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

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Programming language: JavaScript
License: MIT
Tags: Automation     CLI     Tool     NPM     Release     Git    
Latest version: v14.0.3

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Release It! ๐Ÿš€

๐Ÿš€ 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 use hooks to execute any command you need to test, build, and/or publish your project.

Action Status npm version codecov

  • 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.

Table of Contents (click to expand)

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Although release-it is a generic release tool, installation requires npm. A package.json file is not required. The recommended way to install release-it also adds basic configuration. Answer one or two questions and it's ready:

npm init release-it

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

npm install --save-dev 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 (any release-it arguments behind the --):

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

Global usage

Use release-it in any (non-npm) project, take it for a test drive, or install it globally:

# Run release-it from anywhere (without installation)
npx release-it

# Install globally and run from anywhere
npm install --global release-it


Release a new version:


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

Dry Run

To show the interactivity and the commands it would execute:

release-it --dry-run

Note: read-only commands are still executed ($ ...), while potentially writing/mutating commands are not (! ...):

$ git rev-parse --git-dir
! git add package.json
! git commit --message="Release 0.8.3"


Out of the box, release-it has sane defaults, and [plenty of options](./config/release-it.json) to configure it. Put (only) the options to override in a configuration file. This is where release-it looks for configuration:

  • .release-it.json
  • .release-it.js (export the configuration object: module.exports = {})
  • .release-it.yaml (or .yml)
  • .release-it.toml
  • package.json (in the release-it property)

Use --config to use another path for the configuration file. An example .release-it.json:

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

Or in a release-it property in package.json:

  "name": "my-package",
  "devDependencies": {
    "release-it": "*"
  "release-it": {
    "github": {
      "release": true

Or use YAML in .release-it.yml:

  requireCleanWorkingDir: false

Or TOML in .release-it.toml:

"before:init" = "npm test"

Any option can also be set on the command-line, and will have highest priority. Example:

release-it minor --git.requireBranch=master --github.release

Boolean arguments can be negated by using the no- prefix:

release-it --no-npm.publish

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):


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

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

GitHub Releases

The "Releases" tab on GitHub projects links to a page to store the changelog cq. release notes. To add GitHub releases in your release-it flow:

  • Configure github.release: true
  • Obtain a personal access token (release-it only needs "repo" access; no "admin" or other scopes).
  • Make sure the token is [available as an environment variable](./docs/environment-variables.md).

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

GitLab Releases

GitLab releases work just like GitHub 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).

โ†’ 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

โ†’ 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.

โ†’ 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.

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


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.


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-lerna-changelog Integrates lerna-changelog into the release-it pipeline
release-it-yarn-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).

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

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

Distribution repository

Some projects use a distribution repository. Generated files (such as compiled assets or documentation) can be distributed to a separate repository. Or to a separate branch, such as a gh-pages. Some examples include shim repositories and a separate packaged Angular.js repository for distribution on npm and Bower.

The dist.repo option was removed in v10, but similar setups can still be achieved. Please see the [distribution repository](./docs/recipes/distribution-repo.md) recipe for example configurations.


Use --disable-metrics to opt-out of sending some anonymous statistical data to Google Analytics. For details, refer to [lib/metrics.js](./lib/metrics.js). Please consider to not opt-out: more data means more support for future development.

Troubleshooting & debugging

  • With release-it --verbose (or -V), release-it prints every custom script/hook and its output.
  • With release-it -VV, release-it also prints every internal command and its output.
  • Prepend 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