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A particular Git workflow implementation with a development/staging/production code-flow model and support for multiple repositories as part of a larger project.

Project description

Git clone URL: git://

Project page:

Change history

2.0a8 (2010-04-11)

  • Bound GitPython dependency at version 0.1.7. gitctl is not compatible with the newer versions. [dokai]

  • Added experimental Growl support. You need to have the Growl python bindings installed for it to work.

2.0a7 (2009-08-03)

  • Added a new –from-file option which tells to read the names of components from a given file. The command then applies to the given components only. [rnd]

  • Added “gitctl path” command which prints path(s) to directories for given component name(s). [rnd]

  • Added “gitctl sh” command which performs specified shell commands (given with -c option) in each component’s directory. E.g. gitctl sh -c ‘git status’ will execute “git status” for each component. [rnd]

2.0a6 (2009-05-27)

  • Refactored the “gitctl pending” command to support only the comparison between the pinned down revisions in the externals configuration and the HEADs of the production branches. In practice this means the the former –production switch is the default behavior and the –production, –staging and –dev options have been removed. The refactored “gitctl status” replaces the former functionality. [dokai]

  • Refactored the “gitctl status” command to give more elaborate information about the status of the repository. [dokai]

  • Refactored the pretty printer to include a space between the component name and the dotted justification. This will make it easier to use the output of gitctl in other scripts. [dokai]

  • Added a new –verbose global option. Providing the –verbose option will give the same output as 2.0a5. Without the option the gitctl will only report changed components which will reduce the output significantly and make it easier to see what changed.

  • Print normal program output to stdout and only errors to stderr. [dokai]

  • When updating a hard-pinned revision perform a “git reset –hard” to enforce the revision. This fixes some issue where the working directory was in an inconsistent state and the checkout failed. [dokai]

  • Refactored the generate_externals function to guarantee the order of sections in the generated configuration file. [dokai]

2.0a5 (2008-10-01)

  • Changed ‘gitctl update’ to attempt a fast-forward merge on all configured branches. If fast-forward is not possible a message will be shown and the branch left unchanged. [dokai]

2.0a4 (2008-09-25)

  • Fixed ‘gitctl pending –production’ which compared the wrong trees. When using pinned down revisions (HEADless working directories) we need to always compare against the remote branches. [dokai]

  • Fixed a bug in ‘gitctl pending’ if not all branches were available. [dokai]

  • Added the ‘-v’ switch to show the version of the gitctl. [dokai]

2.0a3 (2008-09-21)

  • Added support for specifying the initial commit message by using ‘gitctl create –message’. [dokai]

  • Fixed ‘gitctl create’ to not leave the upstream repository’s HEAD in broken state. [dokai]

  • Added support for specifying which projects to operate on in addition to performing an operation on all the projects in the externals configuration. [dokai]

  • Added a –no-fetch option to ‘gitctl pending’ to avoid fetching. [dokai]

  • ‘gitctl update’ now shows which projects were updated and which were not when using pinned down revisions [dokai]

2.0a2 (2008-09-15)

  • Fixed a critical bug with ‘gitctl update’ when using pinned down revisions. [dokai]

2.0a1 (2008-09-15)

  • Complete overhaul to implement (a particular) Git workflow process in addition to custom externals handling. This breaks backward compatibility with the 1.x version but provides somewhat equivalent functionality. [dokai]

1.0b1 (2008-06-12)

  • Initial public release [dokai]


The purpose of this package is to implement a particular workflow for using Git to manage a project that consists of multiple independent subprojects. The original motivation is a zc.buildout driven system, but the implementation is not dependent on this. This is not a 100% generic tool, but the workflow is fairly common so it may be adaptable for other use cases also.

The workflow consists of using three pre-defined branches to model the development, staging and production phases of code. We assume the use of a canonical central repository that developers use to sync their official changes. This repository is considered to be the canonical source and provides the “official” state of the projects. Developers are free to use any number of branches, tags and repositories as part of their daily work.

The code normally flows from development to staging to production and the package provides tools to facilitate this process. Each individual Git repository is managed using any of the tools that Git provides.

In addition, the package provides a light-weight “externals” mechanism for easily pulling in and managing the subprojects. This differs from the functionality provided by git-submodule in that both pinned-down and open dependencies can be defined. This resembles the way externals are handled in Subversion. Also, the individual Git repositories are not aware of the externals and the externals configuration is kept in a single location.


