brew livecheck

The brew livecheck command finds the newest version of a formula or cask’s software by checking upstream. Livecheck has strategies to identify versions from various sources, such as Git repositories, websites, etc.

Behavior

When livecheck isn’t given instructions for how to check for upstream versions, it does the following by default:

  1. For formulae: Collect the stable, head, and homepage URLs, in that order (resources simply use their url). For casks: Collect the url and homepage URLs, in that order.
  2. Determine if any strategies apply to the first URL. If not, try the next URL.
  3. If a strategy can be applied, use it to check for new versions.
  4. Return the newest version (or an error if versions could not be found at any available URLs).

It’s sometimes necessary to override this default behavior to create a working check. If a source doesn’t provide the newest version, we need to check a different one. If livecheck doesn’t correctly match version text, we need to provide an appropriate regex or strategy block.

This can be accomplished by adding a livecheck block to the formula/cask/resource. For more information on the available methods, please refer to the Livecheck class documentation.

Creating a check

  1. Use the debug output to understand the situation. brew livecheck --debug <formula>|<cask> provides information about which URLs livecheck tries, any strategies that apply, matched versions, etc.

  2. Research available sources to select a URL. Try removing the file name from stable/url to see if it provides a directory listing page. If that doesn’t work, try to find a page that links to the file (e.g. a download page). If it’s not possible to find the newest version on the website, try checking other sources from the formula/cask. When necessary, search for other sources outside of the formula/cask.

  3. Create a regex, if necessary. If the check works without a regex and wouldn’t benefit from having one, it’s usually fine to omit it. More information on creating regexes can be found in the regex guidelines section.

General guidelines

URL guidelines

Regex guidelines

The livecheck block regex restricts matches to a subset of the fetched content and uses a capture group around the version text.

Example livecheck blocks

The following examples cover a number of patterns that you may encounter. These are intended to be representative samples and can be easily adapted.

When in doubt, start with one of these examples instead of copy-pasting a livecheck block from a random formula/cask.

File names

When matching the version from a file name on an HTML page, we often restrict matching to href attributes. href=.*? will match the opening delimiter (", ') as well as any part of the URL before the file name.

livecheck do
  url "https://www.example.com/downloads/"
  regex(/href=.*?example[._-]v?(\d+(?:\.\d+)+)\.t/i)
end

We sometimes make this more explicit to exclude unwanted matches. URLs with a preceding path can use href=.*?/ and others can use href=["']?. For example, this is necessary when the page also contains unwanted files with a longer prefix (another-example-1.2.tar.gz).

Version directories

When checking a directory listing page, sometimes files are separated into version directories (e.g. 1.2.3/). In this case, we must identify versions from the directory names.

livecheck do
  url "https://www.example.com/releases/example/"
  regex(%r{href=["']?v?(\d+(?:\.\d+)+)/?["' >]}i)
end

Git tags

When the stable URL uses the Git strategy, the following example will only match tags like 1.2/v1.2, etc.

livecheck do
  url :stable
  regex(/^v?(\d+(?:\.\d+)+)$/i)
end

If tags include the software name as a prefix (e.g. example-1.2.3), it’s easy to modify the regex accordingly: /^example[._-]v?(\d+(?:\.\d+)+)$/i

Referenced formula/cask

A formula/cask can use the same check as another by using formula or cask.

livecheck do
  formula "another-formula"
end

The referenced formula/cask should be in the same tap, as a reference to a formula/cask from another tap will generate an error if the user doesn’t already have it tapped.

strategy blocks

If the upstream version format needs to be manipulated to match the formula/cask format, a strategy block can be used instead of a regex.

PageMatch strategy block

Here is a basic example, extracting a simple version from a page:

livecheck do
  url "https://example.org/my-app/download"
  regex(%r{href=.*?/MyApp-(\d+(?:\.\d+)*)\.zip}i)
  strategy :page_match
end

More complex versions can be handled by specifying a block.

livecheck do
  url "https://example.org/my-app/download"
  regex(%r{href=.*?/(\d+)/MyApp-(\d+(?:\.\d+)*)\.zip}i)
  strategy :page_match do |page, regex|
    match = page.match(regex)
    next if match.blank?

