ChangeLog: November 7, 2019 — Multi-Repo Diffs, Admin UI, and RBCommons

This week in ChangeLog, let’s talk about three projects we’ve been working on this week:

  • Multi-repository diffs
  • The latest administration UI improvements
  • Billing improvements and user roles in RBCommons

Multi-Repository Diffs

It’s pretty common to work with a lot of repositories at the same time, linking them together using Git submodules, SVN externals, or some other method. Sometimes you need to make changes across many repositories at once, and it’d be helpful to post those changes as one review request.

The problem is that diffs made across repositories aren’t always so useful. Not only do they generally lack repository information for each file, but Review Board itself assumes a single repository per review request. This matters because in order to show the diff viewer, Review Board needs to load each source file from the repository before it can apply the diff.

We’re trying to work toward multi-repository diff support as part of Review Board 4.0. Our existing DVCS work got us part-way there. The remaining pieces are/were:

  1. Updating our diff parsers to allow additional information (such as repository details) to be extracted and stored
  2. Updated our FileDiff model (representing a parsed file from a diff) to link to a Repository, and updating code to use that instead of ReviewRequest.repository
  3. Getting this information into diffs

Step 1 is done as of this week, and step 2 is mostly done. Step 3 is where things get interesting.

We talked last week about DiffX, our initiative to make diffs better. We’re hoping to start using DiffX from within RBTools and to inject repository information into the diff.

This is a longer-term goal, though. We’re exploring some options shorter-term, and talking to one vendor about natively providing this information in diffs they generate.

So will this be usable in Review Board 4.0? Kind of. We should have the core functionality all done, but not much may take advantage of this at first. Long-term, we’ll introduce multi-repository diff support for more types of repositories, and it’ll be amazing.

Administration UI Updates

Another week, another batch of screenshots to share of the new administration UI. We’ve completed the main database page and the Change List page, which lists all changes made to the database for a specific type of model (table).

These build upon new CSS components coming to 4.0, which offer slide-out action drawers and filters for datagrids, inline warning/error/info alerts, and more goodies that extension authors can use for their own projects.

Next up are the Settings and Change Form pages, which allow for making changes to models in the database.

Once these are done, we get to upgrade Django!

RBCommons Roles and Billing Updates

RBCommons, our Review Board SaaS, has received a lot of our attention lately. Particularly in the areas of billing, team administration, and sign-up.

Much of this work is based on customer feedback. As RBCommons has grown, our user base has moved from primarily Silicon Valley startups to an international community of companies, organizations, and educational institutions of all sizes. And some of those need a bit more from us when it comes to how they manage their teams and handle billing-related matters.

As part of our plans, we’re working on:

  • Splitting the existing Team Administrator role into three new roles:
    1. Team Owner (capable of making all changes to an account, including cancelling and changing plans)
    2. Team Administrator (capable of managing users, repositories, review groups, etc., but cannot manage anything billing-related)
    3. Billing Contact (can view invoices, change payment information, and receive billing-related e-mails, but nothing else)
  • Improving our invoices, showing more useful information to help users better meet any company-internal, regulatory, or tax requirements they might have
  • Adapting our billing process to work better with credit card billing changes that are or will be going into effect in some countries, to ensure these customers’ payments go through without any headaches
  • Improving the sign-up flow, to help get teams up-and-running a bit faster

We’ll talk about all this in more detail later when we launch our next big update to RBCommons.

Next Week

We’ll have more Administration UI work to show off, and with it a new collection of CSS Components to talk about. We’ll also go over what our CANOSP students from the University of Alberta have been up to.

If you have any questions, or anything you’re curious about and want us to cover, please reach out on our community forum.

We’re also on reddit /r/reviewboard, Twitter, and Facebook, if you want other ways to keep up with the latest.

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RBTools 1.0.1 is out now

Today’s release of RBTools fixes some of the most common issues experienced in the recent 1.0 release:

Improved Windows compatibility

This release fixes some regressions on Windows, namely a crash when prompting for a password for Review Board.

If you’re continuing to hit problems on Windows, please let us know in our community support tracker so we can collect additional information on your setup.

Fixes for Empty Diff errors on Git

While RBTools 1.0 greatly improved how diffs were generated for Git repositories under many scenarios, it broke one important workflow.

Posting a branch for review after pushing that branch upstream no longer results in errors about empty diffs when a tracking branch is configured. Instead, the tracking branch is once again respected, allowing your topic branch to be posted for review in full.

