Release Cycle

The Unified Astronomy Thesaurus is an open reference vocabulary for the Astronomy community at large.  As our community’s needs change and the field evolves the UAT will undergo regular revisions and updates.  To minimize disruption while changes occur, we have outlined a release cycle and roadmap. For more information about how changes are evaluated, read our Curation Process.


The UAT is implemented by a variety of information providers and in multiple contexts.  The UAT follows specific versioning guidelines to help all users understand the scope of change from one release to the next. Versioning also helps users determine whether or not implementing UAT updates may require changes in their particular applications.  For more details about UAT versions, see the Versioning document.

Release Cycle

To ensure that the UAT continues to represent the latest research in our fields, the Thesaurus will be reviewed for potential updates  at least once a year. This schedule will allow us to analyze the literature to detect new concepts and rethink the UAT’s existing structure. Community feedback and use cases may dictate a more frequent update cycle (e.g. quarterly updates).

Community Feedback (Continually ongoing)

Feedback is accepted from the astronomical community on a continual basis year round.  Suggestions are tracked and managed on GitHub. For more information read the UAT Curation Process document for more information on this process.

The UAT Curator will make every effort to respond to feedback within one week of receiving it.  In most cases, the Curator will need to additional comments on a suggestion, either from the original commenter, a subject expert, or from an editor.  This discussion is critical to evaluating suggestions and new concepts for inclusion in the Unified Astronomy Thesaurus, and it is expected that anyone who provides feedback will be available for reasonable consultation.

Evaluation and Implementation Period (May – November)

Although feedback and discussion should occur continuously throughout the year the primary evaluation period for new suggestions starts in May.  From May through November, the UAT Curator will actively seek out additional comments and contributions on suggestions they have received, including reaching out to editors and subject experts.  An Issue marked as “responseRequired” that has not received additional input for at least 30 days will be automatically closed. Automatically closed Issues can be reopened in the future should comments be added.

Additionally, during these evaluation and implementation months, the UAT Curator will seek to find consensus on suggestions, and begin to accept or reject them as appropriate.  The Curator will also begin to implement accepted changes in the UAT management tool in preparation for the eventual release.

Scope of Changes Determined (major: July 31, minor: Oct 30, patch: Nov 15)

During the second half of the year and occurring concurrently with the evaluation and implementation phase, the Curator will begin to finalize the scope of content for the next UAT release.

The Curator will identify all major changes to be addressed in the upcoming release by July 31st.  Additional major suggestions can be submitted after July 31st (community feedback is accepted continually), but the Curator retains the right to delay action on those suggestions until the following year’s release cycle.

Similarly, the Curator will identify all minor changes for the upcoming release by October 30th, and all patch changes for the upcoming release by November 15th.  After those dates, minor or patch suggestions may still be placed under consideration, but the Curator retains the right to delay action on those suggestions until the following year’s release cycle.

Any suggestions in open GitHub Issues that are not included in these scope definitions will also be considered again during the following year’s release cycle.

In early November, the Curator will post on the UAT blog, notify stakeholders, and email members of the UAT Users list regarding the scope of major and minor changes to be expected in the upcoming release of the UAT. This information may not be wholly comprehensive, especially as regards to minor and patch changes, but can provide users and stakeholders a chance to evaluate how the new release may affect their internal implementation and give them time to register any potential issues with the UAT Curator.

Releasing the New Version (December)

All updates and changes to the UAT will be frozen no later than one week before the release date (typically early to mid December).  By this date, all accepted suggestions will be implemented in the UAT management tool, and all related Issues will be fully closed.

During the week between this freeze and the release date (typically in mid December), the UAT Curator will write the patch notes and develop the various files necessary for a smooth release.  More information about the UAT release procedures can be found on the release preparation checklist.

On launch day (typically mid to late December), the UAT Curator will release the new version on GitHub, and upload all files as necessary to push the new version out, and verify that the new version is working properly.  The Curator will also send an email announcing the new version to the relevant email lists.