A library for manipulating banks of git repositories

execute, shell, system, git, submodule
pip install banksync==0.9.10



banksync is a command line tool that simplifies the use of git commands across a "bank" or "collection" of repositories. It enables synchronization of historical configurations throughout the bank of repos.


You can install banksync from PyPi with a simple:

pip install banksync

Quick Start

A bank is a collection of repos defined in a syncfile. The syncfile typically resides in a syncrepo. In this example, we'll use a project called animals containing two repos: repoFish and repoBirds. The project can be placed anywhere, but for simplicity, we'll put it in the user's root directory.

To quickly clone and populate the example collection of repos, use the following commands:

cd ~
bank clone https://github.com/testbank/animalsRepoSync.git animals

This will git clone the thin syncrepo, which contains the syncfile, and then populate all constituent repos. The resulting structure will be:

├── repoBird
│   └── Bird.txt
├── repoFish
│   └── Fish.txt
└── syncrepo
    ├── bankconfig.ini
    └── syncfile.json

Let's walk quickly through what is happening

Step-by-step Walkthrough

Let's break down the quick start process into steps.

  1. Create a directory animals:

    cd ~
    sudo rm -r animals
    mkdir animals
    cd animals
  2. Clone the demonstration syncrepo for the animals project using standard git:

    git clone https://github.com/testbank/animalsRepoSync.git

    This clones the thin repo, which records the syncfile over time. It tracks the state of the repos in the bank at different times or stages. The resulting hierarchy is:

    └── animalsRepoSync
        ├── bankconfig.ini
        └── syncfile.json
  3. Populate the repositories in the bank:

    cd animalsRepoSync
    bank populate

    The populate command clones each of the repos specified in the syncfile, resulting in the following layout:

    ├── animalsRepoSync
    │   ├── bankconfig.ini
    │   └── syncfile.json
    ├── repoBird
    │   └── Bird.txt
    └── repoFish
        └── Fish.txt

issuing commands

We can now issue commands across the repos in the bank. From the syncrepo we can execute:

cd ~/animals/animalsRepoSync
bank git status

Which will execute the status command in each of the repos in the bank. If we want to checkout a previous state across the repos in the project we can do this via (from the syncrepo):

git checkout master~2
bank sync

The last two commands just moved the syncrepo two revisions back, and then synchronized the repos in the bank to the sync file at this earlier time. To get all repos back to the master branch revisions you can simply execute:

bank gitall checkout master

Which will do a git checkout master on all the repos in the bank including the sync repo.


The syncfile specifies which repositories are part of the bank, and what state the repositories should be synchronized to. A typical simple sync file might be the following

more ~/animals/animalsRepoSync/syncfile.json

Which yields:

    "repoFish" : {
        "path" : "repoFish",
        "sha" : "a27368bec17373938b1dcf73638945b89b60a9d0",
        "UnixTimeStamp" : "1480517200",
        "date" : "30 Nov 2016 - 15:46:40",
        "author" : "Jason Harris",
        "revisionNumber" : "3",
        "message" : "committing salmon",
        "cloneURL" : "https://github.com/testbank/repoFish.git"
    "repoBird" : {
        "path" : "repoBird",
        "sha" : "6bf9d646b2aa224b64fb86cbddb4d7ab0f2e37d3",
        "UnixTimeStamp" : "1480517200",
        "date" : "30 Nov 2016 - 15:46:40",
        "author" : "Jason Harris",
        "revisionNumber" : "3",
        "message" : "committing eagle",
        "cloneURL" : "https://github.com/testbank/repoBird.git"

The syncfile should lie inside a git repo (the syncrepo). Whenever we want to record a configuration of the repos we simply alter the syncfile by transcribing the current state of the repos into the syncfile using bank record_repos with the appropriate options. We then use git commit to record this new state / configuration in the syncrepo.