The package uses two different configuration files. The gitctl.cfg file provides the higher level configuration and allows you to specify things like the canonical repository and the names of your development, staging and production branches. The gitexternals.cfg defines your project specific configuration of required sub-components.



The name used to refer to the canonical repository server, e.g. “origin”.


The address of the canonical repository server. This address needs to point to the server in a manner that supports pushing. Currently only SSH is tested. Example:


List of newline separated branches that will be tracked in the local repository. When the repositories are clone for each branch listed here a local tracking branch will be automatically created.


Name of the development branch. The above branches listing will be made to implicitly contain this branch.


Name of the staging branch. The above branches listing will be made to implicitly contain this branch.


Name of the production branch. The above branches listing will be made to implicitly contain this branch.


Email address where commit emails will be sent. Only used when creating new repositories.


The commit email prefix. Only used when creating new repositories.

An example configuration follows:

upstream = origin
upstream-url =
branches =
development-branch = development
staging-branch = staging
production-branch = production
commit-email =
commit-email-prefix = [GIT]


The externals configuration consists of one or more sections that have the following properties. Each section name will be used to name the directory where the external will be cloned into.

url (mandatory)

Full URL to the remote repository, e.g

type (optional)

The type of the remote repository. Currently only git is supported.

treeish (optional)

The name of a “treeish” object that is checked out by default when first cloning the remote repository. The treeish object may refer, for example, to a branch or a tag. Defaults to master.

container (optional)

The name of the directory where the project will be checked out into. An additional directory will be created under this one where the project files will be located so it is safe to use the same value for multiple projects. Relative paths are considered relative to the location of the config file.

An example configuration follows:

url =
type = git
treeish = v1.0-dev
container = src

This results in the my.project.git repository to be cloned into ./src/my.project and the v1.0-dev to be checked out into the working directory.

gitctl script

The gitctl script provides subcommands to implement the workflow. Each subcommand provides additional options. See gitctl [subcommand] --help for details:

usage: gitctl [-h] [-v] [--config CONFIG] [--externals EXTERNALS] [--verbose]
              {status,create,update,sh,branch,path,fetch,pending} ...

Git workflow utility for managing projects containing multiple git

positional arguments:
    create              Initializes a new local repository and creates a
                        matching upstream repository.
    update              Updates the configured repositories by either
                        attempting a fast-forward merge on existing project
                        branches or cloning new projects.
    path                Shows the path to the project directory.
    sh                  Executes shell command for specified projects.
    status              Shows the status of each external project and alerts
                        if any are out of sync with the upstream repository.
    branch              Provides information and operates on the branches of
                        the projects.
    pending             Checks if there are any pending changes in the
                        production branches compared to the pinned down
                        versions in externals configuration.
    fetch               Updates the remote branches on all projects without

optional arguments:
  -h, --help            show this help message and exit
  -v, --version         show program's version number and exit
  --config CONFIG       Location of the configuration file. If omitted the
                        following locations will be search: $PWD/gitctl.cfg,
  --externals EXTERNALS
                        Location of the externals configuration file. Defaults
                        to $PWD/gitexternals.cfg
  --verbose             Prints more verbose output about repositories.


Using setuptools:

$ easy_install gitctl


gitctl path

Outputs the path(s) of the project directories:

$ cd /Users/rnd/buildout/
$ gitctl path -f refactoring_these_projects

where the refactoring_these_projects file contains project names, one per line:


These project names map to the sections in the gitexternals.cfg configuration.

Without providing project names, all project paths will be output.

gitctl sh

Executes shell command in each project directory (that is, the directory with path gitctl path shows). Some examples (using the same file refactoring_these_projects as above).

Show branches for each project (PROJECT environment variable holds the name of the project):

gitctl sh -f refactoring_these_projects -c 'echo $PROJECT; git branch'

Making feature branch:

gitctl sh -f refactoring_these_projects -c 'git checkout -b my_f_branch'

Mass-check out certain feature branch (first, all projects to development, then checkout feature branch only for projects under refacture):

gitctl sh -c 'git checkout development'
gitctl sh -f refactoring_these_projects -c 'git checkout my_f_branch'

Get a list of projects which have production different from development (N.B. checked via commit, not diff, so, some listed project may really be textually identical):

gitctl sh -f refactoring_these_projects -c '[ `git rev-parse development` != `git rev-parse origin/production` ] && echo $PROJECT' 2> /dev/null

Make some operations on selected projects:

gitctl sh -f refactoring_these_projects -c 'git commit -m "Added newfeature"'



  • Kai Lautaportti, Author [dokai]

  • Roman Susi, [rnd]

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