To request changes to these standards, file an RFC.

Writing change-controlled documentation

Change-controlled documents require approval from a Change Control Board (CCB) before they can be released. Data Management documents must be approved by the DM CCB using the RFC process (see LDM-294). Project-level documents must be approved by the Project CCB. Overall, the project-wide change control process is described in LPM-19 and the process for managing documents is described in LPM-51.

This page describes the specific development and release processes for change-controlled documents produced by DM:

Additional subprocedures and references:

Document formats

Change controlled documents can be written as Word documents or as LaTeX projects in GitHub repositories.

LaTeX is the preferred format for DM documents. Reasons to create a Word document instead are:

  • When individuals responsible for writing and maintaining a document are uncomfortable with LaTeX and Git.
  • When a document contains “Sensitive” or “Highly Sensitive” information (per LPM-51 §2).

LaTeX documents

LaTeX documents must use the lsstdoc document class provided by the lsst-texmf package. The source content for LaTeX documents must be managed by Git and hosted in the LSST organization on GitHub ( A document’s GitHub repository is named after the document’s handle (see for example).

Word documents

The project’s template for Word documents is available as Document-9224 in DocuShare. Due to their nature, Word documents are not managed in Git repositories. The release process described on this page is explicitly for Git-based documents, but the principles still apply (DM’s Git-based release workflow is compatible with the project’s general workflow described in LPM-51). Where the release procedure calls for a DocuShare upload, provide both the rendered PDF and the original Word file to the DM documentalist.

LPM-51 recommends that draft documents always be uploaded to DocuShare at least every three months if there are draft changes. This guideline is especially important for Word documents that do not benefit from GitHub’s collaborative features.

Drafting workflow

Write change-controlled documents using DM’s standard workflow. That is:

  1. Create a ticket branch from master.
  2. Work on the ticket branch.
  3. Have the ticket peer-reviewed.
  4. Rebase and merge the ticket branch to master.

Merging to master does not denote acceptance by a CCB. Instead, it adds to the changeset that will be included in the next CCB review (see next).

Releasing a new version from the master branch

Follow these steps to submit a document to the CCB and release a new baselined version:

  1. Check out the head of the master branch and follow the procedure in Uploading to DocuShare.

    You can get the PDF for the DocuShare upload either by building the document locally or downloading it from the document’s landing page at https://<handle>

  2. Submit a request to the CCB. The procedure depends on the CCB:

    • For project documents, create an LCR with a pointer to the new document version in DocuShare.
    • For DM documents, create an RFC with a pointer to the new document in DocuShare. Set the JIRA state to “flagged” to notify the DM CCB.
  3. Create a release branch based off the same commit as the DocuShare tag:

    • For a project document:

      git checkout -b tickets/LCR-<N>
      git push -u
    • For a DM document:

      git checkout -b tickets/RFC-<N>
      git push -u

    Replace <N> with the LCR or RFC number.

  4. When the CCB responds, they may ask for changes. In general, use a ticket branch to address these changes. Multiple people may address separate sets of requests in parallel with multiple ticket branches. Merge these ticket branches back into the release branch. For example:

    git checkout tickets/RFC-<N>
    git checkout -b tickets/DM-<M>
    # edit and commit
    git checkout tickets/RFC-<N>
    git pull
    git checkout tickets/DM-<M>
    git rebase -i tickets/RFC-<N>
    git checkout tickets/RFC-<N>
    git merge --no-ff tickets/DM-<M>

    For extremely minor changes (on the scale of a typo), you may commit directly to the release branch rather than create a JIRA ticket. Exercise caution not to push a commit that breaks the LaTeX build (you may not revert a commit already pushed to a release branch on GitHub).

    When the issues are addressed, notify the CCB:

    • For a project document, create a new DocuShare upload and notify the CCB.
    • For a DM document, create a comment on the RFC confirming the changes and link to the https://<handle><n> landing page for the release branch. You don’t need to create intermediate DocuShare versions for the DM CCB.

    Repeat this step for each round of CCB feedback.

  5. When the CCB approves the document, create a release:

    1. Make two commits to the head of the release branch. In the first commit:

      • Update document’s change record. The Project librarian or DM release manager, through the CCB, determines the document’s semantic version.

      In the second commit:

      • Remove the lsstdraft option from the document class.
      • Set the \date command using a YYYY-MM-DD format.
    2. Create a new DocuShare upload. At this stage, the Project librarian will review the change record’s content (for project documents). If changes are needed, repeat the previous step and this one.

    3. Once the Project librarian or DM documentalist has uploaded the document and made it the new preferred version, create a semantic version tag at the same commit as the DocuShare tag:

      git tag -a v<major>.<minor>
      git push --tags

      In your command, replace <major>.<minor> with the semantic version.

      Format the Git tag message as:


      The URL should point to the DocuShare version (same as the DocuShare tag you created in step 5.2 above).

