Why conventional commits (with optional emojis)

Our reasons for using conventional commits (with optional emojis following the Gitmoji convention) across Seedcase repositories.

May 14, 2024

Context and problem statement

There are many ways to write commit messages, but having a consistent and standardised convention to follow can streamline the project history and make it easier to keep track of changes, as well as improve the speed and efficacy of the review process. It can also support coherence and consistency across contributions, which is especially important when working in a team-based and open source setting.


Note that the benefits described above are tightly coupled to a clear, consistent workflow on commit frequency and content (see the decision post on why we aim to make atomic commits and PRs).

Since commit message conventions are not enforced by Git itself, but rather by the team working on a given project, the question becomes:

Which commit message convention should we follow when we write commit messages in Seedcase codebases?

Decision drivers

In the Seedcase Project, we emphasise the open-source philosophies of transparency and collaboration. Therefore, it is essential to have a clear and consistent commit message convention to maintain these principles, both within the team and across external contributions.

Since we follow the GitHub flow, changes are made on topic branches and reviewed before merging into the main branch. Having a clear commit message convention can ease the review process, as the context and purpose of changes will be clearer for reviewers.

In addition, some commit message conventions can automate changelogs and release processes, which is beneficial for version management and for communicating changes to users and contributors.


Note that most commit conventions and best practices follow the same general principles, with some differences in syntax and structure.

In general, a commit message should be clear and concise (brief, but specific descriptions, avoiding vagueness and ambiguity), relevant (focus the why, not the how of the implementation), and consistent (follow a standard format).

A commit message should:

  • Include a short descriptive title, potentially followed by a body with more details.
  • Use the imperative, present tense in the title and the body (e.g., “Add feature” instead of “Added feature”)
  • Use the title to summarise the changes made in the commit.
  • Use a potential body to provide context and justifications for the change (such as elaboration on the changes, breaking changes, reference of issues, and tagging relevant people).

Considered options

There seem to be many general recommendations for best practices and fewer established conventions for how commit messages should be written. We will consider the conventions Conventional Commits and Gitmoji in the following sections.

Conventional commits

The Conventional Commits convention builds on the Angular convention, but was generalised to go beyond Typescript. It’s widely adopted due to its compatibility with semantic versioning and automated release processes. Moreover, it’s commonly used in various software development communities, including the open source communities. Its structured format aligns well with the organized and systematic approach favoured in open-source projects. It is also compatible with automated release processes which makes it appealing for managing versioning in software projects.

In this way, the Conventional Commits convention adds a both human and machine-readable structure to commit messages, which can help to make the history of the project more understandable and easier to track.

A conventional commit includes a header, an optional body, and an optional footer in each commit message, like shown below:

<type>[optional scope]: <description>

[optional body]

[optional footer(s)]

The header includes a type, an optional scope, and a description of the change. The type is a mandatory field that specifies the kind of change that the commit is providing (like feat, fix, refactor, doc, and chore). The scope is an optional field that specifies the part of the codebase that the commit is affecting. The description is a mandatory field that provides a concise summary of the change.

The optional body provides a longer description of the change, including the motivation of why the changes was implemented and how it contrasts with previous implementations. The optional footer contains metadata about the change, such as potential breaking changes and references to relevant issues.

The conventional commits convention is also supported by a VS Code extension that eases the process of writing commit messages in the correct format.


  • Provides a clear structure for commit messages.
  • Has an easy-to-use VS Code extension.
  • Can be used to generate changelogs.
  • Widespread adoption in various software development and open-source communities.


  • It might be too verbose for some projects (but using the VS Code extension eases the process substantially).
  • No use of emojis which can make commit messages more visually appealing and easier to scan for intention and purpose.

The Gitmoji convention

The Gitmoji commit message convention incorporates emojis to categorise commit messages. It’s an initiative to standardise the use of emojis in GitHub commit messages and it offers explanations of the meaning of each emoji. Each commit message consists of an intention (an emoji), an optional scope, and a message, like shown below:

<intention>(<scope>): <message>

Examples of intentions include :sparkles: for new features, :bug: for bug fixes, :recycle: for refactoring, and :memo: for documentation changes. The use of emojis can make commit messages more visually appealing and easier to scan, especially for those who are more visually oriented.


  • Provides a clear structure for commit messages.
  • Has an easy-to-use VS Code extension.
  • The use of emojis can make commit messages more visually appealing and easier to scan to identify the purpose or intention.
  • Gitmoji is an open-source project which fits well with the open-source philosophy of the Seedcase Project.


  • For those not familiar with emojis or who are less visually oriented, it might be harder to understand the meaning of the commit.
  • No structured format for the body or footer of the commit message to provide more context.

Decision outcome

When deciding which commit message convention to follow in all Seedcase projects, the most important thing is to explicitly include a convention that everyone agrees on and follows. Both conventions described above include a structured format for commit messages, which can help to make the history of the project more understandable and easier to track.

We decided to use the Conventional Commits convention with the inclusion of optional emojis (following the use of emojis in the Gitmoji convention). The Conventional Commits convention is widely adopted, has an easy-to-use VS Code extension, and can be used to generate SemVar changelogs. Since emojis are incorporated in the Conventional Commits extension, we have the option to include emojis in commit messages to make commit messages more visually appealing and easier to scan for purpose or intention.


By using the Conventional Commits convention with optional emojis, we aim to make our commit messages more consistent, informative, and visually appealing. This will help to improve the readability of the commit history, facilitate the review process, and automate changelogs and release processes. This fits well with the open source philosophies we strive to follow. However, to achieve these benefits, it is important that everyone in the team as well as potential external contributors are aware of and follow this convention. Within the Seedcase core team, we all use VS Code and the easy-to-use extension enables us to follow the Conventional Commits convention effortlessly.

Note that following a commit message convention alone doesn’t ensure a clear project history. Following a commit convention that includes commit content and frequency is as essential as a commit message convention. See the Why atomic commits and PRs decision post for a discussion of such conventions.