See the release notes for the full list of changes.

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RBTools 1.0 is here!

RBTools has been an important part of the life of Review Board users for many years. While it started off as a single tool for posting review requests, its feature set has evolved with time, turning into an extensible set of tools and APIs for talking to Review Board.

Today, we’re finally pulling RBTools out of the 0.x era with the release of RBTools 1.0.

Compatible with Python 3

Both the RBTools commands and the Python API now support Python 2.7 and 3.5+.

(Please let us know if you hit any issues on Python 3, as this is still pretty new.)

Better Repository Detection and Git Support

RBTools now does a better job determining which repository it’s working with, in case there’s confusion. For example, a Mercurial repository nested in a Git-managed home directory will no longer cause problems.

Git repositories in particular are now easier to work with. When generating a diff, RBTools now looks for the nearest upstream parent commit or branch, instead of requiring that users or repositories configure a specific tracking branch.

Publish Automated Reviews

Writing your own automated review solutions for Review Board 3.0 or RBCommons just became easier through the new rbt status-update command. Your scripts can use it to file a pending status update on a review request (showing that checks are being performed) and then update it to say that all is well or to report issues that need to be fixed.

This is useful for in-house continuous integration setups where you’re analyzing code for errors, style issues, documentation, or any other requirements you might have.

Easily Land Complex Dependent Changes

rbt land can now land multiple review requests tied together using the Depends On field.

This works with -r to take the ID of the review request you want to land. It will figure out which review requests must land before it and in which order. For example, if review request 3 depends on 2, which depends on 1, you can run:

$ rbt land --recursive -r 3

Instead of:

$ rbt land -r 1
$ rbt land -r 2
$ rbt land -r 3

This is a precursor to the new DVCS support coming soon in Review Board 4.0.

And That’s Not All

  • rbt setup-completion was added to enable auto-completion of RBTools commands and arguments in Bash and ZSH shells.

  • rbt alias was added to help you list and test out your custom aliases.

  • rbt post –submit-as can now automate posting review request updates, and not just new review requests, on a user’s behalf.

  • rbt post -m and rbt publish -m let you specify a custom description of your draft’s changes when publishing (equivalent to filling out the “Describe your changes” box when publishing in the browser).

  • rbt post –trivial-publish and rbt publish –trivial let you publish trivial updates to a review request without sending out e-mails to everyone (when using Review Board 3.0 or RBCommons).

  • rbt status now lists the review state and local branch for each review request you have up for review.

  • Warnings and errors in command output is now specially highlighted to help it stand out.

  • Several fixes and improvements for Git and Subversion compatibility.

  • The API has been improved, supporting extra_data fields and easier pagination of resources.

And plenty of other fixes and improvements. See the release notes for the full list of changes in 1.0.

Download It Today!

RBTools is out today for Windows, Linux, and Mac. Head on over to the downloads page for installation instructions.

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ChangeLog: Catching Up

It’s been too long since we last ran the ChangeLog series, and felt it was the right time to start it back up again. ChangeLog is a look into the latest behind-the-scenes work going into Review Board, RBCommons, and other Beanbag projects. While intended to be a weekly series, we’d like to start off with some of the bigger tasks and feature development from the past month.

Moving to Django 1.11 and Python 3

Today, all current versions of Review Board depend on Django 1.6, an old release that’s no longer supported by the Django project but is by us, and doesn’t support modern Python 3 releases.

We’ve been stuck on 1.6 because 1.7 introduced (and later mandated) a new way of handling database migrations, which is incompatible with the method we’ve always used. Reconciling the differences has been a challenge.

In the past month, we’ve made significant progress toward both the Django and Python updates:

  • Djblets 2.0 (our development release) is now compatible with Django 1.6 through 1.11 and Python 2.7, 3.4, 3.5, and 3.6.
  • Django Evolution (used for database migrations) now works with Django 1.6 through 1.11 and Python 2.7, 3.4, 3.5, and 3.6. Work’s being done to let it co-exist with Django migrations now.
  • Review Board has started receiving patches for Django 1.11 and Python 3.5+ now. This is still in development, and likely won’t make the Review Board 4.0 release, but will be there for 5.0.
  • RBTools 1.0 (shipping in a few months) now has full Python 3 support.

New Release Schedules


We’ve began moving to a train model for releases, and have all of our main and upcoming products now on the calendar.