    "#{match[2]},#{match[1]}"
  end
end

In the example below, we’re scanning the contents of the homepage for a date format like 2020-01-01 and converting it into 20200101.

livecheck do
  url :homepage
  strategy :page_match do |page|
    page.scan(/href=.*?example[._-]v?(\d{4}-\d{2}-\d{2})\.t/i)
        .map { |match| match&.first&.gsub(/\D/, "") }
  end
end

The PageMatch strategy block style seen here also applies to any site-specific strategy that uses PageMatch internally.

HeaderMatch strategy block

A strategy block for HeaderMatch will try to parse a version from the filename (in the Content-Disposition header) and the final URL (in the Location header). If that doesn’t work, a regex can be specified.

livecheck do
  url "https://example.org/my-app/download/latest"
  regex(/MyApp-(\d+(?:\.\d+)*)\.zip/i)
  strategy :header_match
end

If the version depends on multiple header fields, a block can be specified.

livecheck do
  url "https://example.org/my-app/download/latest"
  strategy :header_match do |headers|
    v = headers["content-disposition"][/MyApp-(\d+(?:\.\d+)*)\.zip/i, 1]
    id = headers["location"][%r{/(\d+)/download$}i, 1]
    next if v.blank? || id.blank?

    "#{v},#{id}"
  end
end

Git strategy block

A strategy block for Git is a bit different, as the block receives an array of tag strings instead of a page content string. Similar to the PageMatch example, this is converting tags with a date format like 2020-01-01 into 20200101.

livecheck do
  url :stable
  strategy :git do |tags|
    tags.filter_map { |tag| tag[/^(\d{4}-\d{2}-\d{2})$/i, 1]&.gsub(/\D/, "") }
  end
end

GithubLatest strategy block

A strategy block for GithubLatest receives the parsed JSON data from the GitHub API for a repository’s “latest” release, along with a regex. When a regex is not provided in a livecheck block, the strategy’s default regex is passed into the strategy block instead.

By default, the strategy matches version text in the release’s tag or title but a strategy block can be used to check any of the fields in the release JSON. The logic in the following strategy block is similar to the default behavior but only checks the release tag instead, for the sake of demonstration:

livecheck do
  url :stable
  regex(/^example[._-]v?(\d+(?:\.\d+)+)$/i)
  strategy :github_latest do |json, regex|
    match = json["tag_name"]&.match(regex)
    next if match.blank?

    match[1]
  end
end

You can find more information on the response JSON from this API endpoint in the related GitHub REST API documentation.

GithubReleases strategy block

A strategy block for GithubReleases receives the parsed JSON data from the GitHub API for a repository’s most recent releases, along with a regex. When a regex is not provided in a livecheck block, the strategy’s default regex is passed into the strategy block instead.

By default, the strategy matches version text in each release’s tag or title but a strategy block can be used to check any of the fields in the release JSON. The logic in the following strategy block is similar to the default behavior but only checks the release tag instead, for the sake of demonstration:

livecheck do
  url :stable
  regex(/^example[._-]v?(\d+(?:\.\d+)+)$/i)
  strategy :github_releases do |json, regex|
    json.map do |release|
      next if release["draft"] || release["prerelease"]

      match = release["tag_name"]&.match(regex)
      next if match.blank?

      match[1]
    end
  end
end

You can find more information on the response JSON from this API endpoint in the related GitHub REST API documentation.

