Go Module Rename & V2 Release

Today, I’m working on a project that intends to both rename a Go module and cut a v2 release (all while keeping main as the default branch). Why do both? Essentially rebranding without losing existing links.

In any case, before attempting this level of shenanigans, I wanted to make sure that it worked (spoiler alert: it did). Below are the steps I followed that got me there using a dummy repository:

  1. Have existing module at some v1.x.x release.

    I waited until pkg.go.dev picked up the changes to be sure, but this could also be verified by querying the Go module proxy:

    $ curl https://proxy.golang.org/github.com/rodaine/modulemagic@v/list
  2. Cut a v1 branch off main

    For support reasons, we intend to still maintain the v1.x.x releases for any sort of bug fixes and the like, just not new features. Splitting the trunk to a v1 branch allows that git history to continue. Tags are independent of branches and are tied directly to a commit so this is free and has no impact on the Go module.

    To be on the safe side, I also set up GitHub branch protections on both main and v1 to make sure these branches aren’t accidentally damaged. GitHub (blessedly) remembers everything, so recovery is always possible, but better to avoid that kind of “oh, s#!%” moment if you can. There’s also a beta for something called repository rulesets which lets you protect a pattern of tags or branches with similar rules provided by the branch protections. Worth checking that out as well. Don’t want someone accidentally removing or changing a tag.

  3. Create v2 in a new branch off main

    This is a temporary v2 branch for the new code, so in case we have issues getting everything squared away, main hasn’t (yet) been polluted. Here we replace the go.mod import path with the new module name suffixed with “/v2”, and update the code accordingly. At this point, make sure CI is still functional.

    I would not tag the v2.0.0 release on this branch. To avoid rebase/merge situations, we only want to add tags to commits on main (or, for legacy support, on v1). Unless we get lucky with a fast-forward, tags changing references will potentially misalign with go.mod.sum and cause a world of hurt downstream.

  4. Rename, merge & release v2.0.0

    Once satisfied with the code, use the GitHub repository settings UI to rename the repo to the new desired module name. GitHub automatically maintains redirects from the old name to the new one. Pleasantly, it maintains redirects for the entire name history of a repository. (This will be the third rename of this repository, and I strongly don’t recommend ever having to do this if you can avoid it.)

    Merge the v2 branch into main, and tag the HEAD commit as v2.0.0. You can once again verify this on the module proxy:

    $ curl https://proxy.golang.org/github.com/rodaine/renamedmodule/v2/@v/list
  5. Revel in your Go module chicanery

    🎉 ~ Despite the two modules being collocated in the same repository, go get blocks fetching the original module as v2 and the new module as v1 due to the name mismatch in the go.mod files. pkg.go.dev takes its sweet time updating, but will eventually resolve the new module.