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Automate the tedious tasks of software releases. Happily release and publish your Git repositories, npm packages, GitHub & GitLab releases, changelogs, and much more!
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Release It! 🚀

CLI release tool for Git repos and npm packages.

Release It! automates the tedious tasks of software releases:

Build Status npm version Greenkeeper badge codecov


Table of Contents (click to expand)



As a globally available CLI command:

npm install --global release-it


As a devDependency in your project:

npm install --save-dev release-it

Add this as a script to package.json:

  "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.


Release a new version:


You will be prompted to select the new version. To skip the first prompt, provide a specific increment or version:

release-it minor
release-it 0.8.3

For a "dry run", to show the interactivity and the commands it would execute:

release-it --dry-run

Note: read-only commands are still executed ($ ...), while the rest is 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 to configure it. Put the options to override in .release-it.json in the project root. Example:

  "git": {
    "tagName": "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


  • Only the settings to override need to be in .release-it.json (or package.json). Everything else will fall back to the default configuration.
  • You can use --config if you want to use another path for .release-it.json.

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

release-it minor --git.tagName='v${version}' --github.release

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

release-it --no-npm.publish

Interactive vs. non-interactive mode

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

By using the -n option (i.e. non-interactive), 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, the non-interactive mode is activated automatically.

Latest version

By default, release-it uses the latest Git tag to determine which version should be released. For projects that don't have a Git tag (yet), or if the Git tag isn't a valid semver, it falls back to the version found in package.json. As a last resort, 0.0.0 will be used as the latest version.

To explicitly use the version from package.json as latest version, set "use": "pkg.version" (or --use=pkg.version). In case the repo itself should not be tagged, make sure to set git.tag to false. This is also useful for monorepos.


SSH keys & Git remotes

SSH keys and Git remotes are assumed to be configured correctly. If a manual git push from the command line works, release-it should be able to do the same.

The following help pages might be useful: SSH and Managing Remotes (GitHub), SSH keys (Bitbucket), SSH keys (GitLab).

Remote repository

By default, release-it uses origin as the remote name to push to. Use git.pushRepo to override this with a different remote name (or a different git url).

Extra arguments

In case extra arguments should be provided to Git, these options are available:

  • git.commitArgs
  • git.tagArgs
  • git.pushArgs

For example, use "git.commitArgs": "-S" to sign commits (also see #35).

Skip Git steps

To skip the Git steps (commit, tag, push) entirely (e.g. to only npm publish), use the shorthand:

release-it --no-git

Untracked files

By default, untracked files are not added to the release commit. Use git.addUntrackedFiles: true to override this behavior.

GitHub Releases

The "Releases" tab on GitHub projects links to a page to store the changelog. 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. Example:
export GITHUB_TOKEN="f941e0..."

Do not put the actual token in the release-it configuration. It will be read from the GITHUB_TOKEN environment variable. You can change this variable name by setting the github.tokenRef option to something else.

Obviously, release-it uses this feature extensively: release-it's releases page.

Release notes

By default, the output of scripts.changelog is used for the GitHub release notes. This is the printed Changelog: ... when release-it boots. Override this with the github.releaseNotes option. This script will run just before the actual GitHub release itself. Make sure it outputs to stdout. An example:

  "github": {
    "release": true,
    "releaseNotes": " ${latestVersion} ${version}"

Release assets

To upload binary release assets with a GitHub release (such as compiled executables, minified scripts, documentation), provide one or more glob patterns for the github.assets option. After the release, the assets are available to download from the GitHub release page. Example:

  "github": {
    "release": true,
    "assets": ["dist/*.zip"]

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. Example:
export GITLAB_TOKEN="f941e0..."

The output of scripts.changelog (or gitlab.releaseNotes if set) will be attached to the latest tag.

GitLab 11.7 introduces Releases to create release entries (much like GitHub), including release assets. For GitLab 11.6 and lower, release-it will automatically fall back to attach releases notes to a tag. In this case, assets will not get included.

Uploading assets work just like GitHub Release assets, e.g. --gitlab.assets=*.dmg.


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 is based on git log .... This setting (scripts.changelog) can be overridden, or specifically with github.releaseNotes or gitlab.releaseNotes for the release notes only. Make sure the command outputs the changelog to stdout.

Alternatively, a (Handlebars) template can be used to generate the changelog. See auto-changelog below for more details.

Some projects keep their changelog in e.g. or To auto-update this file with the release, the recommended configuration is to use a command that does this in scripts.beforeStage. See below for examples and workflows.


