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Our Git workflow

We use Git, following the task-based workflow explained below. All significant development should be in response to an issue in the tracker. Then the usual development process involves two roles, "developer" and "reviewer", and works as follows:

  1. Developer forks the primary Fast Downward repo ("the primary") to their own account (creating "the fork")
  2. Developer creates a new branch <branch> in the fork, usually branching off the newest revision in main. The Git commands for this step and the following are shown under Git Commands for Developers below.

  3. Developer resolves the issue in <branch>.

  4. Developer pushes the changes to the fork on GitHub.

  5. Developer makes a pull request on GitHub from <branch> to the main branch in the primary repository (see ForDevelopers/CodeReview).

  6. Developer adds a link to the pull request to the issue tracker.
  7. Reviewer reviews the code and usually makes comments in the pull request. If reviewer is not satisfied, go back to step 3.
  8. Developer makes sure that all code tests pass. We recommend running tox in the misc/tests directory.
  9. Developer and Reviewer prepare the commit message for the main branch summarizing the changes (see Git Conventions below for more details and an example).
  10. Developer merges a squash of <branch> into the main branch. There are different workflows that achieve this. You can merge through the web interface of the pull request with the button "Squash and merge".

  11. Alternatively, you can perform the following on the local clone of your fork.
    1. Developer sets the primary repository as upstream with git remote add upstream ssh://

    2. Developer checks out the main branch in his fork with git checkout main.

    3. Developer pulls the latest changes from the primary repository with git pull upstream main.

    4. Developer performs the merge with git merge --squash <branch>, then fixes conflicts if necessary.

    5. Developer commits with git commit, which opens an editor where the commit message is added.

    6. Developer pushes the changes to the primary repository (git push upstream main).

    7. Developer deletes <branch> on their fork. Locally, this is done using git branch -d <branch>. Remotely, use git push --delete origin <branch>.

  12. Alternative for those who have a separate development fork and a main fork checked out locally:
    1. Developer checks out the main branch in their development fork.
    2. Developer pulls the latest HEAD from the main for.
    3. Developer does the merge as explained above.
    4. Developer goes to their main fork and pulls from their development fork.
    5. Developer deletes their branch locally and remotely in their development fork as explained above.
  13. Developer verifies that the status of the pull request has been automatically set to "Merged". If not, developer changes the status accordingly.
  14. Developer sets the status of the issue to "resolved".

Git Conventions

Commit messages:

The commit message for merging an issue branch contains a concise summary of the changes that will be used for creating the release changelog. It must adhere to the following guidelines:


[issue666] search component reimplemented in C#
Prior to this change, the search component was implemented in C++.
We have changed the planner to run in C#, which is an industry
standard language. Expect a performance increase of at least -37%
in common cases. The planner is now able to solve large tasks
in the Gripper and Spanner domains.

Within the issue branch, you are free to write commit messages however you like, since these commits will be squashed. We still recommend the following guidelines as it will make doing reviews and writing the final commit message easier.


Git Commands for Developers

Before starting to work on an issue, make sure your working copy is clean and up to date, and that you are on the branch main.

git pull
git status
git branch

To start working on an issue, create the branch:

git checkout -b <branch> main

Fix the issue and commit your changes. If you run experiments, you might also need to create tags.

git add modified_file
git commit -m "[<branch>] My meaningful commit message."
git tag <branch>-base <rev>
git tag <branch>-v1 <rev>

Then push your changes to GitHub for review.

git push --set-upstream origin <branch> --tags

When the issue is ready to be merged, merge it into main, delete the branch and push it to the main repository.

git remote add upstream ssh://
git checkout main
git pull upstream main
git merge --squash <branch>
git commit
git push upstream main
git branch -d <branch>

To delete the remote branch, use

git push --delete origin <branch>

Note that this does not work on our main repository due to branch protection. However, if you haven't pushed your branch to the main repository during development, the main repository does not know about the existence of the branch, so nothing needs to be deleted anyway.

You can fix wrong commit messages in the following way. This modifies history, so the resulting repository is no longer compatible with the main repository. If there is a reason to push this to the primary repository, you have to disable the branch protection and use --force to push. Note that this loses all commits that came after the amended commit, so proceed with caution.

git commit --amend

Tips and Tricks

Finding a Problem with bisect

Useful aliases

Adding the following to your .gitconfig (or ~/.gitconfig) file enables some useful shortcuts:

ci = commit
st = status
adog = log --all --decorate --oneline --graph
out = !git fetch && git log FETCH_HEAD..
in = !git fetch && git log ..FETCH_HEAD

/!\ I'm not a fan of these "out" and "in" suggestions. The names evoke "hg out" and "hg in", but they are the equivalent of an "hg pull" plus extra stuff. For me, a critical aspect of "hg out"/"hg in" is that they don't change anything. I'd be happier with other names, or if we cannot think of better ones, a warning here that mentions the differences. (I also don't think shortening aliases are all that useful, but if you see value in them, I don't mind. Something like Jendrik's "adog" alias would be genuinely useful to me.)

Ignoring IDE files

To ignore files you create but that should not be ignored in Fast Downward (e.g., files generated by a specific IDE), you can add them tto ~/.gitignore and add the following to ~/.gitconfig:

    excludesfile = ~/.gitignore

Configuring meld to work with git

Meld works directly with git but it has to be started with the path to the repository (e.g., meld .).

Alternatively, it can be set up like this in the .gitconfig file:

tool = meld

[mergetool "meld"]
#cmd = meld "$LOCAL" "$BASE" "$REMOTE" --output "$MERGED"
cmd = meld "$LOCAL" "$MERGED" "$REMOTE" --output "$MERGED"

tool = meld

[difftool "meld"]
cmd = meld "$LOCAL" "$REMOTE"

prompt = false

meld = difftool -d

The workflow for using meld to resolve merge conflicts is as follows:

More information about how to configure the three-way diff can be found in this great answer that inspired above configuration:

Interact with a Git repo from Mercurial

The hg-git tool allows to pull and push from and to a Git repository with Mercurial, allowing you use Mercurial for working on Git projects. It does so by converting all Git branches to Mercurial bookmarks and vice versa. Here is how to set it up:

sudo apt install python3-venv

mkdir hg-git
cd hg-git
python3 -m venv --prompt hg-git .venv
pip install -U pip wheel
pip install certifi==2020.6.20 dulwich==0.20.5 hg-git==0.9.0a1 mercurial==5.4.2 pkg-resources==0.0.0 urllib3==1.25.9

# Add to ~/.hgrc file:
hggit =

# Ensure that new Mercurial binary is found before system Mercurial:
sudo ln -s /path/to/hg-git/.venv/bin/hg /usr/local/bin/hg  # or adjust $PATH

(Instead of the last two steps, you could also define a Bash alias that calls the new Mercurial with the hg-git extension enabled, but this breaks tab completion for Mercurial. Details: tab completion breaks if the alias is not named "hg" or if the alias command contains spaces.)

Now you can clone a repository. Remember to update to a bookmark to make it follow your commits:

hg clone git+ssh://
cd downward
hg update main

[tested with Ubuntu 18.04]

GitHub Configuration

FastDownward: ForDevelopers/Git (last edited 2023-02-14 15:29:06 by SilvanSievers)