What are Conventional Commits?

February 06, 2021

component librariesdesign systemslerna

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

Get the free design systems newsletter

Whether you're new to design systems or a seasoned pro, this newsletter is for you.

Join over 70 developers learning about design systems now:

All content © Mae Capozzi