A tool like auto-changelog is a great companion to release-it:

  "scripts": {
    "changelog": "npx auto-changelog --stdout --commit-limit false -u --template ./changelog.hbs",
    "beforeStage": "npx auto-changelog"

With this scripts.changelog, the changelog preview is based on the changelog.hbs template. This would be used for GitHub or GitLab releases as well.

Additionally, scripts.beforeStage will update the with each release to get included with the release commit. Obviously this can be omitted if the project does not keep a or similar.

See the auto-changelog recipe for an example setup and template.

Conventional Changelog

Recommended Bump

If your project follows conventions, such as the Angular commit guidelines, the special conventional:angular increment shorthand can be used to get the recommended bump based on the commit messages:

  "increment": "conventional:angular"

Please find the list of available conventions (angular, ember, etc).

Generate a custom changelog

Use conventional-changelog-cli to generate the changelog. In the next example, scripts.beforeStage is also used, to update the file (and include this change in the release commit).

  "increment": "conventional:angular",
  "scripts": {
    "changelog": "npx conventional-changelog -p angular -u | tail -n +3",
    "beforeStage": "npx conventional-changelog -p angular -i -s"

Publish to npm

By default, npm.publish is true and publishing is delegated to npm publish.

Public scoped packages

A scoped package (e.g. @user/package) is either public or private. To publish scoped packages, make sure this is in package.json:

  "publishConfig": {
    "access": "public"

By default, npm publish will publish a scoped package as private (requires paid account).

Two-factor authentication

In case two-factor authentication (2FA) is enabled for the package, release-it will ask for the one-time password (OTP).

The OTP can be provided from the command line (--npm.otp=123456). However, providing the OTP without a prompt basically defeats the purpose of 2FA (also, the OTP expires after a short period).


From a monorepo package subdirectory, release-it detects package.json is not in the same directory as the Git root. Then it will take the latest version from this package.json rather than the latest Git tag.

To not tag the monorepo itself, set git.tag to false. For example, from ./packages/some-pkg:

release-it --git.commitMessage='Release ${name} v${version}' --no-git.tag

If needed, the Git steps can be skipped entirely.


  • The "private": true setting in package.json will be respected, and release-it will skip this step.
  • Getting an ENEEDAUTH error while a manual npm publish works? Please see #95.

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. The awesome-pkg is at version 1.3.0, and work is done for a new major update. To publish the latest beta of the new major version:

release-it major --preRelease=beta

This will tag and release version 2.0.0-beta.0. Notes:

  • A normal installation of awesome-pkg will still be at version 1.3.0.
  • The npm tag will be "beta", install it using npm install awesome-pkg@beta
  • A GitHub release will be marked as a "Pre-release".

The above command is actually a shortcut for:

release-it premajor --preReleaseId=beta --npm.tag=beta --github.preRelease

Consecutive beta releases (2.0.0-beta.1 and so on):

release-it --preRelease

And when ready to release the next phase (e.g. release candidate, in this case 2.0.0-rc.0):

release-it --preRelease=rc

And eventually, for 2.0.0:

release-it major


  • Pre-releases can work together with recommended bumps.
  • You can still override individual options, e.g. release-it --preRelease=rc --npm.tag=next.
  • See for more details about semantic versioning.


These script hooks can be used to execute commands (from the root directory of the repository):

  • scripts.beforeStart
  • scripts.beforeBump
  • scripts.afterBump
  • scripts.beforeStage
  • scripts.afterRelease

All commands can use configuration variables (like template strings). Some examples:

  "scripts": {
    "beforeStart": "npm test",
    "afterBump": "tar -czvf foo-${version}.tar.gz",
    "afterRelease": "echo Successfully released ${name} v${version} to ${repo.repository}."

The variables can be found in the default configuration. Additionally, the following variables are exposed:

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

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 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. Please consider to not opt-out: more data means more more support for future development.

Troubleshooting & debugging

  • With release-it --verbose, release-it prints every command and its output.
  • Prepend DEBUG=release=it:* release-it [...] to print configuration and more error details.
  • Use DEBUG=* release-it [...] to include debug output for dependencies, such as @octokit/rest.

Use release-it programmatically

While mostly used as a CLI tool, release-it can be used as a dependency to ingrate in your own scripts. See use release-it programmatically for example code.

Example projects using release-it



Major dependencies:

The following Grunt plugins have been a source of inspiration:

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