Benjamin Pickford


Automating release notes

April 1 2022

Automating release notes with github actions

The Problem

Release note generation can often be lacking, tedious or not exist at all.

The Solution

Automate it!

Here is a small Github Actions workflow to do exactly that!

name: Create release notes
on:
  push:
    branches:
      - main
jobs:
  build:
    runs-on: ubuntu-latest
    steps:
    - uses: actions/checkout@v2
      with:
        fetch-depth: '0'
    - id: tag
      name: Bump version and push tag
      uses: anothrNick/github-tag-action@1.36.0
      env:
        GITHUB_TOKEN: ${{ secrets.GITHUB_TOKEN }}
        WITH_V: true
        DEFAULT_BUMP: 'patch'
    - id: release_notes
      name: Create release notes
      run: gh release create ${{ steps.tag.outputs.new_tag }} --generate-notes
      env:
        GITHUB_TOKEN: ${{ secrets.GITHUB_TOKEN }}

What does it do

When pushed to the main branch

on:
  push:
    branches:
      - main

Checkout the repo

steps:
  - uses: actions/checkout@v2
    with:
      fetch-depth: "0"

Use the Github tag action to bump the version using git tags. This may not fit with every workflow so may need to adjust. This configuration will bump the tag using the patch strategy if none is explicitly defined in any of the commits since the large merge. For more details on how to configure the action, see the repo’s README

- id: tag
      name: Bump version and push tag
      uses: anothrNick/github-tag-action@1.36.0
      env:
        GITHUB_TOKEN: ${{ secrets.GITHUB_TOKEN }}
        WITH_V: true
        DEFAULT_BUMP: 'patch'

Use the Github CLI to automatically create a new release, and generate some release notes

- id: release_notes
      name: Create release notes
      run: gh release create ${{ steps.tag.outputs.new_tag }} --generate-notes
      env:
        GITHUB_TOKEN: ${{ secrets.GITHUB_TOKEN }}

What does it look like?

Here’s an example! It collates all merge commits and list them alongside authors, as well as provide a changelog and list of contributors. Release notes example

Further automation

You can then send this to slack or any other messaging service and communicate what you’re releasing without manual intervention.