Here’s what this currently looks like:


  • Review Board 4.0 (with DVCS support!) is expected to ship in August, 2018
  • Review Board 3.0.x releases will ship (generally) every other Tuesday
  • RBTools 1.0 is expected to ship April 12th
  • RB-Gateway is expected to ship March 28th

We’re planning to release a new major Review Board release every ~6 months, meaning smaller but more frequent releases. We’re still experimenting with the schedule and timeframe for these releases.

RB-Gateway

We’ve releasing RB-Gateway 1.0 this month. This is a microservice designed to sit in front of a Git or Mercurial repository, providing an API and set of integrations that can be used by Review Board or any other tool or service for more deeply working with your repository.

RB-Gateway doesn’t change your workflow, and can be dropped in with minimal effort. It completely replaces the cgit/gitweb workaround for standalone Git repositories, and means you don’t need to set up something more complicated like GitLab just to work with Review Board.

You’ll see more information on RB-Gateway’s capabilities when we release later this month, and we’ll cover improvements being made to it here.

Wrapping Up…

Those are really just the major highlights, to get everyone up to speed. It doesn’t include the new features we’ve recently built, like being able to filter files in the diff viewer based on filename patterns, a new command for creating Review Board extension source trees, the work done on kgb, or the crazy investigation into deadlocks that’s delayed Review Board 3.0.4.

Going forward, these will be smaller, covering only what’s been done over the past week. If you like these posts, and want to see this continue, please let us know! You can find us on reddit or on the community support list.

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RBTools 0.7.10 is now out

Today’s release of RBTools 0.7.10 some important compatibility fixes for macOS, Git, Subversion, Team Foundation Server, ClearCase.

macOS and Browser Windows

macOS users who have upgraded to recent releases of Sierra lost the ability to run rbt post --open (to open the posted review request in a browser window) due to a Python/AppleScript bug. This is Python bug #30392, for those who are interested.

We’ve worked around this. Your default browser will work once again. Thanks to those who pointed this out!

There’s also a whole new macOS installer coming that should actually work on all setups. We’ll have this on the Downloads page once it gets a little more testing.

Git and Git-SVN

Git-SVN users should no longer encounter crashes when trying to post changes for review. That was pretty disruptive.

Git repositories with submodules containing pending changes no longer cause warnings about dirty repositories when posting changes. They’re not included anyway, and just added to the confusion.

Crazy Subversion Diffs

If you had a line of code being deleted that happened to look like a diff header (say, --- XX (YY)), it could cause some code we have for fixing up diffs to get very confused. That, unfortunately, could lead to lines being excluded from the diff, breaking when you try viewing it in the diff viewer.

We’ve rewritten this code to be very careful about these lines. It won’t get confused again.

Team Foundation Server and Visual Studio 2017

Team Foundation Server users who have upgraded to Visual Studio 2017 can once again post changes. TFS has had a nasty habit of changing their file formats, APIs, and command line options, but after much tearing out of the hair, we’ve restored compatibility.

All versions from Visual Studio 2011 onward should work just fine, so no need to upgrade to 2017 just to use this release.

We’ve also fixed a regression when using the Team Explorer Everywhere adapter.

ClearCase and Cross-Platform VOB Lookups

ClearCase users can now name their repositories in Review Board based on a component of a VOB path, instead of naming it based on the entire VOB path. This helps with the differences in how ClearCase represents VOB paths on different platforms. For instance, a VOB path of /vobs/MyVOB or C:\vobs\MyVOB will now match a repository name of MyVOB.

There are also some performance improvements for looking up VOBs.

And Other Such Things

There are improvements to the Python API, such as not prematurely exiting the process, plus compatibility fixes for Review Board 3.0. We’ve also added a new config option to disable certain warnings in RBTools, which would be especially useful for repository hook scripts.

For the complete list of changes, see the release notes.

To upgrade RBTools, visit the downloads page.

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RBTools 0.7.7 is released!

We’ve just put out an all-new release of RBTools. Version 0.7.7 features compatibility fixes for various types of repositories, better support for TFS, and some new features to help with common usage and automation.

You can see the release notes for the full list of changes. We’ll go over the highlights here.

Compatibility/bug fixes

In this release, we’ve aimed to fix a handful of compatibility problems that have been reported to us. Thanks to all the contributors who sent patches!

