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Dependency Management

Bitwarden uses Renovate for automating dependency updates. Renovate will automatically create pull requests for dependencies on a weekly cadence. Security updates will generate pull requests immediately.


Bitwarden's repositories fall under two categories: team-owned and shared.

Team-owned repositories

Team-owned repositories are "owned" by a single team from a dependency standpoint. The assigned team is responsible for reviewing, approving, and merging dependency updates. Some reasons a repository might be team-owned are that it's primarily developed by that team, or to balance out the number of dependencies teams have to manage.

Some examples of team-owned repositories are directory-connector, which is owned by the Admin Console team, and key-connector, which is owned by the Auth team.

Shared repositories

Shared repositories don't have any direct owner. Instead each dependency is allocated to a team. The team assigned to a dependency is responsible for reviewing, approving, and merging that dependency. For major upgrades the team is responsible for coordinating the upgrade with the other teams.

Examples of shared repositories are server and clients.

Example PR

Screenshot of a  Renovate PR

Example Renovate PR

Renovate PRs contain several areas of interest. The above example PR contains two grouped dependencies. The PR proposes to upgrade the dependencies from 6.0.21 to 7.0.12. The age of the version is 13 days, and 13% of repositories have adopted this version. Renovate has seen a 74% test success rate across Renovate-managed repositories and has a low confidence in the change. For more details read Renovate documentation about Merge Confidence.


Renovate is currently scheduled to automatically create pull requests every 2 weeks. The goal of our dependency management process is for the teams to review and merge the opened pull requests in the same 2-week cadence. To avoid a large backlog of PRs and out-of-date packages accumulating.

Major upgrades

Major upgrades are an exception to this time frame, as these can take longer to coordinate. The team should make an effort to coordinate scheduled major updates and resolve deprecations in advance.

A Renovate PR may contain a single dependency or a group of related dependencies. At Bitwarden, we typically group dependencies we know are related and should be upgraded at the same time. We try to keep groups as small as possible to minimize the impact and increase confidence in approving and merging.

Jira ticket

A Jira ticket will automatically be created for each Renovate PR that is opened. It will be assigned to the appropriate team based on the dependency ownership.

The Jira ticket should be used to track the work through sprint planning, prioritization, review, and testing.


A typical dependency workflow involves the following steps:

  1. Move the Jira ticket to In Progress.
  2. Read the proposed changes.
  3. Review the release notes of each dependency, for each released version between the current and the proposed upgrade. Identify if there are any deprecations or breaking changes affecting our code.
    1. For breaking changes, either resolve them yourself, or for major changes, coordinate with the other teams.
    2. For deprecations, create high priority Jira tickets on the affected teams' backlogs with a due date at least one sprint before the next scheduled major release of the dependency.
  4. Verify CI status.
  5. If test coverage is lacking, check out locally and manually confirm a few key areas.
  6. Review the proposed code changes and approve the PR.
  7. Write a Jira ticket containing testing notes for QA.
    • Testing notes should include:
      • What areas of the codebase are affected by the dependency to help isolate future problems.
      • Recommendation for manual QA testing only if the developer identifies this as a high-risk update.
  8. Merge the PR.
  9. Assign the Jira ticket to QA.

If you need to change the code to resolve any issues, please tag a team member for the final review.

Type Definitions

Many of our client dependency packages have corresponding type definition dependencies (e.g. @types/jest for our Jest dependencies). These packages do not contain any business logic.

In order to streamline the process and avoid unnecessary QA time, it is sufficient to handle these by ensuring that all CI jobs pass successfully, merging the PR, and marking the ticket as Done.

QA testing

By default, dependency updates do not undergo individual testing by QA. However, we do want our QA teams to be aware of the changes so that they can react appropriately if problems occur during regression testing. For this reason, we assign each dependency ticket to our QA team for review, along with a recommendation for manual testing when necessary.

If the QA engineer agrees that manual testing is not required, they will mark the ticket as Done.

If the QA engineer or the developer recommends manual testing, QA will perform the testing with the scope defined in the testing notes, marking the ticket Done only when testing is successful.


In the event QA finds a regression, the developer is responsible for assessing the impact and either immediately revert the update or resolve the regression in a new PR.

Closing irrelevant PRs

Sometimes Renovate will create PRs for dependencies that we are currently unable to upgrade for various reasons. For example, contributing-docs depends on docusaurus, which supports specific versions of react. We cannot upgrade react until docusaurus supports it.

In those cases the team can comment on the PR with a reason for not yet upgrading and either close or defer it until a later date. If a team closes a PR it is expected that its members monitor the dependency and revisiting the upgrade in the future.

Renovate configuration

Renovate is configured by a .github/renovate.json file in each repository. We follow an internal template for consistency. The template is available at the template repository.

Renovate uses a concept called PackageRules that allows us to specify ownership of dependencies and ensure the appropriate team is added as reviewers. Below is an example assigning @angular/core to the Platform team.

"matchPackageNames": ["@angular/core"],
"description": "Platform owned dependencies",
"commitMessagePrefix": "[deps] Platform:",
"reviewers": ["team:team-platform-dev"]

For repositories maintained by a single team there is no need to use packageRules to assign ownership. Instead ensure appropriate code owners are set up.