Skip to main content

Command a fleet of repositories

ยท 5 min read

As a developer you operate on many repositories. To keep all of the repositories up-to-date there are as many strategies as there are developers. Personally I have gone from doing it manually, to writing scripts (e.g. 1, 2), trying different tools (e.g. 1), and the latter is what this post is about.

Enter, stage left: myrepos

myrepos is a command-line tool which adds the mr command to your environment. mr does not care about different version control systems, it supports all of them.

The standard way to use mr is to go into each one of your repositories and run the command mr register for mr to add it to your configuration file in ~/.mrconfig.

This is a bit tedious, though it can easily be automated. After all the repositories have been registered with mr, then it can pull off its party tricks. ๐ŸŽ‰

The first trick is to clone all the repos into a nice hierarchy, with a single command: mr checkout.

The next trick is to update all of the repos: mr update. This is just the start, however, first you must install the mr command.

Install myrepos

mr is a Perl script, and it is available anywhere Perl runs. To name a few ways to install it:

  • Git: git clone git:// myrepos
  • Debian/Ubuntu: apt install myrepos
  • Arch: pacman -Sy myrepos
  • Alpine: apk add myrepos
  • Nix: nix-env -i mr
  • FreeBSD: pkg install myrepos
  • Homebrew: brew install mr

Recursive commands

If a command, for example mr update, is run in e.g. ~/dev/dhis2/apps/usage-analytics, then mr only runs it on that repository.

If it is run in the parent, e.g. ~/dev/dhis2/apps, then it only runs the update command in all children of that directory. In this case, it would run update in all the app repositories.

If the command is run on a higher level, e.g. in ~/dev/dhis2 then the command applies to all registered repositories in dhis2/.

Through this hierarchical structure, it is possible to manage all of your repositories using a single configuration file, both personal and work related, simply by running your commands in the relevant directory.

Standard operations

The primary commands you will want to use are:

  • mr checkout clones any repositories which don't already exist
  • mr update updates all the repositories
  • mr clean prints the ignored/untracked files in repos, use -f to remove files as well
  • mr status shows you the status of each repo; handy to figure out if any repos have pending changes
  • mr diff shows you the diffs from all repos
  • mr run allows you to run an arbitrary command in all repos

Check out the manual of myrepos, it is not long and has some nice tidbits about parallel execution. Alright, I will give up that last one: use the switch mr -j 5 to run 5 concurrent jobs.

Custom operations

This is where the tool starts to shine, not only is this a full-featured repository manager; it also gives you tools to do batch operations across multiple repositories.

Custom commands under the [DEFAULT] section only apply to the repositories which are under that section. This is why all the custom commands are placed at the very top of the .mrconfig file.

Some examples I use it for are:

Purge Node modulesโ€‹

To save on space I have a mr nuke command set up which removes the node_modules from all repositories:

nuke = if [ -d ./node_modules ]; then rm -rf ./node_modules; else echo "Skipping ... No node_modules/"; fi

Generate bundle reportsโ€‹

It is easy to extend this to e.g. run yarn install in all repositories. Or, generate bundle reports of all the apps using source-map-explorer:

report =
GENERATE_SOURCEMAP=true yarn build
mkdir $HOME/reports
source-map-explorer build/**/*.js --html > "${HOME}/reports/$(basename $(pwd))-$(git rev-parse --short HEAD).html"

I use this to serve a listing of bundle reports for analysis.

Check out the common ancestor of multiple branchesโ€‹

It is possible to teach mr a lot of tricks, some handier than others, for example figuring out the merge-base for different branches:

octo = git checkout $(git merge-base --octopus $(for b in "$@"; do echo "origin/${b}"; done))

Which can be used as: mr octo master v32 and it will give you the merge-base between origin/master and origin/v32 and check it out for you.

This simplifies backporting bugfixes a bit.

Some other ideas for scripts to try and set up

  • mr unlink: Remove any symlinks (created through e.g. yarn link) between packages
  • mr link <package>: Create a symlink to a specific package and link it to all packages that depend on it.
  • mr boil: Setup all the standards for code, repos, packages, continuous integration on a new branch, commit the changes, and push the new branch to origin in a new PR.

Future work

At some point it might make sense to integrate this type of functionality into d2, but for now, mr is a very handy tool for developers who have to deal with multiple repositories.

Shared configuration

This is my full configuration at the time of writing. You can use it to get started, or set up your own from scratch with only the repos and target directories you need.

Do you have any useful ideas for a command? Please comment on the Gist. ๐Ÿ˜˜