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1.15.0 • Public • Published


Command line tool for generating a changelog from git tags and commit history

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npm install -g auto-changelog


Simply run auto-changelog in the root folder of a git repository. git log is run behind the scenes in order to parse the commit history.

Usage: auto-changelog [options]
  -o, --output [file]                 # output file, default: 
  -t, --template [template]           # specify template to use [compact, keepachangelog, json], default: compact 
  -r, --remote [remote]               # specify git remote to use for links, default: origin 
  -p, --package                       # use version from package.json as latest release 
  -v, --latest-version [version]      # use specified version as latest release 
  -u, --unreleased                    # include section for unreleased changes 
  -l, --commit-limit [count]          # number of commits to display per release, default: 3 
  -b, --backfill-limit [count]        # number of commits to backfill empty releases with, default: 3 
  -i, --issue-url [url]               # override url for issues, use {id} for issue id 
  -c, --config [file]                 # config file location, default: .auto-changelog 
      --issue-pattern [regex]         # override regex pattern for issues in commit messages 
      --breaking-pattern [regex]      # regex pattern for breaking change commits 
      --merge-pattern [regex]         # add custom regex pattern for merge commits 
      --ignore-commit-pattern [regex] # pattern to ignore when parsing commits 
      --tag-pattern [regex]           # override regex pattern for release tags 
      --tag-prefix [prefix]           # prefix used in version tags, default: v 
      --starting-commit [hash]        # starting commit to use for changelog generation 
      --sort-commits [property]       # sort commits by property [relevance, date, date-desc], default: relevance 
      --include-branch [branch]       # one or more branches to include commits from, comma separated 
      --release-summary               # display tagged commit message body as release summary 
      --handlebars-setup [file]       # handlebars setup file 
      --append-git-log [string]       # string to append to git log command 
      --stdout                        # output changelog to stdout 
  -V, --version                       # output the version number 
  -h, --help                          # output usage information 
# Write log to in current directory 
# Write log to 
auto-changelog --output
# Write log using keepachangelog template 
auto-changelog --template keepachangelog
# Write log using custom handlebars template in current directory 
auto-changelog --template my-custom-template.hbs
# Change rendered commit limit to 5 
auto-changelog --commit-limit 5
# Disable the commit limit, rendering all commits 
auto-changelog --commit-limit false

By default, changelogs will link to the appropriate pages for commits, issues and merge requests based on the origin remote of your repo. GitHub, GitLab, BitBucket and Azure DevOps are all supported. If you close issues using keywords but refer to issues outside of your repository, you can use --issue-url to link somewhere else:

# Link all issues to redmine 
auto-changelog --issue-url{id}

Use --tag-prefix [prefix] if you prefix your version tags with a certain string:

# When all versions are tagged like my-package/1.2.3 
auto-changelog --tag-prefix my-package/

By default, auto-changelog looks for valid semver tags to build a list of releases. If you are using another format (or want to include all tags), use --tag-pattern [regex]:

# When all versions are tagged like build-12345 
auto-changelog --tag-pattern build-\d+
# Include any tag as a release 
auto-changelog --tag-pattern .+

You can also set any option in package.json under the auto-changelog key, using camelCase options. Note that includeBranch should be an array here, not a comma separated list:

  "name": "my-awesome-package",
  "version": "1.0.0",
  "scripts": {
    // ...
  "auto-changelog": {
    "output": "",
    "template": "keepachangelog",
    "unreleased": true,
    "commitLimit": false,
    "includeBranch": [

You can also store config options in an .auto-changelog file in your project root:

  "output": "",
  "template": "keepachangelog",
  "unreleased": true,
  "commitLimit": false

Note that any options set in package.json will take precedence over any set in .auto-changelog.


auto-changelog is designed to be as flexible as possible, providing a clear changelog for any project. There are only two absolute requirements:

  • You should be using git 1.7.2 or later
  • All versions should be tagged using semver tag names – this happens by default when using npm version

There are some less strict requirements to improve your changelog:

What you might do if you’re clever

Install auto-changelog to dev dependencies:

npm install auto-changelog --save-dev
# or 
yarn add auto-changelog --dev

Add auto-changelog -p && git add to the version scripts in your package.json:

  "name": "my-awesome-package",
  "version": "1.0.0",
  "devDependencies": {
    "auto-changelog": "*"
  "scripts": {
    "version": "auto-changelog -p && git add"

Using -p or --package uses the version from package.json as the latest release, so that all commits between the previous release and now become part of that release. Essentially anything that would normally be parsed as Unreleased will now come under the version from package.json

Now every time you run npm version, the changelog will automatically update and be part of the version commit.

