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Contributing to semantic-release

Thanks for contributing to semantic-release!

As a contributor, here are the guidelines we would like you to follow:

We also recommend that you read How to Contribute to Open Source.

Code of conduct

Help us keep semantic-release open and inclusive. Please read and follow our Code of conduct.

How can I contribute?

Improve documentation

As a semantic-release user, you are the perfect candidate to help us improve our documentation: typo corrections, clarifications, more examples, new recipes, etc. Take a look at the documentation issues that need help.

Please follow the Documentation guidelines.

Give feedback on issues

Some issues are created without information requested in the Bug report guideline. Help make them easier to resolve by adding any relevant information.

Issues with the design label are meant to discuss the implementation of new features. Participating in the discussion is a good opportunity to get involved and influence the future direction of semantic-release.

Fix bugs and implement features

Confirmed bugs and ready-to-implement features are marked with the help wanted label. Post a comment on an issue to indicate you would like to work on it and to request help from the @semantic-release/maintainers and the community.

Using the issue tracker

The issue tracker is the channel for bug reports, features requests and submitting pull requests only. Please use the Support and Get help sections for support, troubleshooting and questions.

Before opening an issue or a Pull Request, please use the GitHub issue search to make sure the bug or feature request hasn't been already reported or fixed.

Bug report

A good bug report shouldn't leave others needing to chase you for more information. Please try to be as detailed as possible in your report and fill the information requested in the Bug report template.

Feature request

Feature requests are welcome, but take a moment to find out whether your idea fits with the scope and aims of the project. It's up to you to make a strong case to convince the project's developers of the merits of this feature. Please provide as much detail and context as possible and fill the information requested in the Feature request template.

New plugin request

Plugins are a great way to extend semantic-release capabilities, integrate with other systems and support new project type. Please provide as much detail and context as possible and fill the information requested in the New plugin request template.

Submitting a Pull Request

Good pull requests, whether patches, improvements, or new features, are a fantastic help. They should remain focused in scope and avoid containing unrelated commits.

Please ask first before embarking on any significant pull requests (e.g. implementing features, refactoring code), otherwise you risk spending a lot of time working on something that the project's developers might not want to merge into the project.

If you have never created a pull request before, welcome 🎉 😄. Here is a great tutorial on how to send one :)

Here is a summary of the steps to follow:

  1. Set up the workspace
  2. If you cloned a while ago, get the latest changes from upstream and update dependencies:
$ git checkout master
$ git pull upstream master
$ rm -rf node_modules
$ npm install
  1. Create a new topic branch (off the main project development branch) to contain your feature, change, or fix:
$ git checkout -b <topic-branch-name>
  1. Make your code changes, following the Coding rules
  2. Push your topic branch up to your fork:
$ git push origin <topic-branch-name>
  1. Open a Pull Request with a clear title and description.


  • For ambitious tasks, open a Pull Request as soon as possible with the [WIP] prefix in the title, in order to get feedback and help from the community.
  • Allow semantic-release maintainers to make changes to your Pull Request branch. This way, we can rebase it and make some minor changes if necessary. All changes we make will be done in new commit and we'll ask for your approval before merging them.

Coding rules

Source code

To ensure consistency and quality throughout the source code, all code modifications must have:

  • No linting errors
  • A test for every possible case introduced by your code change
  • 100% test coverage
  • Valid commit message(s)
  • Documentation for new features
  • Updated documentation for modified features


To ensure consistency and quality, all documentation modifications must:

  • Refer to brand in bold with proper capitalization, i.e. GitHub, semantic-release, npm
  • Prefer tables over lists when listing key values, i.e. List of options with their description
  • Use links when you are referring to:
    • a semantic-release concept described somewhere else in the documentation, i.e. How to contribute
    • a third-party product/brand/service, i.e. Integrate with GitHub
    • an external concept or feature, i.e. Create a GitHub release
    • a package or module, i.e. The @semantic-release/github module
  • Use the single backtick code quoting for:
    • commands inside sentences, i.e. the semantic-release command
    • programming language keywords, i.e. function, async, String
    • packages or modules, i.e. The @semantic-release/github module
  • Use the triple backtick code formatting for:
    • code examples
    • configuration examples
    • sequence of command lines

Commit message guidelines

Atomic commits

If possible, make atomic commits, which means:

  • a commit should contain exactly one self-contained functional change
  • a functional change should be contained in exactly one commit
  • a commit should not create an inconsistent state (such as test errors, linting errors, partial fix, feature with documentation etc...)

A complex feature can be broken down into multiple commits as long as each one maintains a consistent state and consists of a self-contained change.

Commit message format

Each commit message consists of a header, a body and a footer. The header has a special format that includes a type, a scope and a subject:

<type>(<scope>): <subject>

The header is mandatory and the scope of the header is optional.

The footer can contain a closing reference to an issue.


If the commit reverts a previous commit, it should begin with revert: , followed by the header of the reverted commit. In the body it should say: This reverts commit <hash>., where the hash is the SHA of the commit being reverted.


The type must be one of the following:

Type Description
build Changes that affect the build system or external dependencies (example scopes: gulp, broccoli, npm)
ci Changes to our CI configuration files and scripts (example scopes: Travis, Circle, BrowserStack, SauceLabs)
docs Documentation only changes
feat A new feature
fix A bug fix
perf A code change that improves performance
refactor A code change that neither fixes a bug nor adds a feature
style Changes that do not affect the meaning of the code (white-space, formatting, missing semi-colons, etc)
test Adding missing tests or correcting existing tests


The subject contains succinct description of the change:

  • use the imperative, present tense: "change" not "changed" nor "changes"
  • don't capitalize first letter
  • no dot (.) at the end


Just as in the subject, use the imperative, present tense: "change" not "changed" nor "changes". The body should include the motivation for the change and contrast this with previous behavior.


The footer should contain any information about Breaking Changes and is also the place to reference GitHub issues that this commit Closes.

Breaking Changes should start with the word BREAKING CHANGE: with a space or two newlines. The rest of the commit message is then used for this.


fix(pencil): stop graphite breaking when too much pressure applied
feat(pencil): add 'graphiteWidth' option

Fix #42
perf(pencil): remove graphiteWidth option

BREAKING CHANGE: The graphiteWidth option has been removed.

The default graphite width of 10mm is always used for performance reasons.

Working with the code

Set up the workspace

Fork the project, clone your fork, configure the remotes and install the dependencies:

# Clone your fork of the repo into the current directory
$ git clone<repo-name>
# Navigate to the newly cloned directory
$ cd <repo-name>
# Assign the original repo to a remote called "upstream"
$ git remote add upstream<repo-name>
# Install the dependencies
$ npm install


All the semantic-release repositories use XO for linting and Prettier for formatting. Prettier formatting will be automatically verified and fixed by XO.

Before pushing your code changes make sure there are no linting errors with npm run lint.


  • Most linting errors can be automatically fixed with npm run lint -- --fix.
  • Install the XO plugin for your editor to see linting errors directly in your editor and automatically fix them on save.


Running the integration test requires you to install Docker on your machine.

All the semantic-release repositories use AVA for writing and running tests.

Before pushing your code changes make sure all tests pass and the coverage is 100%:

$ npm run test

Tips: During development you can:

  • run only a subset of test files with ava <glob>, for example ava test/mytestfile.test.js
  • run in watch mode with ava -w to automatically run a test file when you modify it
  • run only the test you are working on by adding .only to the test definition


All the semantic-release repositories use Commitizen to help you create valid commit messages.

After staging your changes with git add, run npm run cm to start the interactive commit message CLI.