Publishing java libraries to Maven Central, the manual

Table of Contents

What is Sonatype and why is it needed?

Sonatypeis a company that provides a staging repository, which performs validation and allows to push the builds that pass all checks to the Central repo. Without it, basically, you can’t easily publish anything to the Central easily, unless you’re an Apache project or similar.

Getting started

Follow their getting started guide to set up the needed credentials. This should be easy - you create a JIRA account and you create a ticket in JIRA to claim your namespace (groupId in Maven terms). If you have a github account, for example,, you’ll want to claim com.github.chhh.

GPG signing

You’ll need to set up and publish your GPG key for signing artifacts. This is described here.

In short you’ll need to install gpg or gpg2. I did it on Windows and already had a working gpg that came with git installation. So I happily used that to generate my key with (create it with a passphrase!):

gpg --gen-key

Make sure to check that the generated key does not have sub keys for signing. First issue gpg --list-keys, the output should be like:

$ gpg --list-keys
pub   2048R/DA123C12 2012-01-24
uid                  Dmitry Avtonomov (chhh) <>
sub   2048R/3E123123 2012-01-24

Notice, that there is one pub key and one sub key. You want this sub key to not be Usage: C type. gpg --edit-key DA123C12

gpg (GnuPG) 1.4.20; Copyright (C) 2015 Free Software Foundation, Inc.
This is free software: you are free to change and redistribute it.
There is NO WARRANTY, to the extent permitted by law.

Secret key is available.

pub  2048R/DA100C23  created: 2012-01-24  expires: never       usage: SC
                     trust: ultimate      validity: ultimate
sub  2048R/3E123123  created: 2012-01-24  expires: never       usage: E
[ultimate] (1). Dmitry Avtonomov (chhh) <>

In this case the sub key is usage: E, it’s used for encryption only, so we’re good to go, otherwise you’d need to delete or revoke it. Published the key with:

gpg --keyserver hkp:// --send-keys <key-id>

Windows caveat

The previous steps created the keychain file in c:/Users/<username>/.gnupg. However, when I later installed the native windows gpg from I’ve found that it used a different default path and I could not list the key anymore. Addind a new environment variable GNUPGHOME and set it to C:\Users\<username>\.gnupg. Now the gpg that was installed in windows could read the old keychain, which meant maven could now use that key to sign files.

Configuring Maven to know where to get the signing key

Check out your <maven-install-apth>/conf directory. There should be a settings.xml file. Copy that over to your <user-home>/.m2, unless you already have it there. Add the following to <profiles>:


It’s ok to have your passphrase set here as this is your user-specific configuration file. If you don’t want to specify that, however, there will be an option for you to provide that passphrase every time you publish.

Configuring Maven to know the credentials for Sonatype servers

You’ll provide the log-in credentials in the same settings.xml maven file in ~/.m2 directory. If you don’t want to provide the actual username and password, log in to your account at In the top right corner click Log-In, then click your username and select Profile. On the new screen there’s a dropdown with two choices: Summary and User Token. Select the user token, it will give you the info. In the settings.xml file add:


Satisfying requirements to pass all checks upon submission to Sonatype

There’s a lot of meta-info required to satisfy all the requirements. As you will be using the same groupId for all your artifacts, it’s easier to put all the extra information to a parent POM. You can find an example parent project here: This project consists only of the POM file, specifying the credentials, basic info and publishing locations. It adds some to the release target as well.

It’s ok to just clone that repo and change the information to what you like. You will set this POM as the <parent> of the projects you wish to publish to Central. As it will be the parent POM, anyone who will want to build your artifacts will need to have that POM, so the first thing is to publish this project to Central by itself.

Publishing parent POM project to Central

We’ll be using maven-release plugin. Make sure that:

  • You have SCM information configured.
  • In this parent POM you set the version to something like 0.1-SNAPSHOT.

The release plugin will use that information to create the build. It will remove the SNAPSHOT part, build the project, create a new tag in SCM, push everything to remote, bump up the version in POM and re-add SNAPSHOT back to it. Now execute: mvn release:prepare mvn release:perform If you encounter any problems with release:perform you can always do mvn release:rollback to undo any changes done by release:prepare.

Publishing the project to Central

In your actual project set the parent:


Notice how we used relativePath to give maven a hint at where to search for this POM. The parent project was resiging in a sibling directory next to the project directory in this case. Otherwise the POM would have to be in the parent directory of your project.

Principal Bioinformatics Scientist

My main research interests are data visualization and signal processing for mass spectrometry.