Breaking changes

If you use a common pattern in your commit messages for breaking changes, use --breaking-pattern to highlight those commits as breaking changes in your changelog. Breaking change commits will always be listed as part of a release, regardless of any --commit-limit set.

auto-changelog --breaking-pattern "BREAKING CHANGE:"

Custom templates

If you aren’t happy with the default templates or want to tweak something, you can point to a handlebars template in your local repo. Check out the existing templates to see what is possible.

Save changelog-template.hbs somewhere in your repo:

### Changelog
My custom changelog template. Don’t worry about indentation here; it is automatically removed from the output.
{{#each releases}}
  Every release has a {{title}} and a {{href}} you can use to link to the commit diff.
  It also has an {{isoDate}} and a {{niceDate}} you might want to use.
  {{#each merges}}
    - A merge has a {{message}}, an {{id}} and a {{href}} to the PR.
  {{#each fixes}}
    - Each fix has a {{commit}} with a {{commit.subject}}, an {{id}} and a {{href}} to the fixed issue.
  {{#each commits}}
    - Commits have a {{shorthash}}, a {{subject}} and a {{href}}, amongst other things.

Then just use --template to point to your template:

auto-changelog --template changelog-template.hbs

You can also point to an external template by passing in a URL:

auto-changelog --template

To see exactly what data is passed in to the templates, you can generate a JSON version of the changelog:

auto-changelog --template json --output changelog-data.json

commit-list helper

Use {{#commit-list}} to render a list of commits depending on certain patterns in the commit messages:

{{#each releases}}
  ### [{{title}}]({{href}})
  {{! List commits with `Breaking change: ` somewhere in the message }}
  {{#commit-list commits heading='### Breaking Changes' message='Breaking change: '}}
    - {{subject}} [`{{shorthash}}`]({{href}})
  {{! List commits that add new features, but not those already listed above }}
  {{#commit-list commits heading='### New Features' message='feat: ' exclude='Breaking change: '}}
    - {{subject}} [`{{shorthash}}`]({{href}})
Option Description
heading A heading for the list, only renders if at least one commit matches
message A regex pattern to match against the entire commit message
subject A regex pattern to match against the commit subject only
exclude A regex pattern to exclude from the list – useful for avoiding listing commits more than once

Custom issue patterns

By default, auto-changelog will parse GitHub-style issue fixes in your commit messages. If you use Jira or an alternative pattern in your commits to reference issues, you can pass in a custom regular expression to --issue-pattern along with --issue-url:

# Parse Jira-style issues in your commit messages, like PROJECT-418 
auto-changelog --issue-pattern [A-Z]+-\d+ --issue-url{id}

Or, in your package.json:

  "name": "my-awesome-package",
  "auto-changelog": {
    "issueUrl": "{id}",
    "issuePattern": "[A-Z]+-\d+"

If you use a certain pattern before or after the issue number, like fixes {id}, just use a capturing group:

# "This commit fixes ISSUE-123" will now parse ISSUE-123 as an issue fix 
auto-changelog --issue-pattern "[Ff]ixes ([A-Z]+-\d+)"

Replacing text

To insert links or other markup to PR titles and commit messages that appear in the log, use the replaceText option in your package.json:

  "name": "my-awesome-package",
  "auto-changelog": {
    "replaceText": {
      "(ABC-\\d+)": "[`$1`]($1)"

Here, any time a pattern like ABC-123 appears in your log, it will be replaced with a link to the relevant issue in Jira. Each pattern is applied using string.replace(new RegExp(key, 'g'), value).

Handlebars setup file

The --handlebars-setup options allows you to point to a file to add custom Handlebars helpers, for use in custom templates using --template. Paths are relative to the directory in which you run auto-changelog.

auto-changelog --handlebars-setup setup.js --template custom-template.hbs
// setup.js
module.exports = function (Handlebars) {
  Handlebars.registerHelper('custom', function (context, options) {
    return 'custom helpers!'
// custom-template.hbs
Now you can use {{custom}}

Migrating to 1.x

If you are upgrading from 0.x, the same options are still supported out of the box. Nothing will break, but your changelog may look slightly different:

  • The default template is now compact
    • If you still want to use the keepachangelog format, use --template keepachangelog
  • Templates now use - instead of * for lists
  • Up to 3 commits are now shown per release by default, use --commit-limit to change this
  • Unreleased changes are no longer listed by default, use --unreleased to include them
  • GitLab and BitBucket are now fully supported

If anything isn’t working correctly, open an issue.


What’s a changelog?


What does this do?

The command parses your git commit history and generates a changelog based on tagged versions, merged pull requests and closed issues. See a simple example in this very repo.

Why do I need it?

Because keeping a changelog can be tedious and difficult to get right. If you don’t have the patience for a hand-crafted, bespoke changelog then this makes keeping one rather easy. It also can be automated if you’re feeling extra lazy.


npm i auto-changelog

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