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Revision as of 15:57, 28 October 2013 by Marcus.hanwell (talk | contribs) (Added a short note about backporting to the release-5.10 branch)
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This page documents how to develop VTK through Git. See our table of contents for more information. If you would like to backport bug/compile fixes to the release-5.10 branch see these instructions.

Git is an extremely powerful version control tool that supports many different "workflows" for indivudal development and collaboration. Here we document procedures used by the VTK development community. In the interest of simplicity and brevity we do not provide an explanation of why we use this approach. Furthermore, this is not a Git tutorial. Please see our Git resource links for third-party documentation, such as the ProGit Book.


Before you begin, perform initial setup:

1. Register Gerrit access.

2. Follow the download instructions to create a local VTK clone:

$ git clone git://vtk.org/VTK.git

Connection refused?

3. Run the developer setup script to prepare your VTK work tree and create Git command aliases used below:

$ ./Utilities/SetupForDevelopment.sh

Pro Git: Setup


VTK development uses a branchy workflow based on topic branches. Our collaboration workflow consists of three main steps:

1. Local Development

2. Code Review

Gerrit Code Review

3. Integrate Changes


Update your local master branch:

$ git checkout master
$ git pull

git help checkout
git help pull

Create a Topic

All new work must be committed on topic branches. Name topics like you might name functions: concise but precise. A reader should have a general idea of the feature or fix to be developed given just the branch name.

To start a new topic branch:

$ git fetch origin

For new development, start the topic from origin/master:

$ git checkout -b my-topic origin/master

For release branch fixes, start the topic from origin/release, and by convention use a topic name starting in "release-":

$ git checkout -b my-topic origin/release

git help fetch
git help checkout
Pro Git: Basic Branching

Edit files and create commits (repeat as needed):

$ edit file1 file2 file3
(To add data follow these instructions.)
$ git add file1 file2 file3
$ git commit

git help add
git help commit
Pro Git: Recording Changes

(If your change modifies the "Utilities/KWSys/vtksys" directory please contribute directly to KWSys instead.)

Share a Topic

When a topic is ready for review and possible inclusion, share it by pushing to Gerrit. Be sure you have registered for Gerrit access.

Checkout the topic if it is not your current branch:

$ git checkout my-topic

git help checkout

Check what commits will be pushed to Gerrit for review:

$ git prepush

(log origin/master..)

Push commits in your topic branch for review by the community:

$ git gerrit-push
(If the topic adds data see this note.)

The output will include a link to the topic review page in VTK Gerrit.


Find your topic/change in the VTK Gerrit instance and add reviewers. Add at least one relevant member of the VTK-core Group who will have permission to approve the topic for submission.

The "Kitware Robot" automatically performs basic checks on the commits and adds a review that sets the "Verified" flag.


Revise a Topic

If a topic is approved during Gerrit review, skip to the next step. Otherwise, revise the topic and push it back to Gerrit for another review.

Checkout the topic if it is not your current branch:

$ git checkout my-topic

git help checkout

To revise the 3rd commit back on the topic:

$ git rebase -i HEAD~3

(Substitute the correct number of commits back, as low as 1.)

Follow Git's interactive instructions. Preserve the Change-Id: line at the bottom of each commit message.

git help rebase
Pro Git: Rebasing

Return to the previous step to share the revised topic.

Merge a Topic

After a topic has been reviewed and approved in Gerrit, merge it into the upstream repository.

Visit the VTK Gerrit review page for your topic. Members of the VTK-core Group may use the "Submit Change Set" button to merge the topic, as pictured on the right. Non-members will not see the button but if the topic has been approved then at least one reviewer is a member of VTK-core and may be asked to perform the submission.


If the submission is rejected by a merge conflict, fetch the latest upstream history and rebase on it:

$ git fetch origin
$ git rebase origin/master
(If you are fixing a bug in the latest release then substitute origin/release for origin/master.)

git help fetch
git help rebase
Pro Git: Rebasing

Preserve the Change-Id: line at the bottom of each commit message.

Return to the above step to share the revised topic.

Delete a Topic

After a topic has been merged upstream, delete your local branch for the topic.

Checkout and update the master branch:

$ git checkout master
$ git pull

git help checkout
git help pull

Delete the local topic branch:

$ git branch -d my-topic

git help branch

The branch -d command works only when the topic branch has been correctly merged. Use -D instead of -d to force the deletion of an unmerged topic branch (warning - you could lose commits).