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This is a minimalist decentralized issue management system based on Git, offering (optional) biderectional integration with GitHub and GitLab issue management. It has the following advantages over other systems.

  • No backend, no dependencies: You can install and use git issue with a single shell command. There's no need for a server or a database back-end, and the corresponding problems and requirements for their administration.
  • Decentralized asynchronous management: Anyone can add, comment, and edit issues without requiring online access to a centralized server. There's no need for online connectivity; you can pull and push issues when you're online.
  • Transparent text file format: Issues are stored as simple text files, which you can view, edit, share, and backup with any tool you like. There's no risk of losing access to your issues because a server has failed.
  • Git-based: Issues are changed and shared through Git. This provides git issue with a robust, efficient, portable, and widely available infrastructure. It allows you to reuse your Git credentials and infrastructure, allows the efficient merging of work, and also provides a solid audit trail regarding any changes. You can even use Git and command-line tools directly to make sophisticated changes to your issue database.


Administrator installation

Clone the repo and run make install with appropriate privileges.

Personal installation

Clone the repo and register a git alias to the script:

git config --global alias.issue '!'"${REPO_PATH}/"

If you are using a bash shell, you can also register the autocompletion by adding the following to your .bashrc.

source ${REPO_PATH}/

Backward compatibility with the gi command

For backward compatibility you can also use the original gi command, by copying to someplace in your path. In this case you must register the git alias to use the auto completion feature. If you have administrative access you can install it with sudo install /usr/local/bin/gi. For your personal use, assuming that the directory ~/bin exists and is in your path, you can install it with install ~/bin/gi. You can even put gi in your project's current directory and run it from there.

Portability and testing

The script has been tested on:

  • Archlinux (20220101)
  • Debian GNU/Linux
  • FreeBSD
  • macOS
  • Cygwin. If you're running git issue on another system, run the script to verify its operation, and (please) update this file.


git-issue requires the jq and curl utilities. OS X users might also need GNU date, obtained by installing homebrew package coreutils. For running the tests shellcheck is also required.


You use git issue with the following sub-commands.

Start an issue repository

  • git issue clone: Clone the specified remote repository.
  • git issue init: Create a new issues repository in the current directory. The -e option uses an existing Git project repository.

Work with an issue

  • git issue new: Create a new open issue (with optional -s summary and -c "provider user repo" for github/gitlab export).
  • git issue show: Show specified issue (and its comments with -c).
  • git issue comment: Add an issue comment.
  • git issue edit: Edit the specified issue's (or comment's with -c) description
  • git issue tag: Add (or remove with -r) a tag.
  • git issue milestone: Specify (or remove with -r) the issue's milestone.
  • git issue weight: Specify (or remove with -r) the issue's weight. The weight is a positive integer that serves as a measure of importance.
  • git issue duedate: Specify (or remove with -r) the issue's due date. The command accepts all formats supported by the date utility.
  • git issue timeestimate: Specify (or remove with -r) a time estimate for this issue. Time estimates can be given in a format accepted by date, however bear in mind that it represents a time interval, not a date.
  • git issue timespent: Specify (or remove with -r) the time spent working on an issue so far. Follows the same format outlined above. If the -a option is given, the time interval will be added together with the existing one.
  • git issue assign: Assign (or remove -r) an issue to a person. The person is specified with his/her email address. The form @name or name@ can be used as a shortcut, provided it uniquely identifies an existing assignee or committer. Note that if you plan to export the issue to a GitHub/GitLab repository, the assignee may be rejected if it doesn't correspond to a valid username, or if you don't have the necessary permissions.
  • git issue attach: Attach (or remove with -r) a file to an issue.
  • git issue watcher: Add (or remove with -r) an issue watcher.
  • git issue close: Remove the open tag, add the closed tag

Show multiple issues

  • git issue list: List open issues (or all with -a). An optional argument can show issues matching a tag or milestone.

  • git issue list -l formatstring: This will list issues in the specified format, given as an argument to -l. The following escape sequences can be used:

    • %n : newline
    • %i : issue ID
    • %c : creation date
    • %d : due date
    • %e : time estimate
    • %s : time spent
    • %w : weight
    • %M : Milestone
    • %A : Assignee(s)
    • %T : Tags
    • %D : Description(first line)

    If the format string is one of: (oneline, short or full) it will interpreted as the corresponding preset.

