From Chris Beams’ post in 2014:
- Separate subject from body with a blank line
- Limit the subject line to 50 characters
- Capitalize the subject line
- Do not end the subject line with a period
- Use the imperative mood in the subject line
- Wrap the body at 72 characters
- Use the body to explain what and why vs. how
Summarize changes in around 50 characters or less More detailed explanatory text, if necessary. Wrap it to about 72 characters or so. In some contexts, the first line is treated as the subject of the commit and the rest of the text as the body. The blank line separating the summary from the body is critical (unless you omit the body entirely); various tools like `log`, `shortlog` and `rebase` can get confused if you run the two together. Explain the problem that this commit is solving. Focus on why you are making this change as opposed to how (the code explains that). Are there side effects or other unintuitive consequences of this change? Here's the place to explain them. Further paragraphs come after blank lines. - Bullet points are okay, too - Typically a hyphen or asterisk is used for the bullet, preceded by a single space, with blank lines in between, but conventions vary here If you use an issue tracker, put references to them at the bottom, like this: Resolves: #123 See also: #456, #789
This format can be used in many ways besides just for development … and reminds me a bit of Commander’s Intent doctrine. It’s a structured memo format used in the military to address the usual “sea of uncertainty” when doing something complex and difficult that involves the coordination of many people.
As described in ADRP 5-0, the commander’s intent “succinctly describes what constitutes success for the operation. It includes the operation’s purpose, key tasks, and the conditions that define the end state. It links the mission, concept of operations, and tasks to subordinate units. A clear commander’s intent facilitates a shared understanding and focuses on the overall conditions that represent mission accomplishment.”10 Commander’s intent, when used properly, should bridge the gap between the mission and the concept of operations. [link]
Note that there’s no consensus on the format of a Commander’s Intent — which makes sense because every situation is always going to be different. A good leader is constantly needing weigh what they’ve said in the past and tweak and re-tweak until they get all the pieces right. And often times they will fail in the process. Why? Because victory is never guaranteed — no matter how clear you might be in communication style or delivery. Lots is left up to fate. That’s what makes it exciting! 🙂 —JM
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