So let us add some content to repoBird in our example and then commit this change.

cd  ~/animals/repoBird
echo "toucan" >> Bird.txt
git commit -am "committing toucan"

So now we can update the syncfile with the state of the current repos in the bank:

cd ~/animals/animalsRepoSync/
bank record_repos

The contents of our syncfile will now be something like:

    "repoFish" : {
        "path" : "repoFish",
        "sha" : "a27368bec17373938b1dcf73638945b89b60a9d0",
        "UnixTimeStamp" : "1480517200",
        "date" : "30 Nov 2016 - 15:46:40",
        "author" : "Jason Harris",
        "revisionNumber" : "3",
        "message" : "committing salmon",
        "cloneURL" : "https://github.com/testbank/repoFish.git"
    "repoBird" : {
        "path" : "repoBird",
        "sha" : "c8fb05947c5161e484104d99f427ec082fb4e85b",
        "UnixTimeStamp" : "1480519159",
        "date" : "30 Nov 2016 - 16:19:19",
        "author" : "Jason Harris",
        "revisionNumber" : "4",
        "message" : "committing toucan",
        "cloneURL" : "https://github.com/testbank/repoBird.git"

(Note the sha, timestamps, and other data about the state of the repo repoBird has changed.)

So we could now record this new overall state of the repos in the bank via simply committing the file syncfile in the syncrepo.

git commit -am "recording the latest state of the repos in animals."


How does the bank command know where to put the repoBird and repoFish? How does it know which syncfile to use, etc. Well in the syncrepo there is the file bankconfig.ini. This is a standard preferences file but in this example it has two important options: cwd=.. and syncfile=syncfile.json.

The cwd (ChangeWorkingDirectory) option specifies that the repo commands should be executed one level up from our current working directory. So since we are currently at ~/animals/animalsRepoSync that means that the repos paths will start from ~/animals/

The second option just tells us what the name of the syncfile is. We could have called it earthanimals.json if we wanted to.

Bank command line options

The command line tool bank has several options which can be specified:


The syncfile option specifies a syncfile. The syncfile contents specify which repos are part of the bank. The various keys which are recorded if present are:path, sha, UnixTimeStamp, date, author, revisionNumber, message, and cloneURL. Adding other keys at present will not effect or change the behavior of the bank tool so you can add other info as you see fit / want to each of the recorded states in the various repos.


The cwd option will change the working directory. Using this you can specify the relative path to get to the base of where the path for each of the repos in the bank are. For instance in the layout example of the animals project above, if we are in the directory animals/animalsSyncRepo then since the path in the syncfile for "Birds" is just repoBird then relative to animals/animalsSyncRepo we want the directory ../repoBird. So we would use the option --cwd ..


If this option is specified then banksync will report what it would do but it doesn't actually do anything.


You can specify if color is not to be used in output if for instance you want the logs to be parsed in jenkins or other devops tools. (The default is True, i.e. colorize the output of the bank command)


You can specify how much information banksync reports. This integer should be between 0, 1, 2, 3, or 4. The higher the number the more verbose is the reporting. The default is 2.


When attempting to sync the constituent repos to the versions specified in the syncfile, how do we determine what to set the versions to? We want some loose coupling in that for instance if someone runs filter branch on a project or they do some rebase very early on in the history then the shas will change on all the revisions in the repository. So instead of finding a commit via a sha we will have to fall back to looking for a matching timestamp for the revision. These are generally fairly unique in a project unless a lot of cherrypicking has gone on. If we don't find that exact timestamp then we could fall back to the closest matching revision to that timestamp. In this way at least we have some hope of getting close to the configuration at the time instead of just giving up. Ie we get to the exact configuration if it is available but if not get as close as we can. The value of the option can be:

  • shaOnly: if we can't find the exact same revision given by the sha in the syncfile than give up.
  • timestamps: try matching by sha first but if that fails find the first revision with the same unix timestamp. (This is almost always preserved across repo manipulation)
  • closetimestamps: try matching by sha first, if that fails try matching by timestamp. and if that fails find the revision with the closest timestamp and match to that.