  • RBTools is once again compatible with Mercurial 2.x. This regressed in 0.7.6.
  • Some error displays are fixed when using the version of Python shipped with macOS 10.11.
  • Perforce gained the ability to post against null client roots, and fixed posting ranges of submitted changelists.
  • Repository lookups utilizing mirror paths or Subversion UUIDs now work once again. These regressed in 0.7.6.
  • rbt post for Git now supports --exclude-patterns when using git-svn or git-p4.
  • rbt land no longer crashes if it can’t determine the approval state on a review request.

Improved Team Foundation Server support

The old TFS support was a bit slow, due to the way we had to interact with the Team Foundation Server command line tools. It also presented compatibility problems, as different versions of Visual Studio shipped different, incompatible versions of these tools.

We’ve now introduced new support that doesn’t depend on their tools and is optimized for our use cases. This means better compatibility everywhere, faster posting, and new features.

To start with, we’re adding the ability to post shelved changesets! You can do this by simply running:

rbt post <shelveset-name>

To begin using RBTools 0.7.7 with TFS, you will need to install our new TFS adapter by typing:

rbt install tfs

New features

We’ve added the ability to specify a destination tracking branch for rbt land. To choose something other than the default (say, origin/master on Git), you can now specify:

rbt land --tracking-branch <branch-name>

If you find yourself needing to pass --svn-prompt-password all the time for your Subversion setup, you can set SVN_PROMPT_PASSWORD in your project’s or user’s .reviewboardrc instead. Just set this and you’ll never have to type it again:

SVN_PROMPT_PASSWORD = True

What’s coming next

We’re working toward a RBTools 1.0 release, which will feature enhanced support for Mercurial, new automation commands for use in the upcoming Review Board 3.0, easier setup and installation, and better display of progress when posting changes.

We’re also hard at work on a rewrite of our documentation, with the aim of providing more practical, detailed setup and usage guides for RBTools. These will begin to land over the next month.

If you have any bug reports or feature requests for either RBTools or the documentation, we’d love to hear them! You can file a bug or reach out to us on our reviewboard-dev discussion list.

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RBTools 0.7.6 is released!

Today’s all-new release of RBTools 0.7.6 comes with over a dozen improvements, from Mercurial and Perforce fixes to new Team Foundation Server capabilities to automation enhancements.

We’ve fixed some character set compatibility bugs with Team Foundation Server. There’s also new support for posting branched/copied files for review (this requires some changes we’ll be bringing to RBCommons in a big update this quarter), excluding files using --exclude, and specifying a custom path to tf.exe.

Perforce users should see more stability in edge cases, like posting deleted symbolic links for review or when dealing with Unicode mismatches between review requests and changesets.

Mercurial users can now safely use relative, negative, or short revisions when specifying commits to post for review.

We’ve improved RBTools’s behavior when running in a non-interactive console, allowed rbt api-get to be used outside of a source tree, and made it easier to work with paginated responses in the Python API.

Performance has been improved when looking up repositories on ClearCase and Subversion.

These are just some of the improvements made in RBTools 0.7.6. For the complete list, see the release notes.

To upgrade RBTools, visit the downloads page.

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RBTools 0.7.5 is here!

RBTools 0.7.5 is now out and ready to install.

This is largely a bug fix release, focusing in part on improved compatibility with Windows, Git, Subversion, Mercurial, Perforce, and Team Foundation Server.

On Windows, RBTools will now first look in %HOME% to find any custom .reviewboardrc files, instead of only looking in the Application Data directory, which will be quite helpful with many system configurations. There are also fixes for using Mercurial on Windows.

Non-Git user? You’ve probably seen that annoying but harmless command not found: git error when posting a change. That’s gone now!

For Perforce users, posting submitted changes or files outside of the client view now work. This had regressed in an earlier release, but you should be in good shape now.

Subversion has seen some more Unicode fixes, plus fixes for rbt post --svn-show-copies-as-adds.

Along with all this, we’ve added a new feature for setting a custom search path for .reviewboardrc. You can set your $RBTOOLS_CONFIG_PATH to a list of paths to search, allowing you to make your version in $HOME take precedence over what’s in your repository, and allowing you to work with centralized collections of aliases in your organization.

See the release notes for the complete list of changes.

One more thing: We’ve simplified installation for those of you using pip to install. Our builds are now directly hosted on PyPI, meaning all you now need to do to upgrade is run pip install -U RBTools.

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