node package manager


Release It!

Interactive release tool for Git repositories. Options: run build command first, release to distribution repository (or branch), create GitHub release, publish to npm.

Automatically bump version, commit, tag, push, done.

Here's an extended article about Using Release It!


Obviously, Release It has released itself. Cool, heh?! There's also a Grunt plugin.


npm install release-it -g


Release a new patch (increments from e.g. 1.0.4 to 1.0.5):


Release a patch, minor, major, or specific version:

release-it minor
release-it 0.8.3
release-it 2.0.0-rc.3

Create a pre-release using prerelease, prepatch, preminor, or premajor:

release-it premajor --prereleaseId="beta"
release-it premajor

The first example would increment from e.g. 1.0.6 to 2.0.0-beta.0, the second from 2.0.0-beta.0 to 2.0.0-beta.1.

See node-semver for more details.

You can also do a "dry run", which won't write/touch anything, but does output the commands it would execute, and show the interactivity:

release-it --dry-run

For automation and CI purposes, you can use the "non-interactive" mode:

release-it --non-interactive


Release It can do a lot out-of-the-box, but has plenty of options to configure it. The basics:

$ release-it --help
Release It! v2.7.0

Usage: release <increment> [options]

Use e.g. "release minor" directly as shorthand for "release --increment=minor".

  -c, --config           Path to local configuration options [default: ".release.json"]                          
  -d, --dry-run          Do not touch or write anything, but show the commands and interactivity                 
  -e, --debug            Output exceptions                                                                       
  -f, --force            Force tagging with Git                                                                  
  -h, --help             Print help                                                                              
  -i, --increment        Increment "major", "minor", "patch", or "pre*" version; or specify version [default: "patch"]
  -m, --message          Commit message [default: "Release %s"]
  -n, --non-interactive  No interaction (assume default answers to questions)                                    
      --prereleaseId     Identifier for pre-releases (e.g. "beta" in "1.0.0-beta.1")
  -p, --npm.publish      Auto-publish to npm (only relevant in --non-interactive mode)
      --npm.tag          Register published package with given tag (default: "latest")
  -v, --version          Print version number                                                                    
  -V, --verbose          Verbose output

All default settings below can be overridden by your own config file. Put a .release.json file in your project root, and Release It will pick it up. You can use --config if you want to use another path. Options can also be set on the command-line (these will have highest priority). Example:

release-it minor --src.tagName='v%s' --github.release

Here is the full list of settings:

  "non-interactive": false,
  "dry-run": false,
  "verbose": false,
  "force": false,
  "pkgFiles": ["package.json"],
  "increment": "patch",
  "prereleaseId": null,
  "buildCommand": false,
  "changelogCommand": "git log --pretty=format:\"* %s (%h)\" [REV_RANGE]",
  "requireCleanWorkingDir": false,
  "src": {
    "commitMessage": "Release %s",
    "tagName": "%s",
    "tagAnnotation": "Release %s",
    "pushRepo": null,
    "beforeStartCommand": false,
    "beforeStageCommand": false,
    "afterReleaseCommand": false,
    "githubAssets": false
  "dist": {
    "repo": false,
    "stageDir": ".stage",
    "baseDir": "dist",
    "files": ["**/*"],
    "pkgFiles": null,
    "commitMessage": "Release %s",
    "tagName": "%s",
    "tagAnnotation": "Release %s",
    "beforeStageCommand": false,
    "afterReleaseCommand": false,
    "githubAssets": false
  "npm": {
    "publish": false,
    "publishPath": ".",
    "tag": "latest",
    "private": false,
    "forcePublishSourceRepo": false
  "github": {
    "release": false,
    "releaseName": "Release %s",
    "preRelease": false,
    "draft": false,
    "tokenRef": "GITHUB_TOKEN"
  "prompt": {
    "src": {
      "status": false,
      "commit": true,
      "tag": true,
      "push": true,
      "release": true,
      "publish": false
    "dist": {
      "status": false,
      "commit": true,
      "tag": true,
      "push": true,
      "release": true,
      "publish": false


  • If present, your "private": true setting in package.json will be respected and you will not be bothered with the question to publish to npm.
  • If src.pushRepo has a falsey value, the default git push is used when pushing to the remote. Otherwise, it's the url or name of a remote as in git push <src.pushRepo>.
  • If dist.pkgFiles has a falsey value, it will take the value of pkgFiles.
  • In the background, some steps of the distribution repo process are actually executed before you are asked to commit anything (also in the source repo), so you know about build, clone, or copy issues as soon as possible.
  • The prompt booleans represent the default answers to the interactive questions.

Command Hooks

The command hooks are executed from the directory of the src or dist repository, respectively:

  • src.beforeStartCommand - before version bump
  • src.beforeStageCommand and dist.beforeStageCommand - before buildCommand
  • buildCommand - before files are staged for commit
  • src.afterReleaseCommand and dist.afterReleaseCommand - after release/publish steps

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

"buildCommand": "tar -czvf foo-${src.tagName}.tar.gz ",
"afterReleaseCommand": "echo Successfully released ${version} to ${dist.repo}."

Distribution Repository

Some projects use a special distribution repository. There might be multiple reasons to do.

  • Distribute more "clean" file structures (without unrelated test, manifest, documentation files etc.).
  • Distribute to target specific package managers. One example is the "shims" repositories in (the actual source files are elsewhere).
  • Distribute just documentation to a Github Pages branch. Also see Using GitHub Pages, the easy way.


  • To release to a separate "distribution repo", set dist.repo to a git endpoint (e.g. "").
  • Note that this can also be a branch, possibly of the same source repository, using # notation (e.g. "").
  • In case you want to update dist.repo, but still want to publish the source repository to npm, make sure to set "forcePublishSourceRepo": true.


SSH keys & git remotes

The tool assumes you've configured your SSH keys and remotes correctly. In case you need to configure things for GitHub, the following pages might be of help.

GitHub Release

To create GitHub releases, you'll need to set github.release to true,get a GitHub access token, and make this available as the environment variable defined with github.tokenRef. You can set it like this:

export GITHUB_TOKEN="f941e0..."

In non-interactive mode, the release is created only for the source repository.

What it does

To keep you in control, many steps need your confirmation before execution. This is what happens if you answer "Yes" to each question:

With the current repository:

  1. Bump version in pkgFiles.
  2. Is buildCommand provided? Clean dist.baseDir and execute the buildCommand.
  3. Commit changes with src.commitMessage (%s is replaced with the new version).
  4. Tag commit with src.tagName (and src.tagAnnotation).
  5. Push commit and tag.
  6. Create release on GitHub (with github.releaseName and output of changelogCommand).
  7. No dist.repo? Publish package to npm.

Additionally, if a distribution repository is configured:

  1. Clone dist.repo in dist.stageDir.
  2. Copy dist.files from dist.baseDir to dist.repo.
  3. Bump version in dist.pkgFiles, commit, tag, push dist.repo.
  4. Create release on GitHub (with github.releaseName and output of changelogCommand).
  5. Publish package to npm.


Major dependencies:

The following Grunt plugins have been a source of inspiration:

Why YA...

Why did I need to create yet another "release" tool/plugin? I think this tool stands out:

  • As a user-friendly, stand-alone CLI tool.
  • Making it simple to release the current project you're working at.
  • Working without any configuration, but also provides many options.
  • Releasing a separate distribution repository (in a single run).
  • Being as quiet or verbose as you want it to be.