What are Conventional Commits?

February 6, 2021

If you've looked through any open-source repositories recently, you've likely seen commits that look like this:

github commits

The commit messages are prefixed with a "tag" like fix or feat . This commit message specification is called Conventional Commits, and it's a powerful way to write commit messages that are human and machine-readable.

Conventional commits are a powerful specification that makes it possible to automate some of the more annoying parts of your versioning and publishing workflow. For example, you can use conventional commits to auto-version new releases of your library.

Because conventional commits are machine-readable, plenty of open source tools leverage them. For example, lerna has a --conventional-commits flag that checks your commit messages and recommends a semantic version for you.

I'd recommend this tool for library authors and maintainers who want to automate their versioning and publishing flow using tools like CI or Github Actions. A common workflow might look like this:

  1. Open a PR on a feature branch

  2. Get approvals on the PR

  3. Squash all commits and write a commit message that fits the Conventional Commits specification

  4. Merge PR to main branch

  5. Build kicks off, reads the commit message, and calls a versioning script

  6. New package version is set and build calls a publish script, which publishes a new release to the registry

  7. Build completes, and code is merged to the main branch

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© 2023 Mae Capozzi