Wading through history

Recently — well, actually, by now it wasn’t recently at all — I received a review request for a patch to JSD. It fixed an intermittent crash when using Firebug on a page that went into an endless stack-eating loop. A couple of people had worked on reproducing it, and the exact conditions were a little flaky, so I first tried it out myself. Kaboom! Yay!

So I imported the patch just to verify that it fixed the problem. Before compiling with it, I updated my tree to the latest version. Why? I don’t know. Just because it’s what I usually do. It seemed like a good idea at the time.

Only it wasn’t. It was a really, really dumb idea. I was changing two variables while trying to test one of them, and I got what I deserved: it stopped crashing after the patch, but when digging in to verify that it really was behaving as intended, I discovered it still wasn’t crashing.

This was just before the All Hands, and although I poked at it every few days, I didn’t make any headway: the patch seemed good, but I really wanted to confirm that it fixed the crash. (There were reasons why I was a little skeptical, but it’s not really relevant here.)

Eventually, when I had some time to think about it properly, I realized the best thing to do would be to revert to the older version that crashed for me. But how to find it?

One way would be to binary search nightlies. But I happened to be on a poor network connection, and downloading nightlies was insanely slow.

Also, I thought I should be able to do better. I run with an mq extension (mq = Mercurial Queues) that commits my patch queue on any change. Get it at git://github.com/hotsphink/mqext.git (I really should switch to bitbucket, rather than pointlessly restricting my audience to people who are minimally comfortable with both git and hg.) So all I had to do was to go back to the point where I imported the patch from bugzilla.

Finding the right moment was easy: ‘hg log –mq’ showed me all the changes made to my patch queue, one of which was commented “IMPORT: bz://643360” (an autogenerated comment courtesy of mqext.)  That was changeset 026ac43e9114. Yay!

But that changeset is for my patch queue, not my source repo. Fortunately, mq stores ‘parent’ fields in patch files that give the source repo changeset id that a patch was applied on top of. I’ll skip a number of failed attempts to track through this, and just give my final recipe:

  1. (already described) hg log –mq to find the appropriate changeset in the patch queue repo.
  2. cd to .hg/patches and run hg cat -r changeset series. This is because you need to know the names of the patch files in order to look at them — or specifically, the name of the first patch file, because it’s the only one whose parent will still be in the source repo. All other patches’ parents will be the source repo with mq patches applied to them, and will have been stripped out of the repo due to intervening actions. Because hg (or rather, mq) is not interested in preserving history.
  3. hg cat -r firstpatchname and look for the “# Parent changeset” line.
  4. cd back to your source repo and fetch that revision however you want — update to it, or clone a repo with it, or whatever.

I’m guessing this little recipe isn’t going to be useful to very many people, but I wanted to write it out for myself. So phbbbtt!!!


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1 comment

  1. On a related note, something I’ve started doing lately is this: when I attach a patch to a bug in Bugzilla, I include the repo and revision against which the patch was generated, like this:

    patch 1 (against TM 62858:f85299200bd3)

    This is for my own benefit — if a while passes until I get back to that patch (because the review is slow, or because I’m busy with other things) I can revert to that exact revision and know that the patch will apply perfectly. I can then do “hg update” where conflicts are much easier to handle (thanks to the 3-way merge) than rejected patch fragments.