In my previous article, I outlined Bazaar‘s bundle feature. This article describes how the Bazaar developers use bundles as part of their development and code review process.
Proposed changes to Bazaar are generally posted as patches or bundles to the development mailing list. Each change is discussed on the mailing list (often going through a number of iterations), and ultimately approved or rejected by the core developers. To aide in managing these patches Aaron Bentley (one of the developers wrote a tool called Bundle Buggy.
Bundle Buggy watches messages sent to the mailing list, checking for messages containing patches or bundles. It then creates an entry on the web site displaying the patch, and lets developers add comments (which get forwarded to the mailing list).
Now while Bundle Buggy can track plain patches, a number of its time saving features only work for bundles:
- Automatic rejection of superseded patches: when working on a feature, it is common to go through a number of iterations. When going through the list of pending changes, the developers don’t want to see all the old versions. Since a bundle describes a Bazaar branch, and it is trivial to check if one branch is an extension of another though, Bundle Buggy can tell which bundles are obsolete and remove them from the list.
- Automatically mark merged bundles as such: the canonical way to know that a patch has been accepted is for it to be merged to mainline. Each Bazaar revision has a globally unique identifier, so we can easily check to see if the head revision of the bundle is in the ancestry of mainline. When this happens, Bundle Buggy automatically marks them as merged.
Using these techniques the list of pending bundles is kept under control.
Of course, these aren’t the only things that can be done to save time in the review process. Another useful idea is to automatically try and merge pending bundles or branches to see if they can still be merged without conflicts. This can be used as a way to put the ball back in the contributors court, obligating them to fix the problem before the branch can be reviewed.
This sort of automation is not only limited to projects using a mailing list for code review. The same techniques could be applied to a robot that scanned bug reports in the bug tracker (e.g. Bugzilla) for bundles, and updated their status accordingly.
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