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These are notes for using Mercurial. (They really don’t belong in the Java QRG section, but since I use Mercurial to get Java source files, it feels appropriate for me to include them here.)

Command Description
init initializes a repository as a mercurial repository
status gets the status of the repo
add –all adds all the files
add sample.txt adds a specific file to the repo
add *.md add all files with an .md extension to the repo
add . add all files of all extensions to the repo
commit -m “here’s my commit msg” commit the current files to the repository
log get a log of the commits
remote add origin set the github repo destination to your repo
push -u origin master push to your repo
pull origin master get files from the repo
get diff HEAD see the changes
rm ‘*.dita’ remove all the files with the .dita extension from the repository
merge merge your local files with the latest working set
up go to the working set (the latest changeset)
diff see the differences between stuff
clone clones a repository into a folder in the current directory. also sets up hg in this local repository. cd to /users/tjohnson/projects. Then hg clone <mercurial URL>
up or update updates the content to the latest working copy
parent this lets you know what the latest parent is. still not entirely sure what the parent means.
up default update to the latest working set
rollback allows you to rollback to an earlier changeset
heads lets you know what heads you’re merging here.
forget makes it so an added file is no longer added.
open file.txt opens a file so you can edit it (not HG specific)
subl file.txt opens a file in sublime so you can edit it.
outgoing shows ally he outgoing changes

Basic flow in pushing content

  1. Make changes, and then go hg commit -m "commit message"
  2. hg push
  3. If there are problems in pushing the content, then you type hg pull.
  4. If there are conflicts, type hg merge
  5. It will create a bunch of merges in the file. go through and sort it out first. remove all the »»» and «««<.
  6. hg resolve --mark file.txt. this will mark the conflict as resolved.
  7. Save the file and type hg commit -m "commit message".
  8. hg push. Now there shouldn’t be any problems.

Basic flow in pulling content:

  1. Go to hg pull to get the latest changeset.
  2. hg update to update to the latest working copy. (you can also do hg pull -u to accomplish it all in one command.)
  3. If there are problems, you’re notified about them. do hg merge
  4. The files get merged and you have to go through and sort out the conflicts. remove all the »»» and «««<.
  5. hg resolve --mark file.txt this will mark the conflict as resolved.
  6. hg commit -m "commit message"
  7. hg push

If you’re asked if you want to put multiple heads in the same file, don’t do it. It messes things up.

Random notes

  • Everything is a changeset. when you commit it, that diff is a changeset.
  • All that cloning does is take all the changesets and add them to your machine.
  • changeset numbers are different per each box. the numbers are for your own info.
  • pull grabs all the change sets.
  • hg forget: after you delete a file, in order to tell Mercurial not to warn you that it’s missing, use the forget command.

Testing the multi-user scenario

Create a repository called remote:

hg mkdir remote
cd remote
hg init

Now clone the repository into 2 other repositories:

hg clone remote jp
hg clone remote dm

Now open up several windows in iTerm: **Shell > Split Vertically **(do it twice)

In your other windows, cd to jp and cd to dm.

Now create a sample file and put it in remote. Make changes with one user and push. Pull from another user and make changes, etc. Works really well.


Clone a repository

cd to /users/tjohnson/projects

hg clone <mercurial URL>

Add all files to a repository

hg add .

Commit the files

hg commit -m "your commit msg"

Get the logs

hg log

Push to the central repository

hg push

Create an HG repository

do this if you’re creating an HG repository locally:

hg init

Get the latest files

hg pull

See list of changed files

hg status

See what changed in a specific file

hg diff file.txt


hg cat

Merge changes

hg merge

Update the working directory

hg update

Get help

hg help

Go forward or backwards in the directory

hg update -r 0

About Tom Johnson

Tom Johnson

I'm an API technical writer based in the Seattle area. On this blog, I write about topics related to technical writing and communication — such as software documentation, API documentation, AI, information architecture, content strategy, writing processes, plain language, tech comm careers, and more. Check out my API documentation course if you're looking for more info about documenting APIs. Or see my posts on AI and AI course section for more on the latest in AI and tech comm.

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