Config file

Instead of specifying the --syncfile and—cwd in each command you can create a bankconfig.ini file alongside the syncfile. In the bankconfig.ini file you can specify the default syncfile and cwd to use if none is specified. Eg we could add the file animals/animalsSyncRepo/bankconfig.ini with the following contents:


Then you could omit the options to the bank command and they would be taken from the bankconfig.ini file so the above example would become:

cd animals/animalsSyncRepo
bank record_repos
git commit -am "recording the latest state of the repos in animals."

You can choose weather to include the bankconfig.ini in the syncrepo history or not. (We choose to in this example but other teams may leave this to the individual developers.)


The form of a bank command is bank <cmd> <opts> where <cmd> is one of sync, record_repos, create_syncfile, bisect, populate, git or gitall

bank sync

sync will update / checkout the revisions specified in the syncfile for each of the repos specified in the bank.

bank sync --syncfile syncfile.json

This would checkout / update the repos given in the syncfile syncfile.json to the states given in the syncfile. It each repo it tries to checkout the version first by the given sha, and then it falls back to the given timestamp, and then it falls back to the closest timestamp. (This fallback behavior can be controlled by the --matching option.)

bank sync --syncfile syncfile.json --cwd ../other/dir

This would checkout / update the repos given in the syncfile to the states given in the syncfile (but the path to each repo in the bank will be prefixed by the value of the --cwd option ../other/dir).

bank record_repos

record_repos is used to transcribe the current state of the repos into the syncfile. Eg:

bank record_repos --syncfile syncfile.json

This would alter the contents of the syncfile and change the revisions stored in the syncfile.json to match the current revisions of the referenced repositories.

bank create_syncfile

create_syncfile is used to generate an initial syncfile. Eg:

bank create_syncfile --syncfile syncfile.json repo1 repo2 ... repoN --cwd some/dir

This would generate or overwrite the syncfile.json to contain sync points for the current states of repo1, repo2, ... repoN

bank create_syncrepo

create_syncrepo is used to generate the syncrepo directory, initialize a git repository there, create the syncfile and also create the bankconfig.ini file. Basically it creates all the working parts of a syncrepo. Eg:

bank create_syncrepo repo1 repo2 ... repoN

This would create the directory syncrepo and fill it with a syncfile.json and a bankconfig.ini. The syncfile would contain the latest states of the repo1, repo2, ... repoN.

bank create_syncrepo --syncreponame controlrepo --syncfilename felipe.json repo1 repo2 ... repoN

Would create and initialize a syncrepo called controlrepo and inside that a syncfile called felipe.json.

bank bisect

You can use bank bisect on the syncrepo to step through historic configurations looking for a configuration which produces some change. (Typically we are searching for a regression.) Eg if we have a configuration file in the syncrepo the following might be a typical bisect session:

cd SomeSyncRepo
bank bisect start
bank bisect good 12e4f5
bank bisect bad master
<do build / test>
bank bisect good 78a6b9
<do build / test>
bank bisect bad ae726a

Basically we are git bisecting on the syncrepo, and after each bisect step we get a new configuration, then bank sync will be run to synchronize the repositories in the bank to their state at the time that iteration of the syncfile was recorded . So bank bisect <arguments> is basically equivalent to git bisect <arguments>; bank sync

Dispatching git commands

We can use bank to perform a git command on each repository in the bank. All git commands have the prefix 'git' along with the normal name of the git command. Eg

bank git status --syncfile syncfile.json

Will perform a git status operation on each of the repositories in the bank and print the results to stdout.

If you use gitall instead of git command, then the git command will also be run in the syncrepo.

bank gitall status --syncfile syncfile.json

Will perform a git status operation on each of the repositories in the bank and print the results to stdout.


To run the test suite you need py.test installed on your machine. Then after downloading the source code you can simply execute:

cd banksync_Package