Using plan branches

Plan branches are used to represent a branch in your version control repository, with the plan branch using the same build configuration as your plan.

Tools such as Git and Mercurial encourage a practice called feature branching, where a developer can use a new branch to work in isolation from his or her team members before merging their changes back into main line development.

With plan branches in Bamboo:

  • Any new branch created in the repository can be automatically built and tested using the same build configuration as that of the parent plan. 
  • Any branches deleted from the repository can be deleted automatically from Bamboo according to the settings.
  • You have the flexibility to individually configure branch plans, by overriding the parent plan, if required.
  • Optionally, changes from the feature branch can be automatically merged back to the "master" (e.g. trunk, default or mainline branch) when the build succeeds.

You can customize how Bamboo manages branches on the system, plan, and branch levels. 

Further reading:

Branch management

You can create plan branches manually or automatically. The branch configuration can be provided on the plan level and customized on the branch level. The settings provided in the branch configuration override the settings provided for the plan.

You can access the list of all branches in a plan from different places. For example, you can click the Branch iconnext to the plan name in the Build Dashboard  view:

You can also access the branch list from the Plan summary view:

Subversion branches location

This section is displayed only for plans that use a Subversion source repository. Bamboo assumes that your Subversion repository structure follows the convention for branches, and automatically calculates the branch root URL.

For example, for the fastBuild repo with this URL: https://svn.mycompany.com/svn/fastBuild/trunk Bamboo will expect that branches will be created at this location: https://svn.mycompany.com/svn/fastBuild/branches 

If your Subversion repository structure follows a different convention, you can specify where repository branches will be created by selecting Change subversion branches URL.

Automatic branch management

Plan branches can be created and deleted automatically based on the updates in the primary source repository. Automatic branch management is available for Git, Mercurial, and Subversion. For other repository types, you can use manual branching. You can override the default settings for a branch, such as values of the variables.

By default, automatic branch management is:

  • disabled for branches that you create manually
  • enabled for branches that are created automatically

You can specify how often Bamboo checks the primary source repository for new or deleted branches in the general branch settings.

You can override the branch deletion settings in the branch details configuration view.

To hand over the branch management to Bamboo:

  1. Go to the Plan Configuration view: in the Plan summary view, click the  Actions  button   and select Configure plan
  2. Click the Branches tab.
  3. In the  Automatic branch management  section, configure the following:

    Primary source repository branches Action Description Comments

    New branches  

    Do not create plan branches (default)

    Bamboo does not create new plan branches automatically when new branches are detected in the primary source repository. Independently from the automatic branch management settings, you can always create branches manually.

    Create plan branches for all new branches

    Bamboo creates a plan branch for each new branch detected in the primary source repository.

    Create plan branches for matching new branches

    Bamboo creates a plan branch for each new branch detected in the primary source repository that matches the regular expression that you provided.
    Deleted branches Do not delete plan branches (default) If a branch in the primary source repository was deleted, Bamboo does not automatically delete the corresponding plan branch. If you selected Clean up plan branch automatically in the configuration on the branch level, the branch is disabled and deleted according to the daily cleanup rules, regardless of the automatic branch management settings. Clean up plan branch automatically is selected by default for manually created "Plan Branches".
    Delete branches after a period of time If a branch in the primary source repository was deleted, Bamboo deletes the corresponding plan branch. The value must be higher than 0 and is specified in days. Plan branches are deleted at most once a day.
    Delete branches with a daily cleanup

    If a branch in the primary source repository was deleted, the corresponding plan branch is removed with a daily cleanup that happens daily at 3 AM (server time). 

    Inactive branches Do not delete inactive plan branches (default)

    If a branch in the primary source repository is inactive, Bamboo does not automatically delete the corresponding plan branch.

    Delete plan branches after a period of inactivity If a branch in the primary source repository is inactive, Bamboo deletes the corresponding plan branch if no commits are detected for the specified period. The value must be higher than 1 and is specified in days. 
  4. Click Save at the bottom of the view to apply the changes.

Global settings - branch detection interval

Once plan branching is enabled, Bamboo checks for new or deleted branches in the primary source code repository.

You can specify how often Bamboo checks for new branches in the primary source repository in the system settings. The default value is 300 seconds.

To configure the branch detection interval:

  1. Open the Bamboo Administration view by clicking the cog icon  and selecting a section from the list that opens.
  2. In the Bamboo Administration view, scroll down the menu on the left to find the System section.
  3. Click General configuration.
  4. In Global system configurations, set the branch detection interval. Provide the value in seconds, the default value is 300.

Manual branch management

Use manual branching for all supported repository types. You may want to consider using automatic branch management for Git, Mercurial and Subversion repositories.

To manually create a branch of a plan:

  1. Go to the Plan Configuration view: in the Plan summary view, click the Actions button  and select Configure plan
  2. Click the Branches tab.
  3. Click Create plan branch in the upper right of the view.
  4. In the Create plan branch view, you can create branches in one of the following ways:

    Action Description
    Select from available VCS branches

    Select one or more branches from the list of available VCS branches.

    At the bottom of the list of the branches you can select the Enable branches check box, which makes all selected branches available for building and change detection.

    Create plan branch manually

    Provide:

    • a display name (required) - overrides the VCS branch name
    • a branch description - a meaningful description of the branch
    • VCS branch name - the name of the branch in the VCS repository

    You can select the Enable branches check box, which makes the new branch available for building and change detection.

    Click Auto-detect VCS branches to go back to the list of available VCS branches.

  5. Click Save.

Integrating branches with JIRA applications

Check Create Remote Links from JIRA Issues to have the plan branch automatically linked, using an issue key in the branch name. 

