Using Git Commit Messages As Your Changelog

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I love git. It’s a powerful tool that I keep discovering new commands for. Pair git with GitHub and you’ve got a near perfect way to manage code.

Up until recently, when I did a commit I would always use the -m argument and just send a short, vague commit message. Then after reading up on some git “best practice” stuff, I decided to start omit the -m tag and start writing “proper” git commit messages. Since I’ve done this, unless the commit can be explained in one line, I’ve been using a full commit message. The first line explains the general overview of the commit. Then there are paragraphs to explain the major changes. Then I usually add a list of other smaller changes.

Since doing this, I haven’t found a use for keeping a changelog. My git commit messages are my change log now. If I need to see my changelog.

git log

Or if I want the full details with what files changed.

git log --stat --summary

If you’re using git (if you’re not, why not?), you should start writing more then just a single line for a commit message. It helps you keep track of exactly what changed along with anyone else who is involved with the project.

Matt Loberg

Matt Loberg

Principal Software Engineer specializing in Open Source technologies and DevOps.