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Wrapper git to automate running scripts.

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The Git Iterator giit is a small tool for running commands on branches and tags of a git repository.

It’s original purpose was to allow Sphinx documentation to be easily generated for all available tags of a bunch of different repositories. However, should you find a different use for it - you should also be able to adapt it to other scenarios.

Quick Start

To use giit you define a giit.json file which contains the steps you want giit to be able to run. Note, the giit.json file can live in the root of the repository.

Let’s say we want to generate the Sphinx documentation for a specific repository.


giit is a Python package so you can pip install it. If you just want to try it out use a virtualenv or similar:

$ virtualenv giit
$ source giit/bin/activate

Now install the giit package:

$ pip install giit

Example: C++ project documentation endian

giit uses a giit.json file to describe the different steps:

    "docs": {
        "branches.regex.filters": [
        "scripts": [
            "sphinx-build -b html . ${build_path}"
        "cwd": "${source_path}/docs",
        "requirements": "${source_path}/docs/requirements.txt"

Lets build the endian Sphinx documentation ( by running giit:

giit docs --config_path ./giit.json

You should now seem something like:

Lets go: docs
Building into: /tmp/giit/data/build/endian-30a816
Using git version: 2.34.1
Using git repository:
Running: git clone into /tmp/giit/data/clones/endian-30a816
Using giit.json from path /tmp/giit_cwd/giit.json
Tasks generated 1
Running task [1/1]: scope 'branch' name 'master' checkout 'origin/master'
Python: sphinx-build -b html . /tmp/giit/data/build/endian-30a816

If you visit /tmp/giit/data/build/endian-30a816 with your web browser you should be able to see the endian Sphinx documentation.

giit.json location

Since the content of the giit.json file fully determines the steps taken by giit understanding how the giit.json file is found is quite important.

The following outlines the rules:

  1. Passing a path using --config_path or passing a branch using --config_branch.

  2. If no config path or branch is passed by the user and giit is invoked with an URL (like in the endian example).


    giit docs

    In this case giit will look at the root of the repository in origin/master branch for a giit.json.

  3. If no config path or branch is passed by the user and giit is invoked with a path:

    git docs ../path/to/repo

    In this case giit will try to find a giit.json at ../path/to/repo/giit.json.

Filters and tasks

As we saw in the endian example a single task is generated for building the origin/master branch. We can generate more tasks by setting up more filters.

As a quick note it is also possible to not specify any filters. In that case a single task for running the specified scripts will be gererated (with a limited context - see below).

To specify the different filters here are the available options:


This is a list of regular expressions that will be matched against the branch name. If the regular expression matches a task will be generated.

For example (in giit.json):

"branches.regex.filters": [


When invoking giit with a path to a repository e.g.: giit docs ../path/repo. giit can be instructed to build the remote tracking branch currently checkout out in ../path/repo.

This is useful in continuous integration systems.

For example (in giit.json):

"branches.source_branch": true


This is a list of regular expressions that will be matched against the tag name. If the regular expression matches a task will be generated.

For example (in giit.json):

"tags.regex.filters": [


If a project uses sematic versioning the semver filter can be used.

For example (in giit.json):

"tags.semver.filters": [
    ">=0.1.1", "<0.3.0"

We use you can find more examples of requirement specifications there.


If a project uses “kind-of” semver, such as 1.20, you can set the semver filter in relaxed mode and still use the filters.

For example (in giit.json):

"tags.semver.relaxed": true


The workingtree filter is useful for quickly iterating on stuff. It is similar to the source_branch filter. In that if giit is invoked with a path, then that path will be the workingtree this allows you to run giit without commit’ing pushing changes.

For example (in giit.json):

"workingtree": true

No filter

If you pass no filter e.g. tags, branches or workingtree, giit will generate a single task for just running the script.

Command-line filtering

Per default giit will run all tasks generated by the config file. By specifying the task_filter argument you can filter which tasks are run. Any tasks that doesn’t match the given shell-style wildcard expression will not be run. The special characters used in shell-style wildcards are:




matches everything


matches any single character


matches any character in seq


matches any character not in seq

Context and variables

In the endian example you may have noticed what we used the ${build_path} and ${source_path} in the json configuration.