Crate strategy block

A strategy block for Crate receives parsed JSON data from the registry API’s versions endpoint and either the provided or default strategy regex. The strategy uses the following logic by default, so this strategy block may be a good starting point for a modified approach:

livecheck do
  url :stable
  strategy :crate do |json, regex|
    json["versions"]&.map do |version|
      next if version["yanked"]
      next unless (match = version["num"]&.match(regex))

      match[1]
    end
  end
end

ElectronBuilder strategy block

A strategy block for ElectronBuilder fetches content at a URL and parses it as an electron-builder appcast in YAML format. It’s used for casks of macOS applications built using the Electron framework.

livecheck do
  url "https://example.org/my-app/latest-mac.yml"
  strategy :electron_builder
end

Json strategy block

A strategy block for Json receives parsed JSON data and, if provided, a regex. For example, if we have an object containing an array of objects with a version string, we can select only the members that match the regex and isolate the relevant version text as follows:

livecheck do
  url "https://www.example.com/example.json"
  regex(/^v?(\d+(?:\.\d+)+)$/i)
  strategy :json do |json, regex|
    json["versions"].select { |item| item["version"]&.match?(regex) }
                    .map { |item| item["version"][regex, 1] }
  end
end

Sparkle strategy block

A strategy block for Sparkle receives an item which has methods for the version, short_version, nice_version, url, channel and title. It expects a URL for an XML feed providing release information to a macOS application that self-updates using the Sparkle framework. This URL can be found within the app bundle as the SUFeedURL property in Contents/Info.plist or by using the find-appcast script. Run it with:

"$(brew --repository homebrew/cask)/developer/bin/find-appcast" '/path/to/application.app'

The default pattern for the Sparkle strategy is to generate "#{item.short_version},#{item.version}" from sparkle:shortVersionString and sparkle:version if both are set. In the example below, the url also includes a download ID which is needed:

livecheck do
  url "https://www.example.com/example.xml"
  strategy :sparkle do |item|
    "#{item.short_version},#{item.version}:#{item.url[%r{/(\d+)/[^/]+\.zip}i, 1]}"
  end
end

To use only one, specify &:version, &:short_version or &:nice_version:

livecheck do
  url "https://www.example.com/example.xml"
  strategy :sparkle, &:short_version
end

Xml strategy block

A strategy block for Xml receives an REXML::Document object and, if provided, a regex. For example, if the XML contains a versions element with nested version elements and their inner text contains the version string, we could extract it using a regex as follows:

livecheck do
  url "https://www.example.com/example.xml"
  regex(/v?(\d+(?:\.\d+)+)/i)
  strategy :xml do |xml, regex|
    xml.get_elements("versions//version").map { |item| item.text[regex, 1] }
  end
end

For more information on how to work with an REXML::Document object, please refer to the REXML::Document and REXML::Element documentation.

Yaml strategy block

A strategy block for Yaml receives parsed YAML data and, if provided, a regex. Borrowing the Json example, if we have an object containing an array of objects with a version string, we can select only the members that match the regex and isolate the relevant version text as follows:

livecheck do
  url "https://www.example.com/example.yaml"
  regex(/^v?(\d+(?:\.\d+)+)$/i)
  strategy :yaml do |yaml, regex|
    yaml["versions"].select { |item| item["version"]&.match?(regex) }
                    .map { |item| item["version"][regex, 1] }
  end
end

ExtractPlist strategy block

If no means are available online for checking which version of a macOS package is current, as a last resort the :extract_plist strategy will have brew livecheck download the artifact and retrieve its version string from contained .plist files.

livecheck do
  url :url
  strategy :extract_plist
end

A strategy block for ExtractPlist receives a hash containing keys for each found bundle identifier and items with methods for each version and short_version.

livecheck do
  url :url
  strategy :extract_plist do |items|
    items["com.example.MyApp"].short_version
  end
end

skip

Livecheck automatically skips some formulae/casks for a number of reasons (deprecated, disabled, etc.). However, on rare occasions we need to use a livecheck block to do a manual skip. The skip method takes a string containing a very brief reason for skipping.

livecheck do
  skip "No version information available"
end
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