When a developer begins working on a feature described in a JIRA application issue, they use Git or Mercurial to branch the repository. If they use the issue key as part of the VCS branch name, Bamboo will detect the issue key and automatically link the new branch to the issue:

  • The JIRA application issue key needs to be in the name of the branch – 'jb-BDEV-790' and ' BDEV-769 1 ' are valid forms.
  • The link shows up right under the breadcrumb on the Build Result Summary for the plan branch, and on the issue too.

To use JIRA applications Feature Branching, Bamboo needs an application link to the JIRA application server.

Branch notifications

You can get build notifications from branch plans just as you do for master plans.

To specify how notifications are sent by all branches created from a plan, go to the Branches tab for the plan's configuration and choose one of the following options:

  • Notify committers and people who have favorited this branch.
  • Use the plan's notification settings.
  • Notifications should not be sent for this branch.

You can override how notifications are sent from a particular branch plan, if necessary, by going to the Notifications tab on the Plan Branch configuration.

See Configuring notifications for a plan and its jobs for information about plan notifications.

Branch dependencies

You can use build dependencies for plan branches in a similar way to that for plans: a branch plan is triggered only when another branch plan has been successfully built. This can be used to ensure that breaking source code changes associated with one branch plan are detected before they can break the build of a dependent branch plan. Dependencies between master plans are maintained if their branch plans have the same name. See Setting up plan build dependenciesfor further information about dependencies.

Select Trigger Dependencies for Branches, on the Dependencies tab for the plan configuration, if you want plan branches to honor the build dependencies of their respective master plans.

Branch details configuration

Whether a plan branch is created automatically or manually, the master plan maintains the structure and configuration of it's branch plans. However, you can go to the configuration pages to override the following settings in a branch plan:

Branch clean-up

On the Branch Details tab of the branch's configuration, you can specify that a plan branch is not cleaned up automatically.

(info) Please note that 'Automatic Branch Clean-up' is supported for Mercurial, Git (Bamboo 4.1.1 and above) and Subversion (Bamboo 4.2.0 and above).

By default, plan branches are deleted automatically after:

  • 7 days after the branch was deleted in the primary source repository OR
  • 10 days of branch inactivity in the primary source repository 

The values can be specified on the plan level.

Trigger type

On the Branch Details tab of the branch's configuration. See Triggering builds.

Note that you can only configure one trigger for a plan branch, and that this overrides all triggers that may be configured for the master plan.

Merging
On the Branch Details tab of the branch's configuration. Described below.
Source repository On the Source Repository tab of the branch's configuration. See Specifying the source repository.
Notifications

On the Notifications tab of the branch's configuration. The options are:

  • Notify committers and people who have favorited this branch.
  • Use the plan's notification settings.
  • Notifications should not be sent for this branch.

See Configuring notifications for a plan and its jobs for information about plan notifications.

Variables On the Variables tab of the branch's configuration. See Defining plan variables.

Automatic branch merging

Bamboo provides 2 merging models if you choose to automate your branch merging:

  • Branch Updater — a branch repo is kept up-to-date with changes to master.
  • Gatekeeper — the default repo is only updated with changes in the branch that have built successfully.

The automatic branch merge strategy for the master plan can be overridden in an individual plan branch, if required. Automatic branch merging is not available for Subversion.

Branch updater

When to use

The Branch Updater should be used when you want to:

  • Automatically merge changes from the team's master branch into your feature branch, after a successful build of the master branch.
  • Get notified when the changes on your feature branch are no longer compatible with the team's master branch.

Configuring

To have recent changes in another repo merged into your branch repo:

  1. Go to the Branch Details tab of the branch plan's configuration pages. 
    (Click on the branch icon beside a plan name on the All Plans tab, then choose Actions > Configure Branch.)
  2. Under 'Merging' select Branch Merging Enabled, and then click Branch Updater.
  3. Use the Merge From list to choose the repo from which changes should be merged with your feature branch.
  4. Select Push on only if you want those changes merged back into your branch once the build completes successfully,
  5. Click Save.

Gatekeeper

When to use

The Gatekeeper should be used when you want to:

  • Automatically merge your feature branch back into the team's master branch, after a successful build of the merged changes from both branches.
  • Get notified when a build of combined changes from both branches fails, preventing the feature branch from being merged back into the team's master branch.

Configuring

To have your successfully built changes pushed to another repo:

  1. Go to the Branch Details tab of the branch plan's configuration pages. 
    (Click on the branch icon beside a plan name on the All Plans tab, then choose Actions > Configure Branch.)
  2. Under 'Merging' select Branch Merging Enabled, and then click Gate Keeper.
  3. Use the Checkout list to choose the repo with which to merge your changes (and to which changes should be pushed).
  4. Select Push on only if you want your changes pushed to the other repo once the build completes successfully,
  5. Click Save.

Limitations with plan branches

The following limitations apply to using automated plan branching and merging:

Action Limitations
Auto plan branching
  • Can only be used with Git, Mercurial and Subversion repositories. For other repository types, use manual branching.
  • Cannot be used with the Git implementation embedded in Bamboo. (You need to have set up native Git.)

Manual plan branching

  • Can be used for all repository types supported by Bamboo.
Auto branch merging
  • Can only be used with Git and Mercurial repositories.
  • Can only be used with branches that were configured in Bamboo.
  • Cannot be used with the Git implementation embedded in Bamboo. (You need to have set up native Git.)

Branches wallboard

The branches wallboard displays the status of all the branches and the plan that the branches belong to. The plan's own status always appears first. Plans shown as grey are disabled.

To display the branches wallboard:

  1. Go to the Plan Summary for the plan that has branches you want to display.
  2. Choose Actions > Branch Wallboard.

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