Automate releases for Git repositories and/or npm packages. Changelog generation, GitHub/GitLab releases, etc.

Programming language: JavaScript
License: MIT License
Tags: Automation     CLI     Tool     NPM     Release     Git    
Latest version: v14.2.2

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Release It! πŸš€

πŸš€ Generic CLI tool to automate versioning and package publishing related tasks:

Use release-it for version management and publish to anywhere with its versatile configuration, a powerful plugin system, and hooks to execute any command you need to test, build, and/or publish your project.

Action Status npm version


The latest major version is v15, supporting Node.js 14 and up (as Node.js v12 is EOL). Use release-it v14 for environments running Node.js v10 and v12. Also see [CHANGELOG.md](./CHANGELOG.md).


  • See [CHANGELOG.md](./CHANGELOG.md) for major/breaking updates, and releases for a detailed version history.
  • To contribute, please read [CONTRIBUTING.md](./.github/CONTRIBUTING.md) first.
  • Please open an issue if anything is missing or unclear in this documentation.


Although release-it is a generic release tool, most projects use it for projects with npm packages. The recommended way to install release-it uses npm and adds some minimal configuration to get started:

npm init release-it

Alternatively, install it manually, and add the release script to package.json:

npm install -D release-it
  "name": "my-package",
  "version": "1.0.0",
  "scripts": {
    "release": "release-it"
  "devDependencies": {
    "release-it": "*"

Now you can run npm run release from the command line (put release-it arguments behind the --):

npm run release
npm run release -- minor --ci

Global Installation

Using npx or npm

Use npx to run release-it directly from anywhere:

npx release-it

Or use npm to install and run release-it globally:

npm install -g release-it

Using Homebrew

brew install release-it


Release a new version:


You will be prompted to select the new version, and more prompts will follow based on your configuration.

Run release-it from the root of the project to prevent potential issues.

Dry Runs

Use --dry-run to show the interactivity and the commands it would execute.

β†’ See [Dry Runs](./docs/dry-runs.md) for more details.

To print the next version without releasing anything, add the --release-version flag.

To print the changelog without releasing anything, add the --changelog flag.


Out of the box, release-it has sane defaults, and [plenty of options](./config/release-it.json) to configure it. Most projects use a .release-it.json in the project root, or a release-it property in package.json.

β†’ See [Configuration](./docs/configuration.md) for more details.

Here's a quick example .release-it.json:

  "git": {
    "commitMessage": "chore: release v${version}"
  "github": {
    "release": true

Interactive vs. CI mode

By default, release-it is interactive and allows you to confirm each task before execution:

By using the --ci option, the process is fully automated without prompts. The configured tasks will be executed as demonstrated in the first animation above. On a Continuous Integration (CI) environment, this non-interactive mode is activated automatically.

Use --only-version to use a prompt only to determine the version, and automate the rest.

Latest version

How does release-it determine the latest version?

  1. For projects with a package.json, its version will be used (see [npm](./docs/npm.md) to skip this).
  2. Otherwise, release-it uses the latest Git tag to determine which version should be released.
  3. As a last resort, 0.0.0 will be used as the latest version.

Alternatively, a plugin can be used to override this (e.g. to manage a VERSION or composer.json file):

Add the --release-version flag to print the next version without releasing anything.


Git projects are supported well by release-it, automating the tasks to stage, commit, tag and push releases to any Git remote.

β†’ See [Git](./docs/git.md) for more details.

GitHub Releases

GitHub projects can have releases attached to Git tags, containing release notes and assets. There are two ways to add GitHub releases in your release-it flow:

  1. Automated (requires a GITHUB_TOKEN)
  2. Manual (using the GitHub web interface with pre-populated fields)

β†’ See [GitHub Releases](./docs/github-releases.md) for more details.

GitLab Releases

GitLab projects can have releases attached to Git tags, containing release notes and assets. To automate GitLab releases:

  • Configure gitlab.release: true
  • Obtain a personal access token (release-it only needs the "api" scope).
  • Make sure the token is [available as an environment variable](./docs/environment-variables.md).

β†’ See [GitLab Releases](./docs/gitlab-releases.md) for more details.


By default, release-it generates a changelog, to show and help select a version for the new release. Additionally, this changelog serves as the release notes for the GitHub or GitLab release.

The [default command](./config/release-it.json) is based on git log .... This setting (git.changelog) can be overridden. To further customize the release notes for the GitHub or GitLab release, there's github.releaseNotes or gitlab.releaseNotes. Make sure any of these commands output the changelog to stdout. Plugins are available for:

  • GitHub and GitLab Releases
  • auto-changelog
  • Conventional Changelog
  • Keep A Changelog

β†’ See [Changelog](./docs/changelog.md) for more details.

