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Add timestamped Git tags for each environment on deployment

branch: master

Capistrano Deployment Tags

This plugin to Capistrano will add a timestamped Git tag at each deployment, automatically. It is intended to be used with the multistage recipe and will tag each release by environment. You can, however, use it without multistage simply by setting :branch and :stage in your recipe.

What It Does

Simply: it makes it so you can track your deployments from Git. If I were to issue the command:

cap production deploy

This would result in one new git tag with the environment and timestamp:


These tags can be used for any number of useful things including generating statistics about deployments per day/week/year, tracking code size over a period of time, detecting Rails migrations, and probably a thousand other things I haven't thought of.


capistrano-deploytags is available on You can install it from there with:

gem install capistrano-deploytags

If you use Bundler, be sure to add the gem to your Gemfile. In your Capistrano config/deploy.rb you should add:

require 'capistrano-deploytags'

This will create two tasks, one that runs before deployment and one that runs after.

NOTE: You will be creating and pushing tags from the version of the code in the current checkout. This plugin needs to be run from a clean checkout of your codebase. You should be deploying from a clean checkout anyway, so in most cases this is not a restriction on how you already do things. The plugin will check if your code is clean and complain if it is not.

ALSO: The plugin will do a pull to make sure you have the code on your local system that will actually be deployed before checking the tree for changes. Know this ahead of time as this may affect how you deal with your deployment branches.

Setting the Remote

By default, Capistrano Deploytags will use the first remote in the list returned by git remote. If you prefer to use a different remote, then you may change the :git_remote setting from your deploy.rb, the stage, or on the command line with -S git_remote=your-remote.

Working on Your Deployment Scripts

Because you must have a clean tree to deploy, working on your deployment scripts themselves can be a bit frustrating unless you know how to make it work. The easiest way around this problem is to simply commit your changes before you deploy. You do not have to push them. The plugin will then happily carry on deploying without complaint.

Alternatively, you could disable the plugin temporarily with one of the methods described below.

Disabling Tagging for a Stage

Sometimes you do not want to enable deployment tagging for a particular stage. In that event, you can simply disable tagging by setting no_deploytags like so:

set :no_deploytags, true

You can also set this from the command line at any time with -S no_deploytags=true.

NOTE: this will disable the use of the plugin's functionality entirely for that stage. The tasks will run, but will do nothing. This means that tasks that are hooked to the Capistrano Deploytags tasks will also still run, but they may find their expectations are not met with regards to the cleanliness of the git tree.

Customizing the Tag Format

You may override the time format in config/deploy.rb:

set :deploytag_time_format, "%Y.%m.%d-%H%M%S-utc"

Viewing Deployment History

It's trivial to view the deployment history for a repo. From a checkout of the repo, type git tag -l -n1. The output looks something like:

dev-2013.07.22-105130 baz deployed a4d522d9d to dev
dev-2013.07.22-113207 karl deployed 4c43f8464 to dev
dev-2013.07.22-114437 gavin deployed 776e15414 to dev
dev-2013.07.22-115103 karl deployed 619ff5724 to dev
dev-2013.07.22-144121 joshmyers deployed cf1ed1a02 to dev

A little use of grep and you can easily get the history for a particular (e.g. git tag -l -n1 | grep dev).

It should be noted that the names used when tags are created are the local user name on the box where the deployment is done.

Helpful Git Config

You might find it useful to add this to your ~/.gitconfig in order to get a nice history view of the commits and tags.

   lol = log --pretty=oneline --abbrev-commit --graph --decorate

You can then view the list by typing git lol from the checked out code path.

Deploying a Previous Commit

Because you have to actually be on the head of the branch you are deploying in order for tagging to work properly, deploying a previous commit doesn't work as you might expect. The simple solution is to create a new branch from the previous commit you wish to deploy and supplying -S branch=<new branch> as arguments to Capistrano.

Running from Jenkins

Because Jenkins will check out the code with the current revision number you will be in a detached state. This causes the plugin to be unhappy about the git tree. The solution is to add -S branch=$GIT_COMMIT to the cap deploy line called from your Jenkins build. This will cause the diffs and comparisons done by the deploytags gem to be correct.


This software was written by Karl Matthias with help from Gavin Heavyside and the support of MyDrive Solutions Limited.


This plugin is released under the BSD two clause license which is available in both the Ruby Gem and the source repository.

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