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Release Drafter Logo

Drafts your next release notes as pull requests are merged into master. Built with Probot.


Usage

You can use the Release Drafter GitHub Action in a GitHub Actions Workflow by configuring a YAML-based workflow file, e.g. .github/workflows/release-drafter.yml, with the following:

name: Release Drafter

on:
  push:
    # branches to consider in the event; optional, defaults to all
    branches:
      - master
  # pull_request event is required only for autolabeler
  pull_request:
    # Only following types are handled by the action, but one can default to all as well
    types: [opened, reopened, synchronize]

jobs:
  update_release_draft:
    runs-on: ubuntu-latest
    steps:
      # (Optional) GitHub Enterprise requires GHE_HOST variable set
      #- name: Set GHE_HOST
      #  run: |
      #    echo "GHE_HOST=${GITHUB_SERVER_URL##https:\/\/}" >> $GITHUB_ENV

      # Drafts your next Release notes as Pull Requests are merged into "master"
      - uses: release-drafter/release-drafter@v5
        # (Optional) specify config name to use, relative to .github/. Default: release-drafter.yml
        # with:
        #   config-name: my-config.yml
        #   disable-autolabeler: true
        env:
          GITHUB_TOKEN: ${{ secrets.GITHUB_TOKEN }}

If you're unable to use GitHub Actions, you can use the Release Drafter GitHub App. Please refer to the Release Drafter GitHub App documentation for more information.

Configuration

Once you’ve added Release Drafter to your repository, it must be enabled by adding a .github/release-drafter.yml configuration file to each repository.

Example

For example, take the following .github/release-drafter.yml file in a repository:

template: |
  ## What’s Changed

  $CHANGES

As pull requests are merged, a draft release is kept up-to-date listing the changes, ready to publish when you’re ready:

Screenshot of generated draft release

The following is a more complicated configuration, which categorises the changes into headings, and automatically suggests the next version number:

name-template: 'v$RESOLVED_VERSION 🌈'
tag-template: 'v$RESOLVED_VERSION'
categories:
  - title: '🚀 Features'
    labels:
      - 'feature'
      - 'enhancement'
  - title: '🐛 Bug Fixes'
    labels:
      - 'fix'
      - 'bugfix'
      - 'bug'
  - title: '🧰 Maintenance'
    label: 'chore'
change-template: '- $TITLE @$AUTHOR (#$NUMBER)'
change-title-escapes: '\<*_&' # You can add # and @ to disable mentions, and add ` to disable code blocks.
version-resolver:
  major:
    labels:
      - 'major'
  minor:
    labels:
      - 'minor'
  patch:
    labels:
      - 'patch'
  default: patch
template: |
  ## Changes

  $CHANGES

Configuration Options

You can configure Release Drafter using the following key in your .github/release-drafter.yml file:

Key Required Description
template Required The template for the body of the draft release. Use template variables to insert values.
category-template Optional The template to use for each category. Use category template variables to insert values. Default: "## $TITLE".
name-template Optional The template for the name of the draft release. For example: "v$NEXT_PATCH_VERSION".
tag-template Optional The template for the tag of the draft release. For example: "v$NEXT_PATCH_VERSION".
version-template Optional The template to use when calculating the next version number for the release. Useful for projects that don't use semantic versioning. Default: "$MAJOR.$MINOR.$PATCH"
change-template Optional The template to use for each merged pull request. Use change template variables to insert values. Default: "* $TITLE (#$NUMBER) @$AUTHOR".
change-title-escapes Optional Characters to escape in $TITLE when inserting into change-template so that they are not interpreted as Markdown format characters. Default: ""
no-changes-template Optional The template to use for when there’s no changes. Default: "* No changes".
references Optional The references to listen for configuration updates to .github/release-drafter.yml. Refer to References to learn more about this
categories Optional Categorize pull requests using labels. Refer to Categorize Pull Requests to learn more about this option.
exclude-labels Optional Exclude pull requests using labels. Refer to Exclude Pull Requests to learn more about this option.
include-labels Optional Include only the specified pull requests using labels. Refer to Include Pull Requests to learn more about this option.
replacers Optional Search and replace content in the generated changelog body. Refer to Replacers to learn more about this option.
sort-by Optional Sort changelog by merged_at or title. Can be one of: merged_at, title. Default: merged_at.
sort-direction Optional Sort changelog in ascending or descending order. Can be one of: ascending, descending. Default: descending.
prerelease Optional Mark the draft release as pre-release. Default false.
version-resolver Optional Adjust the $RESOLVED_VERSION variable using labels. Refer to Version Resolver to learn more about this
filter-by-commitish Optional Filter previous releases to consider only the target branch of the release. Default: false.
commitish Optional Specify the target branch of the release. Default: the default branch of the repo.