    Optionally, one of the above given with -o will order based on this field(reverse order with -r).

Work with multiple issues

  • git issue filter-apply command: Run command in every issue directory. The following environment variables will be set:

    • GI_SHA : Sha of the current issue
    • GI_IMPORTS : The imports directories for current issue(one on each line)
    • GI_AUTHOR : Author of current issue
    • GI_DATE : Creation date of current issue

    The command can read, add/remove or edit any of the issue's attributes. Some potentially useful scripts to be used with this command are in the scripts/ directory. Remember to inspect the results (e.g. gi git diff) and commit them with gi git commit -a.

Synchronize with remote repositories

  • git issue push: Update remote Git repository with local changes.
  • git issue pull: Update local Git repository with remote changes.
  • git issue import: Import/update GitHub/GitLab issues from the specified project. If the import involves more than a dozen of issues or if the repository is private, set the environment variable GH_CURL_AUTH (GitHub) or GL_CURL_AUTH (GitLab) to the authentication token. For example, run the following command: export GH_CURL_AUTH="Authorization: token badf00ddead9bfee8f3c19afc3c97c6db55fcfde" You can create the authorization token through GitHub settings, with the repo and delete_repo(only for running the tests) permissions. For GitLab: export GL_CURL_AUTH="PRIVATE-TOKEN: JvHLsdnDmD7rjUXzT-Ea". The api permission is required. Use the GitLab settings to create the token. In case the repository is part of a GitLab group, specify repository as groupname/reponame.
  • git issue create: Create the issue in the provided GitHub repository. With the -e option any escape sequences for the attributes present in the description, will be replaced as above. This can be used to e.g. export an unsupported attribute to GitHub as text.
  • git issue export: Export modified issues for the specified project. Only the issues that have been imported and modified (or created by git issue create) by git-issue will be exported. With the -e option any escape sequences for the attributes present in the description, will be replaced as above. This can be used to e.g. export an unsupported attribute to GitHub as text.
  • git issue exportall: Export all open issues in the database (-a to include closed ones) to GitHub/GitLab. Useful for cloning whole repositories.

Help and debug

  • git issue help: Display help information about git issue.
  • git issue log: Output a log of changes made
  • git issue git: Run the specified Git command on the issues repository.
  • git issue dump: Dump the whole database in json format to stdout.

Issues and comments are specified through the SHA hash associated with the parent of the commit that opened them, which is specifically crafted for that element and can be used to derive its date and author.


All data are stored under .issues, which should be placed under .gitignore, if it will coexist with another Git-based project. The directory contains the following elements.

  • A .git directory contains the Git data associated with the issues.
  • A config file with configuration data.
  • An imports directory contains details about imported issues.
    • The sha file under import/<provider>/<user>/<repo>/<number> contains the git-issue SHA corresponding to an imported GitHub number issue. Likewise for GitLab.
    • The sha file under import/<provider>/<user>/<repo>/<number>/comments/<number> contains the git-issue comment SHA corresponding to an imported GitHub/GitLab number comment.
    • The file import/<provider>/<user>/<repo>/checkpoint contains the SHA of the last imported or updated issue. This can be used for merging future updates.
  • An issues directory contains the individual issues.
  • Each issue is stored in a directory named issues/xx/xxxxxxx..., where the x's are the SHA of the issue's initial commit.
  • Each issue can have the following elements in its directory.
    • A description file with a one-line summary and a description of the issue.
    • A duedate file with the due date stored in ISO-8601 format.
    • A weight file with the weight stored as a positive integer.
    • A timespent and timeestimate file with the time estimate and time spent respectively, stored in seconds.
    • A comments directory where comments are stored, each with the SHA of a commit containing the text gi comment mark issue SHA.
    • An attachments directory where the issue's attachments are stored.
    • A tags file containing the issue's tags, one in each line.
    • A milestone file containing the issue's milestone name.
    • A watchers file containing the emails of persons to be notified when the issue changes (one per line).
    • An assignee file containing the email for the person assigned to the issue.
  • A templates directory with message templates.


Contributions are welcomed through pull requests. Before working on a new feature please look at open issues, and if no corresponding issue is open, create one to claim priority over the task. Contributions should pass tests and should be accompanied with a corresponding test case and documentation update. Note that to avoid duplicating information, the subcommands, the used files, and usage examples, are automatically inserted into the script and its documentation from the file using the command.


