Automatically update README during release

- 3 mins


For my open source projects I like to include a quick start snippet in their README files, so users can quickly get started using it. All my READMEs thus contain a copyable snippet with the project’s maven coordinates. But there is one obvious problem: these coordinates change with every release because the version is incremented. Before starting a release I always need to remember to manually update the README and insert the upcoming release’s version. After years of doing this manually, I just now decided to automate this process and it works like a charm.

My implementation uses the following technologies:

I’m using the following flow for development/releasing:

Step 1 is automated using gitflow:release-start and the remaining steps are automated using gitflow:release-finish. This flow now only needs minimum adjustments to automatically update the README:

Automatically update the README

First, we copy the from the project’s base directory into a sub directory, i.e. reamde/

Next, we will use the maven-resources-plugin to replace placeholders in the README and copy the result into the project’s base directory:


The flag filtering=true enables the resource filtering mechanism that is responsible for resolving placeholders within the resources, just like you know it from the pom.xml itself. You are now able to use placeholders like ${project.version} in your readme/

Last thing we need to do is committing the automatically created README as part of the release process. If you take a look back at the release flow outlined at the beginning, you’ll notice the mvn verify call that is already executed during release. As we have bound the maven-resources-plugin execution to the validate phase (a pretty early phase, actually) the README already has been processed after this call. All that is left to do now is, to commit the file:

git add
git commit -m "Update README during release"

You can find a real world example including a Jenkinsfile at GitHub.

Further notes

I believe this can be easily taken even further: For example I’m planning to automatically include unit tested example code snippets into the project’s documentation.

There is also one thing that is still bugging me: Merging the release branch with the updated SNAPSHOT version into dev always restores the as tracked file in git. The restored file now contains the last release version and you always end up with a dirty workspace when building locally because the build overrides the file. Ideally the generated file should not be added to the repository at all except for master branch.

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