These denote variables that will be substituted when running the tasks. The following variables are always available:

  • build_path: This points to the directory where the command is expected to output any artifacts produced by the command. It is up to the giit.json author to ensure this happens.

  • source_path: This is the path to where the current git repository is checked out.

  • checkout: This is the checkout of that was used.

  • name: This is a shorter version of checkout. E.g. for branches if the checkout is origin/master the name will be master. Also if the checkout contains / that may result in unwanted sub-directories. In the name we replace / with _. So if a branch is called origin/bug/543 the name will be bug_543.

  • scope: This can be one of three values. Either tag, branch or workingtree.

Note, only the ${build_path} variable is available when running without any filters.


Here we will use the ${name} variable to output documentation for the different tags to different folders:

    "docs": {
        "branches.regex.filters": [
        "tags.semver.filters": [
        "tags.semver.relaxed": true,
        "scripts": [
            "sphinx-build -b html . ${build_path}/${name}"
        "python_path": "${source_path}/src",
        "cwd": "${source_path}/docs",
        "requirements": "${source_path}/docs/requirements.txt"

User variables

In some cases we want to define our own variables according to some simple rules.

This is done either using the variables attribute in the json or by using the --variable [name] [value] command line argument.

User variables are define using the following syntax:


Where scope and remote_branch are optional.

This can be used to customize e.g. the output of a command. Consider the following example:

    "docs": {
        "scripts": [
            "sphinx-build -b html . ${output_path}"
        "variables": {
            "branch:origin/master:output_path": "${build_path}/docs/latest",
            "branch:output_path": "${build_path}/sphinx/${name}",
            "tag:output_path": "${build_path}/docs/${name}",
            "workingtree:output_path": "${build_path}/workingtree/sphinx"

When calling giit docs ... we use the user defined output_path variable.

Let walk though the different values output_path can take.

  • If scope is branch and the branch is origin/master then output_path will be ${build_path}/docs/latest.

  • For all other branches output_path will be ${build_path}/sphinx/${name} where ${name} will be the branch name.

  • For the tags output_path will be ${build_path}/docs/${name} where name is the tag value e.g. 1.0.0 etc.

  • Finally if we are in the workingtree scope the output_path variable will be ${build_path}/workingtree/sphinx

Lets see how this could look (build_path is /tmp/project):

Tag 1.0.0 -----------> /tmp/project/docs/1.0.0
Tag 2.0.0 -----------> /tmp/project/docs/2.0.0
Tag 2.1.0 -----------> /tmp/project/docs/2.1.0
Tag 3.0.0 -----------> /tmp/project/docs/3.0.0
Branch master -------> /tmp/project/docs/latest
Branch trying_new ---> /tmp/project/sphinx/trying_new
Branch new_idea -----> /tmp/project/sphinx/new_idea
Workingtree ---------> /tmp/project/workingtree

Optional Variables

In some cases you may want to have optional variables. These can be specified in a similar way as with non optional variables, the only difference is that you need to use the £ character instead of the $ character. If the variable doesn’t exists it simply be removed.

Escaping Variable Replacements

If you want to use either $ or £ as characters in the giit configuration file, you need to escape them. This is done using $$ or ££ respectively.

giit command line arguments

The giit tool takes two mandatory arguments and a number of options:

giit STEP REPOSITORY [--options]

Argument: STEP

Selects the step in the giit.json file to run.


The URL or path to the git repository.

Option: --build_path

Sets the build path (i.e. where the output artifacts/data) will be generated/ built. This argument is available in the giit.json as the ${build_path} variable.

Option: --giit_path

This path is where the giit tool will store configurations, virtualenvs clones created while running the tool. It also serves as a cache, to speed up builds.

Option: --config_branch

Specifies the a branch where the giit.json file will be take from.

Option: --config_path

Sets the path to where the giit.json file.

Option --variable

Extends the variables set for each step.

Option -v / --verbose

Allows the verbosity level of the tool to be increased generating more debug information on the command line.

The clean step

This step is always defined, in addition to the steps defined in the giit.json file. The clean step just remove the build_path.

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