Publish to npm

With a package.json in the current directory, release-it will let npm bump the version in package.json (and package-lock.json if present), and publish to the npm registry.

β†’ See [Publish to npm](./docs/npm.md) for more details.

Manage pre-releases

With release-it, it's easy to create pre-releases: a version of your software that you want to make available, while it's not in the stable semver range yet. Often "alpha", "beta", and "rc" (release candidate) are used as identifier for pre-releases. An example pre-release version is 2.0.0-beta.0.

β†’ See [Manage pre-releases](./docs/pre-releases.md) for more details.

Update or re-run existing releases

Use --no-increment to not increment the last version, but update the last existing tag/version.

This may be helpful in cases where the version was already incremented. Here's a few example scenarios:

  • To update or publish a (draft) GitHub Release for an existing Git tag.
  • Publishing to npm succeeded, but pushing the Git tag to the remote failed. Then use release-it --no-increment --no-npm to skip the npm publish and try pushing the same Git tag again.


Use script hooks to run shell commands at any moment during the release process (such as before:init or after:release).

The format is [prefix]:[hook] or [prefix]:[plugin]:[hook]:

part value
prefix before or after
plugin version, git, npm, github, gitlab
hook init, bump, release

Use the optional :plugin part in the middle to hook into a life cycle method exactly before or after any plugin.

The core plugins include version, git, npm, github, gitlab.

Note that hooks like after:git:release will not run when either the git push failed, or when it is configured not to be executed (e.g. git.push: false). See [execution order](./docs/plugins.md#execution-order) for more details on execution order of plugin lifecycle methods.

All commands can use configuration variables (like template strings). An array of commands can also be provided, they will run one after another. Some example release-it configuration:

  "hooks": {
    "before:init": ["npm run lint", "npm test"],
    "after:my-plugin:bump": "./bin/my-script.sh",
    "after:bump": "npm run build",
    "after:git:release": "echo After git push, before github release",
    "after:release": "echo Successfully released ${name} v${version} to ${repo.repository}."

The variables can be found in the [default configuration](./config/release-it.json). Additionally, the following variables are exposed:

repo.remote, repo.protocol, repo.host, repo.owner, repo.repository, repo.project

All variables are available in all hooks. The only exception is that the additional variables listed above are not yet available in the init hook.

Use --verbose to log the output of the commands.

For the sake of verbosity, the full list of hooks is actually: init, beforeBump, bump, beforeRelease, release or afterRelease. However, hooks like before:beforeRelease look weird and are usually not useful in practice.

Note that arguments need to be quoted properly when used from the command line:

release-it --'hooks.after:release="echo Successfully released ${name} v${version} to ${repo.repository}."'

Using Inquirer.js inside custom hook scripts might cause issues (since release-it also uses this itself).


Since v11, release-it can be extended in many, many ways. Here are some plugins:

Plugin Description
@release-it/bumper Read & write the version from/to any file
@release-it/conventional-changelog Provides recommended bump, conventional-changelog, and updates CHANGELOG.md
@release-it/keep-a-changelog Maintain CHANGELOG.md using the Keep a Changelog standards
@release-it-plugins/lerna-changelog Integrates lerna-changelog into the release-it pipeline
@release-it-plugins/workspaces Releases each of your projects configured workspaces
release-it-calver-plugin Enables Calendar Versioning (calver) with release-it
@grupoboticario/news-fragments An easy way to generate your changelog file
@j-ulrich/release-it-regex-bumper Regular expression based version read/write plugin for release-it

Internally, release-it uses its own plugin architecture (for Git, GitHub, GitLab, npm).

β†’ See all release-it plugins on npm.

β†’ See [plugins](./docs/plugins.md) for documentation to write plugins.

Distribution repository

Deprecated. Please see [distribution repository](./docs/recipes/distribution-repo.md) for more details.


In release-it v15, anonymous metrics have been removed from the codebase and no data is sent or stored anywhere.

Troubleshooting & debugging

  • With release-it --verbose (or -V), release-it prints the output of every user-defined hook.
  • With release-it -VV, release-it also prints the output of every internal command.
  • Use NODE_DEBUG=release-it:* release-it [...] to print configuration and more error details.

Use verbose: 2 in a configuration file to have the equivalent of -VV on the command line.

Use release-it programmatically

While mostly used as a CLI tool, release-it can be used as a dependency to integrate in your own scripts. See [use release-it programmatically](./docs/recipes/programmatic.md) for example code.

Example projects using release-it



*Note that all licence references and agreements mentioned in the Release It! πŸš€ README section above are relevant to that project's source code only.