In GitLab 15.9, administrators will now be able to specify files, file types, or directories that need specific types of approval. They can set approval as optional, required approval by one user, or required approval by multiple users.

Approval by multiple users is a new feature itself. Previously if you did have that requirement you would have to create an approval rule and now it is handled by the Code Owners file. Approval rules apply to entire branches, but Code Owners rules can be applied to specific parts of code.  

“So, the multiple approvals would have also been required for changes that do not need a high level of scrutiny leading to unnecessary reviews,” explained Christen Dybenko, senior product manager at GitLab, wrote in a blog post

Another update to do with approvals is license approval policies, which is intended to replace the deprecated License-Check feature, though GitLab has stated the two can be used simultaneously.

With license approval policies, users can choose who can edit them, multiple policy rules can be created and chained together, a two-step approval process can be enforced, and a single set of policies can be applied to multiple projects.

GitLab 15.9 also introduces a new method for detecting licenses. It can parse through and identify over 500 licenses. It can extract information from packages that contain multiple licenses as well. 

Among the new updates in 15.9 is the ability for administrators to grant people with the role of Guest to view private repository content. Previously guests wouldn’t have been able to actually view the code.

Another update is that notifications are now available in the GitLab for Slack app. Users can specify which Slack channels to notify based on merge request changes, push events, issue changes, and other GitLab events.

This means the current Slack notifications integration is being deprecated and will be removed to enable the company to focus entirely on GitLab for Slack. 

There is also a closed beta for GitLab Code Suggestions, which provides suggestions for snippets of code or line completions. 

Other new features to look for in GitLab 15.9 include timestamps on incident tags, OpenID Connect, and removal of character limitations in unexpanded masked variables.