Beginners Guide: What Is A Changelog, And Why Do I Need It?

For non-techy people out there, terminologies such as changelog or git could be baffling. If you’re one of those who get confused whenever encountering these words, this article is for you. Technology has reached so far that transactions and other processes have become digital. Whatever people want to do, technology has made it more manageable. It’s no surprise that many people make the most of it. If you want to know more about the subject, read on.

What is a Changelog?

We’ll try to explain this in the most non-techy way so everyone can relate. One of the very first questions that a beginner would ask upon encountering this word –what is a changelog? Is it an outer space thing? No, it isn’t. Please don’t confuse it with (space) log. Basically, a changelog is like a note of every essential change made in a particular project.

Most often, changelogs are on projects such as a website or software someone is developing. If you go into your phone’s App Store and try to click on an app, you will immediately see a “What’s New” section. That section is an excellent example of a changelog. A changelog is an essential component in a project; thus, it needs an organised and systematic construction to view the changes and not get confused. Almost everything technology-related has changelogs, so it’s essential to understand why this 10-letter word is crucial to everything digital.

How To Write a Changelog?

Since you have, perhaps, already gotten a good grasp of what changelog is, the next big question would then be how to write it. It’s not like writing an essay, so of course, it would need some form of technicality. Luckily, we might have the easiest ways to do that. Obviously, a changelog is for people to read. So, there is no use for you to write them in codes or symbols that only machines would understand. To create a changelog, it should be comprehensive and, at the same time, precise.

There are many ways to write a changelog, so we’ll focus on the easiest way to do that. Here are the steps you need to do in generating or writing a changelog:

Step 1: Write The Logs In A Chronologically Reverse Order

Remember that you are writing because there are recent additions or revisions to the project. If you write them in the usual way of writing, you will have to go through to the bottom of the document to reach the latest update.

That is a major NO when it comes to writing changelogs! You are looking to update the users or customers about what’s recent in your project.

If you don’t write them in a reverse chronology, by the time they reach the update, there would have been a newer update available. You get my point!

Step 2: Format Your Writing

You’re not writing a release note, so you must keep your changelog adequately formatted. They shouldn’t contain long sentences or paragraphs, but they should also not be in a code, signs, or symbols.

It is wise to use headings, subheadings, or even bullets to keep your changelog super user-friendly. If you still can’t get a picture of what a proper changelog looks like, try to visit your phone’s App Store and click on any application to look for the ‘What’s New’ section.

Keep your changelogs short yet comprehensive. People don’t have all day. They won’t be reading through a two to three-page document to know the changes made in the system.

It’s important only to include the relevant changes to the system. Don’t write something like this: April 16, 2021 Changes – added letter ‘s’ on updates. Those are minor updates or changes that users wouldn’t even care about or notice.

Step 3: It Is Wise To Follow Semantic Versioning

Use semantic versioning if you want your changelog to be inviting to readers. Basically, there are three (3) components in this type of versioning. Let us name these three components as X, Y, and Z. Your X should contain a significant version change in the project. You made changes in the system, and it affected the Application Programming Interface (API) of the system, which is then considered a significant version change.

Now, you don’t get to choose the number you will put on your X. Depending on how frequently you have made significant version changes in the system, your X component increases by one (1). Respectively, each time your X component increases by one, your Y and Z components reset to 0. For example, your most current software version is 3.6.9. Your next version update would be 4.0.0.

On the other hand, your Y component should contain minor versions. These minor versions could include any additional, deprecated, or functions taken out of the system. Just like when your X component increases, every time you have a minor version update, your Y component also increases by one (1). However, when this happens, you should reset your Z component to zero and leave the X component as is.

Lastly, your Z component represents patch versions. This component is only used for bug fixes. There are no functionality changes or updates to the system, so the only number that should change in the semantic version is the Z component. There are no caps to how much the numbers could increase. For example, your current version is 3.6.9; the next patch version should be 3.6.10, respectively.

You can also consider finding a professional changelog tool to maintain all the difficult work for you. With such a tool you will never have to think about all the steps of writing you must follow. You can be sure that your changelogs are well-written and always up-to-date. 

In your semantic versioning, please include the following to ensure that people would better understand the changes in your project:

  • Release date
  • Added
  • Changed
  • Deprecated
  • Removed
  • Fixed
  • Security

Now that you already know how to write a proper changelog, it’s time to get right on to the advantages of having an up-to-date changelog.

Advantages of Updating Changelog

The primary goal of writing or generating changelogs is to keep customers or viewers informed of any recent and essential changes in the system.

1. Helps Keep Customers Up-To-Date

Customers wouldn’t be too happy to know that recent significant changes were made in the system without them being informed. You wouldn’t be, too. Imagine not being able to find where the Chat section is because, unfortunately, it changed the interface of the system. It’s confusing! Changelogs are a way to help customers, viewers, and users of your project know any relevant changes made to the system. This way, they wouldn’t encounter any significant troubles.

2. Helps Track Changes In The System

If customers could get confused, developers can, too. Changelogs are practical tools in tracking significant changes in the system. That way, they could quickly identify which else needs fixes (like if there were bugs in the latest updates, etc.)


Now that you know everything there is in a changelog and the significance of using one and writing one, perhaps it’s time to consider drafting your very own(if you are considering doing some projects).

We sincerely hope that these guides somehow helped you understand everything there is to know about the subject.