Release Drafter also supports Probot Config, if you want to store your configuration files in a central repository. This allows you to share configurations between projects, and create a organization-wide configuration file by creating a repository named .github with the file .github/release-drafter.yml.

Template Variables

You can use any of the following variables in your template:

Variable Description
$CHANGES The markdown list of pull requests that have been merged.
$CONTRIBUTORS A comma separated list of contributors to this release (pull request authors, commit authors, and commit committers).
$PREVIOUS_TAG The previous releases’s tag.

Category Template Variables

You can use any of the following variables in category-template:

Variable Description
$TITLE The category title, e.g. Features.

Next Version Variables

You can use any of the following variables in your template, name-template and tag-template:

Variable Description
$NEXT_PATCH_VERSION The next patch version number. For example, if the last tag or release was v1.2.3, the value would be v1.2.4. This is the most commonly used value.
$NEXT_MINOR_VERSION The next minor version number. For example, if the last tag or release was v1.2.3, the value would be v1.3.0.
$NEXT_MAJOR_VERSION The next major version number. For example, if the last tag or release was v1.2.3, the value would be v2.0.0.
$RESOLVED_VERSION The next resolved version number, based on GitHub labels. Refer to Version Resolver to learn more about this.

Version Template Variables

You can use any of the following variables in version-template to format the $NEXT_{PATCH,MINOR,MAJOR}_VERSION variables:

Variable Description
$PATCH The patch version number.
$MINOR The minor version number.
$MAJOR The major version number.

Version Resolver

With the version-resolver option version number incrementing can be resolved automatically based on labels of individual pull requests. Append the following to your .github/release-drafter.yml file:

version-resolver:
  major:
    labels:
      - 'major'
  minor:
    labels:
      - 'minor'
  patch:
    labels:
      - 'patch'
  default: patch

The above config controls the output of the $RESOLVED_VERSION variable.

If a pull requests is found with the label major/minor/patch, the corresponding version key will be incremented from a semantic version. The maximum out of major, minor and patch found in any of the pull requests will be used to increment the version number. If no pull requests are found with the assigned labels, the default will be assigned.

Change Template Variables

You can use any of the following variables in change-template:

Variable Description
$NUMBER The number of the pull request, e.g. 42.
$TITLE The title of the pull request, e.g. Add alien technology. Any characters excluding @ and # matching change-title-escapes will be prepended with a backslash so that they will appear verbatim instead of being interpreted as markdown format characters. @s and #s if present in change-title-escapes will be appended with an HTML comment so that they don't become mentions.
$AUTHOR The pull request author’s username, e.g. gracehopper.
$BODY The body of the pull request e.g. Fixed spelling mistake.
$URL The URL of the pull request e.g. https://github.com/octocat/repo/pull/42.

References

Note: This is only revelant for GitHub app users as references is ignored when running as GitHub action due to GitHub workflows more powerful on conditions

References takes an list and accepts strings and regex. If none are specified, we default to the repository’s default branch usually master.

references:
  - master
  - v.+

Currently matching against any ref/heads/ and ref/tags/ references behind the scene

Categorize Pull Requests

With the categories option you can categorize pull requests in release notes using labels. For example, append the following to your .github/release-drafter.yml file:

categories:
  - title: '🚀 Features'
    label: 'feature'
  - title: '🐛 Bug Fixes'
    labels:
      - 'fix'
      - 'bugfix'
      - 'bug'

Pull requests with the label "feature" or "fix" will now be grouped together:

Screenshot of generated draft release with categories

Adding such labels to your PRs can be automated by using the embedded Autolabeler functionality (see below), PR Labeler or Probot Auto Labeler.

Exclude Pull Requests

With the exclude-labels option you can exclude pull requests from the release notes using labels. For example, append the following to your .github/release-drafter.yml file:

exclude-labels:
  - 'skip-changelog'

Pull requests with the label "skip-changelog" will now be excluded from the release draft.