The video of a presentation of git issue at FOSDEM 2020 is available for streaming or download.

Example session

You can also view a video of the following session on YouTube.

Initialize issue repository

$ git issue init
Initialized empty Issues repository in /home/dds/src/gi/.issues
$ git issue new -s 'New issue entered from the command line'
Added issue e6a95c9

Create a new issue (opens editor window)

$ git issue new
Added issue 7dfa5b7

List open issues

$ git issue list
7dfa5b7 An issue entered from the editor
e6a95c9 New issue entered from the command line

Add an issue comment (opens editor window)

$ git issue comment e6a95c9
Added comment 8c0d5b3

Add a due date for the issue

$ git issue duedate "next Tuesday" e6a95c9
Added duedate 2019-08-13T00:00:00+03:00

Keep track of time spent on the issue

$ git issue timespent "2hours" e6a95c9
Added timespent 7200

Log additional time spent working on it

$ git issue timespent -a "4 hours" e6a95c9
Added timespent 21600

Add tag to an issue

$ git issue tag e6a9 urgent
Added tag urgent

Add two more tags

$ git issue tag e6a9 gui crash
Added tag gui
Added tag crash

Remove a tag

$ git issue tag -r e6a9 urgent
Removed tag urgent

Assign issue

$ git issue assign e6a9
Assigned to

Add issue watcher

$ git issue watcher e6a9
Added watcher

List issues tagged as gui

$ git issue list gui
e6a95c9 New issue entered from the command line

Push issues repository to a server

$ git issue git remote add origin
$ git issue git push -u origin master
Counting objects: 60, done.
Compressing objects: 100% (50/50), done.
Writing objects: 100% (60/60), 5.35 KiB | 0 bytes/s, done.
Total 60 (delta 8), reused 0 (delta 0)
 * [new branch]      master -> master
Branch master set up to track remote branch master from origin.

Clone issues repository from server

$ git issue clone my-issues
Cloning into '.issues'...
remote: Counting objects: 60, done.
remote: Compressing objects: 100% (42/42), done.
remote: Total 60 (delta 8), reused 60 (delta 8), pack-reused 0
Receiving objects: 100% (60/60), 5.35 KiB | 0 bytes/s, done.
Resolving deltas: 100% (8/8), done.
Checking connectivity... done.
Cloned into my-issues

List open issues

$ git issue list
7dfa5b7 An issue entered from the editor
e6a95c9 New issue entered from the command line

Create new issue

$ git issue new -s 'Issue added on another host'
Added issue abc9adc

Push changes to server

$ git issue push
Counting objects: 7, done.
Compressing objects: 100% (6/6), done.
Writing objects: 100% (7/7), 767 bytes | 0 bytes/s, done.
Total 7 (delta 0), reused 0 (delta 0)
   d6be890..740f9a0  master -> master

Show issue added on the other host

$ git issue show 7dfa5b7
issue 7dfa5b7f4591ecaa8323716f229b84ad40f5275b
Author: Diomidis Spinellis <>
Date:   Fri, 29 Jan 2016 01:03:24 +0200
Tags:   open

    An issue entered from the editor

    Here is a longer description.

Show issue and comments

$ git issue show -c e6a95c9
issue e6a95c91b31ded8fc229a41cc4bd7d281ce6e0f1
Author: Diomidis Spinellis <>
Date:   Fri, 29 Jan 2016 01:03:20 +0200
Tags:   open urgent gui crash

    New issue entered from the command line

comment 8c0d5b3d77bf93b937cb11038b129f927d49e34a
Author: Diomidis Spinellis <>
Date:   Fri, 29 Jan 2016 01:03:57 +0200

    First comment regarding the issue.

