Recovering a Branch From a Bazaar Repository

In my previous entry, I mentioned that Andrew was actually publishing the contents of all his Bazaar branches with his rsync script, even though he was only advertising a single branch. Yesterday I had a need to actually do this, so I thought I’d detail how to do it.

As a refresher, a Bazaar repository stores the revision graph for the ancestry of all the branches stored inside it. A branch is essentially just a pointer to the head revision of a particular line of development. So if the branch has been deleted but the data is still in the repository, recovering it is a simple matter of discovering the identifier for the head revision.

Finding the head revision

Revisions in a Bazaar repository have string identifiers. While the identifiers can be almost arbitrary strings (there are some restrictions on the characters they can contain), the ones Bazaar creates when you commit are of the form “$email-$date-$random“. So if we know the person who committed the head revision and the date it was committed, we can narrow down the possibilities.

For these sort of low level operations, it is easiest to use the Python bzrlib interface (this is the guts of Bazaar). Lets say that we want to recover a head revision committed by foo@example.com on 2006-12-01. We can get all the matching revision IDs like so:

>>> from bzrlib.repository import Repository
>>> repo = Repository.open('repository-directory')
>>> possible_ids = [x for x in repo.all_revision_ids()
...                 if x.startswith('foo@example.com-20061201')]

Now if you’re working on multiple branches in parallel, it is likely that the matching revisions come from different lines of development. To help work out which revision ID we want, we can look at the branch-nick revision property of each revision, which is recorded in each commit. If the nickname hadn’t been set explicitly for the branch we’re after, it will take the base directory name of the branch as a default. We can easily loop through each of the revisions and print a the nicknames:

>>> for rev_id in sorted(possible_ids):
...     rev = repo.get_revision(rev_id)
...     print rev_id
...     print rev.properties['branch-nick']

We can then take the last revision ID that has the nickname we are after. Since lexical sorting of these revision IDs will have sorted them in date order, it should be the last revision. We can check the log message on this revision to make sure:

>>> rev = repo.get_revision('head-revision-id')
>>> print rev.message

If it doesn’t look like the right revision, you can try some other dates (the dates in the revision identifiers are in UTC, so it might have recorded a different date to the one you remembered). If it is the right revision, we can proceed onto recovering the branch.

Recovering the branch

Once we know the revision identifier, recovering the branch is easy. First we create a new empty branch inside the repository:

$ cd repositorydir
$ bzr init branchdir

We can now use the pull command with a specific revision identifier to recover the branch:

$ cd branchdir
$ bzr pull -r revid:head-revision-id .

It may look a bit weird that we are pulling from a branch that contains no revisions into itself, but since the repository for this empty branch contains the given revision it does the right thing. And since bzr pull canonicalises the branch’s history, the new branch should have the same linear revision history as the original branch.

Recovering the branch from someone else’s repository

The above method assumes that you can create a branch in the repository. But what if the repository belongs to someone else, and you only have read-only access to the repository? You might want to do this if you are trying to recover one of the branches from Andrew’s Java GNOME repository :)

The easy way is to copy all the revisions from the read-only repository into one you control. First we’ll create a new repository:

$ bzr init-repo repodir

Then we can use the Repository.fetch() bzrlib routine to copy the revisions:

>>> from bzrlib.repository import Repository
>>> remote_repo = Repository.open('remote-repo-url')
>>> local_repo = Repository.open('repodir')
>>> local_repo.fetch(remote_repo)

When that command completes, you’ll have a local copy of all the revisions and can proceed as described above.

One Comment

  1. John Meinel
    Posted 19 December, 2006 at 1:27 pm | Permalink

    There is a ‘heads’ plugin that lets you do a lot of this: https://launchpad.net/products/heads

    Basically, it is just designed to show you what unmerged tips are in your repository.

    Also, an easier way to get someone else’s revision into your repository is to do:

    bzr init my-copy (this can be in a repo, but doesn’t have to be)

    cd my-copy
    bzr pull -r revid: http://their/branch

    “their/branch” needs to be in the repository. But I don’t think it actually needs to be in the history of the branch. It just needs to be searchable from there.