Xvc with Git Branches

When you're working with multiple branches in Git, you may ask Xvc to checkout a branch and commit to another branch. These operations are performed at the beginning, and at the end of Xvc operations. You can use --from-ref and --to-branch options to checkout a Git reference before an Xvc operation, and commit the results to a certain Git branch.

Checkout and commit operations sandwich Xvc operations.

graph LR
   checkout["git checkout $REF"] --> xvc
   xvc["xvc operation"] --> stash["git stash --staged"]
   stash --> branch["git checkout --branch $TO_BRANCH"]
   branch --> commit["git add .xvc && git commit"]

If --from-ref is not given, initial git checkout is not performed. Xvc operates in the current branch. This is the default behavior.

$ git init --initial-branch=main
$ xvc init
? 0

$ ls

$ xvc --to-branch data-file file track data.txt
Switched to a new branch 'data-file'

$ git branch
* data-file

$ git status -s

$ xvc file list data.txt
FC          19 2023-06-08 11:47:18 c85f3e81 c85f3e81 data.txt
Total #: 1 Workspace Size:          19 Cached Size:          19

If you return to main branch, you'll see the file is tracked by neither Git nor Xvc.

$ git checkout main
$ xvc file list data.txt
FX          19 2023-06-08 11:47:18          c85f3e81 data.txt
Total #: 1 Workspace Size:          19 Cached Size:           0

$ git status -s
?? data.txt

Now, we'll add a step to the default pipeline to get an uppercase version of the data. We want this to work only in data

$ xvc --from-ref data-file pipeline step new --step-name to-uppercase --command 'cat data.txt | tr a-z A-Z > uppercase.txt'
Switched to branch 'data-file'

$ xvc pipeline step dependency --step-name to-uppercase --file data.txt

$ xvc pipeline step output --step-name to-uppercase --output-file uppercase.txt

Note that xvc pipeline step dependency and xvc pipeline step output commands don't need --from-ref and --to-branch options, as they run in data-file branch already.

Now, we want to have this new version of data available only in uppercase branch.

$ xvc --from-ref data-file --to-branch uppercase pipeline run
Already on 'data-file'
[DONE] to-uppercase (cat data.txt | tr a-z A-Z > uppercase.txt)
Switched to a new branch 'uppercase'

$ git branch
* uppercase

You can use this for experimentation. Whenever you have a pipeline that you want to run and keep the results in another Git branch, you can use --to-branch for experimentation.

$ xvcpr --from-ref data-file --to-branch another-uppercase
$ git-branch
* another-uppercase

The pipeline always runs, because in data-file branch uppercase.txt is always missing. It's stored only in the resulting branch you give by --to-branch.