Pull in remote changes (on the original host)

$ git issue pull
remote: Counting objects: 7, done.
remote: Compressing objects: 100% (6/6), done.
remote: Total 7 (delta 0), reused 7 (delta 0), pack-reused 0
Unpacking objects: 100% (7/7), done.
   d6be890..740f9a0  master     -> origin/master
Updating d6be890..740f9a0
 issues/ab/c9adc61025a3cb73b0c67470b65cefc133a8d0/description | 1 +
 issues/ab/c9adc61025a3cb73b0c67470b65cefc133a8d0/tags        | 1 +
 2 files changed, 2 insertions(+)
 create mode 100644 issues/ab/c9adc61025a3cb73b0c67470b65cefc133a8d0/description
 create mode 100644 issues/ab/c9adc61025a3cb73b0c67470b65cefc133a8d0/tags

List open issues

$ git issue list
7dfa5b7 An issue entered from the editor
abc9adc Issue added on another host
e6a95c9 New issue entered from the command line

Import issues from GitHub

$ git issue import github dspinellis git-issue-test-issues # Import GitHub issues
Imported/updated issue #3 as 0a27c66
Imported/updated issue #2 as feb2a2c
Imported/updated issue #2 comment 416631296 as f7de92c
Imported/updated issue #2 comment 416631349 as 03acf84
Imported/updated issue #2 comment 417048301 as 0cd48ed
Imported/updated issue #2 comment 417049466 as 325a581
Imported/updated issue #1 as bbe144d
$ git issue list
feb2a2c An open issue on GitHub with a description and comments
0a27c66 An open issue on GitHub with assignees and tags
$ git issue show 0a27c66
issue 0a27c6633f492e42bb2a24e6ae458482a4690a55
Author: dspinellis <>
Date:   Thu, 30 Aug 2018 20:59:59 +0000
GitHub issue: #3 at vyrondrosos/git-issue-test-issues
Tags:   bug
        good first issue
Assigned-to:    dspinellis

    An open issue on GitHub with assignees and tags


Edit History:
* Thu, 30 Aug 2018 20:59:59 +0000 by dspinellis
* <>

Export all issues to GitHub

$ git issue exportall github dspinellis git-issue-test-issues
Creating issue 9179d38...
Couldn't add assignee dspinellis. Skipping...
Couldn't add assignee louridas. Skipping...
Creating issue 3651dd3...
Creating new Milestone ver3...
Creating comment d72c68d0177b500a91ea37548e6594f84457fd5b...
Creating comment 6966d4d718c80cf8635e9276d6f391de70c22f93...
Creating comment 85293a6904d0fbd6238fbb2e1c36fc65af9ffc60...
Creating comment aea83723c0414ff135afcfb5165d64f8a7ad687c...

Make changes

$ git issue edit 9179d38
Opening editor...
Edited issue 9179d38
$ git issue edit -c d72c6
Opening editor...
Edited comment d72c68d

Export modified issues back to GitHub

$ git issue export github dspinellis git-issue-test-issues # Needs a token with the relevant permissions
Issue b83d92872dc16440402516a5f4ce1b8cc6436344 not modified, skipping...
Comment a93764f32179e93493ceb0a7060efce1e980aff1 not modified, skipping...
Exporting issue 9179d381135273220301f175c03b101b3e9c703d as #15
Issue 3651dd38e4e1d9dbce66649710324235c773fe78 not modified, skipping...
Updating comment d72c68d0177b500a91ea37548e6594f84457fd5b...
Comment 6966d4d718c80cf8635e9276d6f391de70c22f93 not modified, skipping...
Comment 85293a6904d0fbd6238fbb2e1c36fc65af9ffc60 not modified, skipping...
Comment aea83723c0414ff135afcfb5165d64f8a7ad687c not modified, skipping...

Sub-command auto-completion

$ git issue [Tab]
assign   clone    comment  git      init     log      pull     show     watcher
attach   close    edit     help     list     new      push     tag

Issue SHA auto-completion

$ git issue show [Tab]
7dfa5b7 - An issue entered from the editor
e6a95c9 - New issue entered from the command line

Related work

  • bug, inspired by Bugs Everywhere, written in Go, supports git and hg
  • Bugs Everywhere, also written in Python, supports many version control backends and offers a web interface.
  • deft developed in 2011 is based on the same idea. It requires Python and offers a GUI.
  • Fossil is a distributed version control software that also supports issue tracking and a wiki. It runs as a single executable.
  • git-appraise is a distributed code review system for Git repos based again on Git.
  • git-bug, again written in Go, is a distributed bug tracker embedded in git.
  • GitHub cli, offers a subcommand for managing GitHub's issues.
  • Perceval can download issues from a variety of systems, including GitHub and GitLab.
  • SD (Simple Defects), an (unmaintained) distributed bug tracking system based on a distributed database. It can import/export from/to foreign ticketing systems.

More historical references can be found in this old LWN article on distributed bug tracking.