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vcs-repo-mgr 0.2.1

Version control repository manager

Latest Version: 0.15.1

The Python package vcs-repo-mgr provides a command line program and Python API to perform common operations (in the context of packaging/deployment) on version control repositories. It’s currently tested on Python 2.6, 2.7 and 3.4. At the moment only Mercurial and Git repositories are supported.


To get started you have to install the package:

peter@macbook> pip install vcs-repo-mgr

You will also need Mercurial and/or Git installed (depending on the type of repositories you want to work with). Here’s how you install them on Debian/Ubuntu:

peter@macbook> sudo apt-get install mercurial git-core

You now have the vcs-tool command available:

peter@macbook> vcs-tool --help
Usage: vcs-tool [OPTIONS]

Supported options:

  -r, --repository=NAME       name of configured repository
      --rev, --revision=REV   revision to export (used in combination
                              with the options -n, -i and -e)
  -d, --find-directory        print the absolute path of the local repository
  -n, --find-revision-number  find the local revision number of the revision
                              given with --rev
  -i, --find-revision-id      find the global revision id of the revision
                              given with --rev
  -u, --update                update local clone of repository by
                              pulling latest changes from remote
  -e, --export=DIR            export contents of repository to
                              directory (used in combination
                              with --revision)
  -v, --verbose               make more noise
  -h, --help                  show this message and exit

The value of --revision defaults to `master' for git repositories and `default'
for Mercurial repositories.

Before you can use the vcs-tool command you have to create a configuration file:

peter@macbook> cat > ~/.vcs-repo-mgr.ini << EOF
type = git
local = /tmp/coloredlogs
remote =

Below are some examples of the command line interface. If you’re interested in using the Python API please refer to the online documentation.

Updating repositories

If the configuration file defines a local and remote repository and the local repository doesn’t exist yet it will be created the first time you update it:

peter@macbook> vcs-tool --repository coloredlogs --update
2014-05-04 18:55:54 INFO Creating Git clone of at /tmp/coloredlogs ..
Cloning into bare repository '/tmp/coloredlogs'...
remote: Reusing existing pack: 96, done.
remote: Counting objects: 5, done.
remote: Compressing objects: 100% (5/5), done.
remote: Total 101 (delta 0), reused 0 (delta 0)
Receiving objects: 100% (101/101), 28.11 KiB, done.
Resolving deltas: 100% (44/44), done.

Later runs will pull the latest changes instead of performing a full clone:

peter@macbook> vcs-tool --repository coloredlogs --update
2014-05-04 18:55:56 INFO Updating Git clone of at /tmp/coloredlogs ..
 * branch HEAD -> FETCH_HEAD

Finding revision numbers/ids

Revision numbers are integer numbers that increment with every added revision. They’re very useful during packaging/deployment:

peter@macbook> vcs-tool --repository coloredlogs --revision master --find-revision-number

Revision ids (hashes) are hexadecimal strings that uniquely identify revisions. They are useful to unambiguously refer to a revision and its history (e.g while building a package you can embed the revision id as a hint about the origins of the package):

peter@macbook> vcs-tool --repository coloredlogs --revision master --find-revision-id

Exporting revisions

The repositories created by vcs-repo-mgr do not contain a working tree, just the version control files (in Git terminology this is called a “bare repository”). This has two reasons:

  1. Bare repositories help conserve disk space. This is insignificant for small repositories, but on large repositories it can make a noticeable difference. Especially if you’re using a lot of them :-)
  2. Bare repositories enforce the principle that the working tree shouldn’t be used during packaging (instead you should export the tree at a specific revision to a temporary directory and use that). This insistence on not using the working tree during packaging has two reasons:
    1. The working tree can contain files which are not under version control. Such files should certainly not be included in a package unintentionally.
    2. If the working tree of a repository is used, this makes it impossible to safely perform parallel builds from the same repository (the builds can corrupt each other’s working tree).

This means that if you want to do something with the files in the repository you have to export a revision to a (temporary) directory:

peter@macbook> vcs-tool --repository coloredlogs --export /tmp/coloredlogs-snapshot
2014-05-04 19:17:24 INFO Exporting revision master of /tmp/coloredlogs to /tmp/coloredlogs-snapshot ..

peter@macbook> ls -l /tmp/coloredlogs-snapshot
total 28K
drwxrwxr-x 2 peter peter 4.0K May  3 14:31 coloredlogs
drwxrwxr-x 3 peter peter 4.0K May  3 14:31 vim
-rw-rw-r-- 1 peter peter 1.1K May  3 14:31 LICENSE.txt
-rw-rw-r-- 1 peter peter   56 May  3 14:31
-rw-rw-r-- 1 peter peter 5.4K May  3 14:31 README.rst
-rwxrwxr-x 1 peter peter 1.1K May  3 14:31


The latest version of vcs-repo-mgr is available on PyPi and GitHub. For bug reports please create an issue on GitHub. If you have questions, suggestions, etc. feel free to send me an e-mail at


This software is licensed under the MIT license.

© 2014 Peter Odding.

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