January 11, 2023

Release-please vs semantic-release

Release-please is flexible, while semantic-release is fully automated.


Release automation is an essential part of modern software development. It allows developers to focus on writing code and lets the release process take care of itself. There are several tools available that can help automate the release process, and two popular options are release-please and semantic-release.


Release-please is a command-line tool that helps automate the release process for Git repositories. It is designed to be simple and easy to use, with a focus on making the process of releasing software as frictionless as possible. Release-please handles tasks such as generating changelogs, bumping version numbers, and creating Git tags and release branches.

It's developed by Google and has a fairly popular, currently having 1.9K Github starts.


Semantic-release is another popular tool for automating releases. It is designed to be fully automated and uses semantic versioning to determine the appropriate version number for a new release. Semantic-release also generates changelogs and creates Git tags and release branches, but it does so using a pre-defined configuration file and a set of rules for determining the appropriate version number.

It has a way bigger following, currently boosting 17K starts on Github. Also, it has a much more cohesive and complete documentation with a full-on website, case studies, community plugins and even video resources to help you get started.

How do they compare to one another?

One key difference between release-please and semantic-release is that release-please is a command-line tool, while semantic-release is a library that can be integrated into a project's build process. This means that with semantic-release, the release process is fully automated and happens as part of the build process, while with release-please, the release process is initiated manually by running the release-please command.

Another difference is that release-please allows for more flexibility in terms of how releases are managed. It provides a number of options for customizing the release process, such as the ability to specify a particular version number or to skip certain tasks. Semantic-release, on the other hand, follows a more prescriptive approach, with a fixed set of rules for determining the version number and a fixed set of steps for creating a release.


Both release-please and semantic-release are useful tools for automating the release process, and the right choice will depend on the needs of your project. Release-please is a good choice for projects that require a more hands-on approach to releases, while semantic-release is better suited for fully automated release processes.