    4. Backport the amendment commits made on the release branch back to the master branch:

      1. Create a user branch from the master branch:

        git checkout master
        git checkout -b u/<username>/v<major>.<minor>-backport
      2. Cherry-pick commits from the release branch onto the new backport branch. For example:

        git cherry-pick <commit-sha>

        Do not backport the commit that removed the lsstdraft option and set the \date.

      3. Push the backport branch to GitHub for continuous integration validation, rebase, and merge to master. For example:

        git checkout master
        git pull
        git checkout u/<username>/v<major>.<minor>-backport
        git rebase -i master
        git push -u  # --force
        git checkout master
        git merge --no-ff u/<username>/v<major>.<minor>-backport
        git push

Hotfixing a released document

The procedure above (Releasing a new version from the master branch) describes how to make a new version of a document from the master branch. Sometimes it is necessary to hotfix a released document to fix a typo or make a similar minor change. In these cases you may not want to make a new release from the master branch because master has substantive, and unrelated, new content. Instead, you may hotfix a document from the release branch.


If no changes have been merged to master since the document was released, you can follow the regular procedure for Releasing a new version from the master branch.

Follow these steps to hotfix a document:

  1. Check out the head of the release branch for the version being fixed:

    • For a project document:

      git checkout tickets/LCR-<prev>
    • For a DM document:

      git checkout tickets/RFC-<prev>

    <prev> is the RFC or LCR number of the document release being fixed.

  2. Create a ticket branch (the JIRA ticket is scoped for implementing the fix and coordinating the release):

    git checkout -b tickets/DM-<N>
    git push -u
  3. Commit fixes onto that tickets/DM-<N> branch and push to GitHub.

  4. Follow the steps in Releasing a new version from the master branch, noting that the base branch is now tickets/DM-<N>, not master. In the last step, the amendment commits (such as those on the tickets/DM-<N> branch and on the release branch) are still backported to master. The hotfix release branch is not merged onto the previous release branch.

Uploading to DocuShare

Follow these steps to upload a draft or released document to DocuShare:

  1. Send the PDF of the document to a person able to upload to DocuShare:

    • For project documents, email the PDF to the LSST librarian.
    • For DM documents, send a message to the #dm-docushare Slack channel. If the built PDF is not available from the landing page (because it is a Word document) you can share the PDF through Slack itself. A DM documentalist will process your request.
  2. Wait for the documentalist or librarian to upload the document and verify that it appears on the Version page of the document on DocuShare. You can find the document version page with the short link<handle>*. For example,*.

  3. Tag the commit that produced the DocuShare upload. This tag is formatted as docushare-v<N> where <N> is the version number for that document’s handle. This is the number of the upload shown on the document’s DocuShare version page (see note).

    git tag -a docushare-v<N>
    git push --tags

    Format the Git tag message as:

    DocuShare v<N><...>/<filename>

    The version URL in the commit message is the full URL of that version in DocuShare (see note).


The number <N> in the docushare-v<N> tag is the number that appears in the Version column of the document’s version page. You can get to a document’s version page using the * shortlink (for example*).

The version URL used in the body of the tag message is the URL that the version number links to on the document’s version page. Get this URL by selecting the version number link and using your browser’s Copy Link command.

See also

DocuShare tags (API reference).

Summary of the Git tag and branch API

In the change-controlled documentation Git workflow, branches and tags form an API that is used by DM’s infrastructure to automate documentation management. This section summarizes the intents of each type of branch and tag.

DocuShare tags

DocuShare tags are formatted as docushare-v<N> where <N> corresponds to a document version number in DocuShare. DocuShare version numbers increment by one each time a new version of a document for a given handle is uploaded to DocuShare. Note that DocuShare version numbers are distinct from semantic version numbers.

See Uploading to DocuShare for details on how the tag is made.

Semantic version tags

Semantic version tags are formatted as v<major>.<minor>. The meanings of semantic document versions are described in LPM-51.

Semantic versions are determined when the CCB baselines a document. For project documents, the LSST project librarian determines the version number. For DM documents, the DM release manager determines the version.

By definition, for each semantic version tag there is always a corresponding DocuShare tag at the same commit.

On LSST the Docs, the default version of a document shown at the root URL (for example, is always the most recent semantic version.

See Releasing a new version from the master branch for details on how the tag is made.

Release branches

Submissions to the DM CCB have an associated RFC and submissions to the Project CCB have an associated LCR. Work related to a release is done on a release branch named after the RFC or LCR number: tickets/RFC-N or tickets/LCR-N. These release branches are never merged back to the master branch. Instead, amendments are backported to master using git cherry-pick.

Note that because creating an RFC or LCR requires a document in DocuShare, release branches are only created after the initial DocuShare tag is created.

master branch

The master branch is the main development branch where individual ticket branches are integrated. The document on the master branch is understood to be peer-reviewed but not baselined by the CCB.