Renovate dependency updades

We use Renovate to automatically create pull requests to update dependendies. Renovate is configured to create these in the first week of each month.

It will ask teams to review these dependency updates, depending on code ownership.

How to review an update pull request

As a reviewer of a Renovate pull request, you need to make an assessment of:

  • The usefulness of the update: Updates are considered useful by default, but e.g. a change to the README does not need to be merged.
  • The amount and areas of testing needed, which is determined by:
    • The risk of updating this dependency, which is determined by:
      • The dependency type (dependency or devDependency): devDependencies generally only break the entire build or app, rarely individual features.
      • The semver type: major (breaking), minor (feature), patch (bug fix)
      • The actual changes, which are determined by:
        • The changelog (usually inlined in the pull request description)
        • The commits made between the version (linked from the pull request description)
      • The amount of automatic testing we have in this area (either automatically running on the branch in CI, or manually)
      • Whether the breaking changes would be detected by the TypeScript type checker Note: This only applies to packages that are written in TypeScript like rxjs, since otherwise the types may not have been updated yet and may be "lying".
      • Where/how the dependency is used: Are we actually using the feature that has a breaking change? Tip: The PR description includes a badge for Sourcegraph search results that can help finding usages of the package.
  • The amount of migration work (changes to our codebase) needed
  • Select packages: Whether the update is updating to a nightly/prerelease build. These are not intended to be merged, but if the build fails for them because of a bug, it is beneficial for us to file an issue on the package maintainers.

Once you assessed these aspects, you can make an informed decision to:

  • Merge the pull request as-is
  • Close it
  • Make the needed commits on the branch to migrate, then merge
  • Request changes on the pull request with a summary of the migration work neeeded, postponing that work but signalling that somebody already reviewed this pull request. Everyone should take a look at open Renovate pull requests that have been open for a while regularly.

When in doubt, you can ping your team on the pull request to get more eyes on it.


We heavily customize Renovate to save more time. Possible configurations include:

  • Setting different reviewers for certain dependencies
  • Grouping certain dependencies
  • Auto merging certain low-risk dependencies
  • Updating certain dependencies out-of-schedule as well
  • Assigning certain labels for easier filtering

If you see an opportunity to improve the configuration, raise a pull request to update the renovate.json in the repository or our configuration shared between repositories.