Branch point/branch point tags

John Baldwin jhb at
Fri Feb 5 18:50:16 UTC 2021

On 2/5/21 10:16 AM, Glen Barber wrote:
> On Fri, Feb 05, 2021 at 12:02:52PM -0600, Kyle Evans wrote:
>> Hello!
>> For some context: I received an e-mail from the commit about
>> releng/13.0 being branched ("git: 638e531019fd - releng/13.0 - Branch
>> releng/13.0"), but it's unfortunately impossible to tell based on
>> e-mail context which commit it branched off on. Notably, commit races
>> happen and re@ isn't obligated to pick 'the latest at that exact time'
>> as far as I'm aware -- presumably they have carte blanche to pick
>> whichever commit they feel is a good choice.
>> We didn't really have this issue with svn because there was a single
>> commit that announced both implicitly in the addition summary as well
>> as explicitly which commit was chosen as the branch point (referencing
>> "svn commit: r339434 - stable/12").
>> We can of course discover what we care about in the git world by
>> clicking on the link to go to cgit and exploring the parent, but this
>> is decidedly not always convenient.
>> I had thought of one solution, but it's not great; adding the parent
>> commit hash to the mail when a new ref is pushed. That imposes some
>> weird limitations that remove some of the benefit of git, e.g., re@
>> would have to push the branch in the first commit then push any
>> follow-up unless we can slap it on 'the first commit in a push that
>> created a new ref'. This is kind of silly when they can just prepare
>> everything that needs to be done and push it with confidence in a
>> single step.
>> jhb@ pointed out on IRC another possible solution, and I'm wondering
>> what the git wg and re@ think... apparently, in the dark ages that far
>> predate me (CVS), we had something like a BP ("Branch Point") tag that
>> served the same purpose.
>> - Is this desirable information for anyone else to have?
>> - Would it screw up anything we actively try to do?
>> I imagine, for example, that re would just create an annotated
>> RELENG_13_0_BP tag and push that, which would serve as the
>> announcement that this is the commit for reference and perhaps also be
>> good bisect targets. While `git merge-base` works well for simply
>> matters, if you want to bisect from RELENG_13_0_BP to RELENG_13_1_BP
>> it's definitely quicker to conjure up the well-defined tag name than
>> `git bisect $(git merge-base releng/13.1 stable/13) $(git merge-base
>> releng/13.0 stable/13)`
> I do not have any comments on the solutions here, but I will make sure
> it is brought up during the next working group call.  Admittedly,
> I probably should have explicitly stated releng/13.0 was branched from
> stable/13, but I suppose part of me just figured it would be obvious
> from a workflow perspective.  But given I am personally so familiar with
> the workflow in this case, it was a bad assumption on my part, either
> intentional or otherwise.
> That said, I will be more thoughtful of this in the future, regardless
> of what solution(s) (if any) are implemented.  Thank you for pointing
> this out.

I don't know that we want all-caps tag names in a git world, btw.  That
was just something we did in CVS (and I do think we had tags like
RELENG_2_2_BP and RELENG_3_BP).  Part of the reason was that there were
no changesets in CVS, so you really had to have a tag for sanity.

I do think tags might be nice, e.g. if we had a stable-13-bp tag (or
stable-13), then 'git describe --exclude "vendor/*"' on main would
show the number of commits since 13 was branched which is more useful
than what it shows now.  Similarly, on stable/13 'git describe' would
now be showing the number of commits since 13.0 was branched by
default.  I also think there's some merit to Kyle's argument that we
can tell users 'git bisect releng-13.0-bp release/13.1' to bisect
between releases.  I'm sure there's some bikeshedding that can be
had about tag names (- vs _, 'stable-13-bp' vs 'stable/13-bp' vs

In terms of sheer number of tags, I don't think this would add a ton
of them (1 additional tag per stable and releng branch), and I would
suggest we only start this for 13.x and not do it on older branches.
We can always add this retroactively for older branches in the future
if we found we really wanted/needed it.

John Baldwin

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