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Finch 🐦

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Finch is a configurable tool designed to make tracking the history and evolution of a product simple and easy to automate. It transforms a project's Git commit messages into well-formatted version changelogs — tailored to your team's specific needs.

Table of Contents

Why is it called 'Finch'?

The name Finch is derived from the purpose of the application itself — tracking the evolution of a product. Because evolution is at the core of Finch, it seemed appropriate to name it after an evolutionary landmark, Darwin's finches.

Philosophy

We at Instacart strongly believe in the importance of a good changelog. We also know changelogs can occasionally end up A) overlooked/untimely and B) difficult to maintain in terms of styling/approach as different team-members are managing a given release. It was these issues, and the desire to automate them for our team, which led to the creation of Finch. We believe that well-formed and intentional Git commit messages can serve as the underlying data for powering an automated and hassle-free changelog system. Through the use of some relatively minor commit-message discipline — and according to whatever conventions your team would like to use — Finch can help you automate your internal and external-facing changelogs, providing as much detail or polish as is desired.

Installation

Finch is available via multiple installation methods:

  • Installable package (recommended): Download and run the most recent release's Finch.pkg file and follow the on-screen instructions
  • Swift Package Manager: Add to your Package.swift file's dependencies: .package(url: "https://github.com/namolnad/Finch.git", from: "0.0.17") and call via swift run finch compare
  • From source: If you’d like to build from source, you can clone this repository and run make install from the root of the cloned directory. This will install and link the Finch binary and will place a template config file at the following location $HOME/.finch/template.config.yml

Usage

Finch requires a commit message [tag] commit message convention (we use square brackets surrounding our tags) which it utilizes to determine an appropriate section into which a given commit should be placed.

Example commit messages

[cleanup] Remove legacy obj-c code
[feature][app-store] Add teleportation capabilities

To generate a changelog you must run the compare command. If compare is passed no arguments, Finch will first look for the two most recent semantically-versioned branches then the two most recent semantically-versioned git tags. You can also explicitly pass two versions by using the --versions option and passing 2 version arguments (branch or tag). Other accepted argurments are:

  1. The ability to hide the version header (--no-show-version)
  2. Release manager (--release-manager)
  3. Project directory (--project-dir) if Finch is not called from project directory
  4. Manual git log (--git-log). Must be received in format: git log --left-right --graph --cherry-pick --oneline --format=format:'&&&%H&&& - @@@%s@@@###%ae###' --date=short OLD_VERSION...NEW_VERSION
  5. Don't fetch origin before auto-generating changelog (--no-fetch).
  6. Build number string to be included in version header (--build-number) Takes precedence over build number command in config. Example output: 6.19.1 (6258)

In many cases it may be easiest to create a new shell function when your shell startup files are sourced, such as the following:

project-changelog() {
  finch compare --project-dir="$HOME/Code/YourProject" --release-manager=$(git config --get user.email) $@
}

# Used in the following manner:
# project-changelog --versions 6.12.1 6.13.0

Configuration

View Finch's configurable components in this configuration template.

Config file location

Finch searches for a hidden .finch directory containing a config.yml file. The .finch directory can be placed in either the home, current, or project directories. Alternatively, if you provide a custom path through a --config argument or an env variable, Finch will look for a valid configuration file at the included path. Finch also allows for private config files in case you prefer to keep portions of your config outside your version-control sytem. See the search behavior below.

Config format

config.yml should be a valid YAML file in the same format as this config template. (Note: Not all keys need to be included as Finch uses default values where needed. You can see an example config at any time by running finch config show-example.

Config merging and search behavior

Finch will start with a default configuration and will search several paths for valid configuration files to override existing values. Any non-empty elements included in later configuration files will override their existing counterparts. Empty or omitted config file components will be ignored.

The config search paths will be executed in the following manner:

  • --config argument
  • FINCH_CONFIG Env var OR
  • Built in defaults overridden w/ waterfall technique (searching each directory first for config.yml, then for config.private.yml)
    • Home directory
    • Finch's current directory
    • --project-dir argument

Notes

  • Sections should be listed in the order you want them to be displayed in the output
  • If included sections have duplicative tags, the last section with a given tag wins. Each matching commit will be placed into its owning section.
  • One wildcard section can be included. Do so by including a * in the section's tag config.
  • Commits will only appear in a single section. Searches first for a section matching the first commit tag, then the second and so on.
  • Sections may be excluded by passing excluded: true in section config

Contributing

See CONTRIBUTING.md

Example output

# 6.13.0 (3242)

### Release Manager

 - @User.2

### Features
 - |wip||custom-lib| initial work on incorporating 1.0.0 — [PR #912](https://github.com/your_repo/pull/912) — @User.3
 - |checkout| improved tracking + logging — [PR #958](https://github.com/your_repo/pull/958) - @User.2

### Bug Fixes
 - |cleanup| remove unused obj-c experiment, fix some warnings — [PR #949](https://github.com/your_repo/pull/949) — @User.1
 - |cleanup| remove unused Lib — [PR #947](https://github.com/your_repo/pull/947) - @User.3

### Platform Improvements
 - |tooling| re-enable new build system — [PR #959](https://github.com/your_repo/pull/959) — @User.1
 - |platform| move to incremental compilation and ensure we're using same swift version across the board — [PR #966](https://github.com/your_repo/pull/966) — @User.2

### Timeline
 - Begin development:
 - Feature cut-off / Start of bake / dogfooding:
 - Submission:
 - Release (expected):
 - Release (actual):

License

Finch is released under the MIT License

Github

link
Stars: 1
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Dependencies

Used By

Total: 1

Releases

0.0.21 - Mar 4, 2019

0.0.21 (216)

Platform improvements

  • Statically link swift stdlib

0.0.20 - Mar 4, 2019

0.0.20 (214)

Features

  • Remove --to-pasteboard option

0.0.19 - Mar 3, 2019

0.0.19 (211)

Features

  • Add support for config.private.yml - PR #83
  • Add --required-tags option - PR #90

Bug Fixes

  • Fix capitalization behavior and toPasteboard comment - PR #91

0.0.18 - Mar 3, 2019

0.0.18 (202)

Features

  • Config --Show-Example - PR #60
  • Version Auto Resolution - PR #43
  • Normalize Tags & Improve Config - PR #56
  • Support Multiple Emails - PR #61

Bug Fixes

0.0.17 - Jan 31, 2019