Upgrade Guides

Published See discussion on Twitter

Most healthy open source projects maintain a changelog, that annotates the changes made to the project over time, and usually relates those changes to the semver version that they are released with.

However, these changelogs tend to not go into details about how that change will impact projects relying on the library. Usually the changelog is just a convenience feature that allows people to track changes over time.

Something I've been thinking about for a while is if projects should offer either a more robust changelog, or a new file entirely that can better speak to the impact of changes made to the library over time.

The design systems team at Wayfair has been tinkering in this space for a few years now, usually when we deprecated a component or another piece of code we authored an upgrade guide or manual to help the features relying on the now deprecated component to move to the proper supported patterns.

Usually those guides are finely scoped to specific components, but what if every library kept an upgrade guide that covered all aspects of the library?

This would be incredibly useful for consumers of the library if they fall behind by several releases, allowing them to follow the guide from version to version, making the required changes within their codebase.

I could imagine these guides being setup as a similar format as most changelog.md files, broken down by release with detailed notes on how the consumer can navigate any changes that the library is making.

This could also be a really useful resource for libraries that plan out their breaking changes, they can use this guide as a place to note upcoming breaking changes and how projects can plan for those changes before they are released.

What are your thoughts about this concept? Would you find it valuable for the libraries you depend upon to ship a upgrade-guide.md document alongside their existing changelog?