Include Pull Requests

With the include-labels option you can specify pull requests from the release notes using labels. Only pull requests that have the configured labels will be included in the pull request. For example, append the following to your .github/release-drafter.yml file:

include-labels:
  - 'app-foo'

Pull requests with the label "app-foo" will be the only pull requests included in the release draft.

Replacers

You can search and replace content in the generated changelog body, using regular expressions, with the replacers option. Each replacer is applied in order.

replacers:
  - search: '/CVE-(\d{4})-(\d+)/g'
    replace: 'https://cve.mitre.org/cgi-bin/cvename.cgi?name=CVE-$1-$2'
  - search: 'myname'
    replace: 'My Name'

Autolabeler

You can add automatically a label into a pull request, with the autolabeler option. Available matchers are files (glob), branch (regex), title (regex) and body (regex). Matchers are evaluated independently; the label will be set if at least one of the matchers meets the criteria.

autolabeler:
  - label: 'chore'
    files:
      - '*.md'
    branch:
      - '/docs{0,1}\/.+/'
  - label: 'bug'
    branch:
      - '/fix\/.+/'
    title:
      - '/fix/i'
  - label: 'enhancement'
    branch:
      - '/feature\/.+/'
    body:
      - '/JIRA-[0-9]{1,4}/'

Projects that don't use Semantic Versioning

If your project doesn't follow Semantic Versioning you can still use Release Drafter, but you may want to set the version-template option to customize how the $NEXT_{PATCH,MINOR,MAJOR}_VERSION environment variables are generated.

For example, if your project doesn't use patch version numbers, you can set version-template to $MAJOR.$MINOR. If the current release is version 1.0, then $NEXT_MINOR_VERSION will be 1.1.

Action Inputs

The Release Drafter GitHub Action accepts a number of optional inputs directly in your workflow configuration. These will typically override default behavior specified in your release-drafter.yml config.

Input Description
config-name If your workflow requires multiple release-drafter configs it be helpful to override the config-name. The config should still be located inside .github as that's where we are looking for config files.
name The name that will be used in the GitHub release that's created or updated. This will override any name-template specified in your release-drafter.yml if defined.
tag The tag name to be associated with the GitHub release that's created or updated. This will override any tag-template specified in your release-drafter.yml if defined.
version The version to be associated with the GitHub release that's created or updated. This will override any version calculated by the release-drafter.
publish A boolean indicating whether the release being created or updated should be immediately published. This may be useful if the output of a previous workflow step determines that a new version of your project has been (or will be) released, as with salsify/action-detect-and-tag-new-version.
prerelease A boolean indicating whether the relase being created or updated is a prerelease.
commitish A string specifying the target branch for the release being created.

Action Outputs

The Release Drafter GitHub Action sets a couple of outputs which can be used as inputs to other Actions in the workflow (example).

Output Description
id The ID of the release that was created or updated.
name The name of this release.
tag_name The name of the tag associated with this release.
body The body of the drafted release, useful if it needs to be included in files.
html_url The URL users can navigate to in order to view the release. i.e. https://github.com/octocat/Hello-World/releases/v1.0.0.
upload_url The URL for uploading assets to the release, which could be used by GitHub Actions for additional uses, for example the @actions/upload-release-asset GitHub Action.

Developing

If you have Node v10+ installed locally, you can run the tests, and a local app, using the following commands:

# Install dependencies
yarn

# Run the tests
npm test

# Run the app locally
npm run dev

Once you've started the app, visit localhost:3000 and you'll get step-by-step instructions for installing it in your GitHub account so you can start pushing commits and testing it locally.

If you don’t have Node installed, you can use Docker Compose:

# Run the tests
docker-compose run --rm app npm test

Contributing

Third-party contributions are welcome! 🙏🏼 See CONTRIBUTING.md for step-by-step instructions.

If you need help or have a question, let me know via a GitHub issue.

Deployment

If you want to deploy your own copy of Release Drafter, follow the Probot Deployment Guide.

Releasing

Run the following command:

git checkout master && git pull && npm version [major | minor | patch]

The command does the following:

  • Ensures you’re on master and don’t have local, un-commited changes
  • Bumps the version number in package.json based on major, minor or patch
  • Runs the postversion npm script in package.json, which:
    • Pushes the tag to GitHub
    • Publishes the npm release
    • Deploys to Now
    • Opens the GitHub releases page so you can publish the release notes