewers
    reviewers:
      - "my-org/team-name"
      - "octocat"
    # Raise all npm pull requests with an assignee
    assignees:
      - "user-name"

Setting custom labels

By default, GitHub Dependabot raises all pull requests with the dependencies label. If more than one package manager is defined, Dependabot includes an additional label on each pull request. This indicates which language or ecosystem the pull request will update, for example: java for Gradle updates and submodules for git submodule updates. GitHub Dependabot creates these default labels automatically, as necessary in your repository.

You can use labels to override the default labels and specify alternative labels for all pull requests raised for a package manager. You can't create new labels in the dependabot.yml file, so the alternative labels must already exist in the repository.

The example dependabot.yml file below changes the npm configuration so that all pull requests opened with version and security updates for npm will have custom labels. It also changes the Docker configuration to check for version updates against a custom branch and to raise pull requests with custom labels against that custom branch. The changes to Docker will not affect security update pull requests because security updates are always made against the default branch.

Note: The new target-branch must contain a Dockerfile to update, otherwise this change will have the effect of disabling version updates for Docker.

# dependabot.yml file with
# customized npm configuration

version: 2
updates:
  # Keep npm dependencies up to date
  - package-ecosystem: "npm"
    directory: "/"
    schedule:
      interval: "daily"
    # Raise all npm pull requests with custom labels
    labels:
      - "npm dependencies"
      - "triage-board"

    # Keep Docker dependencies up to date
  - package-ecosystem: "docker"
    directory: "/"
    schedule:
      interval: "daily"
    # Raise pull requests for Docker version updates
    # against the "develop" branch. The Docker configuration
    # no longer affects security update pull requests.
    target-branch: "develop"
    # Use custom labels on pull requests for Docker version updates
    labels:
      - "Docker dependencies"
      - "triage-board"

More examples

For more examples, see "Configuration options for dependency updates."

Did this doc help you?

Help us make these docs great!

All GitHub docs are open source. See something that's wrong or unclear? Submit a pull request.

Make a contribution

Or, learn how to contribute.