jenkins – Git – What is Refspec

jenkins – Git – What is Refspec

A refspec tells git how to map references from a remote to the local repo.

The value you listed was +refs/heads/*:refs/remotes/origin/* +refs/merge-requests/*/head:refs/remotes/origin/merge-requests/*; so lets break that down.

You have two patterns with a space between them; this just means youre giving multiple rules. (The pro git book refers to this as two refspecs; which is probably technically more correct. However, you just about always have the ability to list multiple refspecs if you need to, so in day to day life it likely makes little difference.)

The first pattern, then, is +refs/heads/*:refs/remotes/origin/* which has three parts:

  1. The + means to apply the rule without failure even if doing so would move a target ref in a non-fast-forward manner. Ill come back to that.
  2. The part before the : (but after the + if there is one) is the source pattern. Thats refs/heads/*, meaning this rule applies to any remote reference under refs/heads (meaning, branches).
  3. The part after the : is the destination pattern. Thats refs/remotes/origin/*.

So if the origin has a branch master, represented as refs/heads/master, this will create a remote branch reference origin/master represented as refs/remotes/origin/master. And so on for any branch name (*).

So back to that +… suppose the origin has

A --- B <--(master)

You fetch and, applying that refspec you get

A --- B <--(origin/master)

(If you applied typical tracking rules and did a pull you also have master pointed at B.)

A --- B <--(origin/master)(master)

Now some things happen on the remote. Someone maybe did a reset that erased B, then committed C, then forced a push. So the remote says

A --- C <--(master)

When you fetch, you get

A --- B
 
  C

and git must decide whether to allow the move of origin/master from B to C. By default it wouldnt allow this because its not a fast-forward (it would tell you it rejected the pull for that ref), but because the rule starts with + it will accept it.

A --- B <--(master)
 
  C <--(origin/master)

(A pull will in this case result in a merge commit.)

The second pattern is similar, but for merge-requests refs (which I assume is related to your servers implementation of PRs; Im not familiar with it).

More about refspecs: https://git-scm.com/book/en/v2/Git-Internals-The-Refspec

A refspec tells git how to map references from a remote to the local repo.

With Git 2.29 (Q4 2020), a refspec can also tell Git what reference to exclude.
git fetch and git push support negative refspecs.

So not only can you fetch selectively:

# Do not fetch any remote branch starting with m
git fetch origin refs/heads/*:refs/remotes/origin/* ^refs/heads/m*

But you can even push or push --prune selectively:

# If I delete local branches, included b, 
# those same branches will be deleted in the remote origin repo.
# ... except for the remote branch b!
git push --prune origin refs/heads/* ^refs/heads/b

See commit c0192df (30 Sep 2020) by Jacob Keller (jacob-keller).
(Merged by Junio C Hamano — gitster in commit 8e3ec76, 5 Oct 2020)

refspec: add support for negative refspecs

Signed-off-by: Jacob Keller

Both fetch and push support pattern refspecs which allow fetching or pushing references that match a specific pattern.
Because these patterns are globs, they have somewhat limited ability to express more complex situations.

For example, suppose you wish to fetch all branches from a remote except for a specific one. To allow this, you must setup a set of refspecs which match only the branches you want.
Because refspecs are either explicit name matches, or simple globs, many patterns cannot be expressed.

Add support for a new type of refspec, referred to as negative refspecs.

These are prefixed with a ^ and mean exclude any ref matching this refspec.
They can only have one side which always refers to the source.

  • During a fetch, this refers to the name of the ref on the remote.
  • During a push, this refers to the name of the ref on the local side.

With negative refspecs, users can express more complex patterns. For
example:

git fetch origin refs/heads/*:refs/remotes/origin/* ^refs/heads/dontwant

will fetch all branches on origin into remotes/origin, but will exclude
fetching the branch named dontwant.

Refspecs today are commutative, meaning that order doesnt expressly matter.
Rather than forcing an implied order, negative refspecs will always be applied last.
That is, in order to match, a ref must match at least one positive refspec, and match none of the negative refspecs.
This is similar to how negative pathspecs work.


The documentation now includes:

A <refspec> may contain a * in its <src> to indicate a simple pattern
match.
Such a refspec functions like a glob that matches any ref with the same prefix. A pattern <refspec> must have a * in both the <src> and
<dst>. It will map refs to the destination by replacing the * with the
contents matched from the source.

If a refspec is prefixed by ^, it will be interpreted as a negative
refspec
.
Rather than specifying which refs to fetch or which local refs to update, such a refspec will instead specify refs to exclude.
A ref will be considered to match if it matches at least one positive refspec, and does not match any negative refspec.

Negative refspecs can be useful to restrict the scope of a pattern refspec so that it will not include specific refs.
Negative refspecs can themselves be pattern refspecs. However, they may only
contain a <src> and do not specify a <dst>.
Fully spelled out hex object
names are also not supported.

See t5582-fetch-negative-refspec.sh for more examples

jenkins – Git – What is Refspec

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