Helps you automatically create tags for each stage in a multi-stage deploment and deploy from the latest tag from the previous environment
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This gem is still in it's infancy, and lots of things might change. Since this creates and pushes tags to your git repository, please use with caution.


AutoTagger is a gem that helps you automatically create a date-stamped tag for each stage of your deployment, and deploy from the last tag from the previous environment.

Let's say you have the following workflow:

  • Run all test on a Continuous Integration (CI) server
  • Deploy to a staging server
  • Deploy to a production server

You can use the autotag command to tag releases on your CI box, then use the capistrano tasks to auto-tag each release.


gem sources -a
sudo gem install zilkey-auto_tagger


The autotag executable

Installing the gem creates an executable file named autotag, which takes two arguments: the stage, and optionally the path to the git repo:

$ autotag demo  # => creates a tag like demo/200804041234 in the current directory
$ autotag demo . # => same as above
$ autotag demo /Users/me/foo # => cd's to /Users/me/foo before creating the tag

Running autotag does the following:

$ git fetch origin --tags
$ git tag <stage>/<timestamp>
$ git push origin --tags

Capistrano Integration

AutoTagger comes with 2 capistrano tasks:

  • release_tagger:set_branch tries to set the branch to the last tag from the previous environment.
  • release_tagger:create_tag runs autotag for the current stage

Example config/deploy.rb file:

require 'release_tagger'

# The :autotagger_stages variable is required
set :autotagger_stages, [:ci, :staging, :production]

# The :working_directory variable is optional, and defaults to Dir.pwd
# :working_directory can be an absolute or relative path
set :working_directory, "../../"

task :production do
  # In each of your environments that need auto-branch setting, you need to set :stage
  set :stage, :production

task :staging do
  # If you do not set stage, it will not auto-set your branch
  # set :stage, :staging

# You need to add the before/ater callbacks yourself
before "deploy:update_code", "release_tagger:set_branch"
after  "deploy", "release_tagger:create_tag"
after  "deploy", "release_tagger:write_tag_to_shared"
after  "deploy", "release_tagger:print_latest_tags"

Cpistano-ext multistage support

If you use capistano-ext multistage, you can use auto_tagger.

set :autotagger_stages, [:ci, :staging, :production]
set :stages, [:staging, :production]
set :default_stage, :staging
require 'capistrano/ext/multistage'

When you deploy, autotagger will auto-detect your current stage.


This task sets the git branch to the latest tag from the previous stage. Assume you have the following tags in your git repository:

  • ci/01
  • staging/01
  • production/01

And the following stages in your capistrano file:

set :autotagger_stages, [:ci, :staging, :production]

The deployments would look like this:

cap staging release_tagger:set_branch    # => sets branch to ci/01
cap production release_tagger:set_branch # => sets branch to staging/01

You can override with with the -Shead and -Stag options

cap staging release_tagger:set_branch -Shead=true      # => sets branch to master
cap staging release_tagger:set_branch -Stag=staging/01 # => sets branch to staging/01

If you add before "deploy:update_code", "release_tagger:set_branch", you can just deploy with:

cap staging deploy

and the branch will be set for you automatically.


This cap task creates a new tag, based on the latest tag from the previous environment.

If there is no tag from the previous stage, it creates a new tag from the latest commit in your working directory.


This task reads the git version from the text file in shared:

cap staging release_tagger:read_tag_from_shared


This task takes the latest tag from each environment and prints it to the screen. You can add it to your deploy.rb like so:

after  "deploy", "release_tagger:print_latest_tags"

Or call it directly, like:

cap production release_tagger:print_latest_tags

This will produce output like:

** AUTO TAGGER: release tag history is:
 ** ci         ci/20090331045345              8031807feb5f4f99dd83257cdc07081fa6080cba some commit message
 ** staging    staging/20090331050908         8031807feb5f4f99dd83257cdc07081fa6080cba some commit message
 ** production production/20090331050917      8031807feb5f4f99dd83257cdc07081fa6080cba some commit message

Running tests:

You must be able to ssh into your box via localhost (remote login). To make this easier, add your own key to your own account:

cat ~/.ssh/ >>~/.ssh/authorized_keys

To ensure that this has worked, try this:

ssh localhost

If it asks you for a password, you've done something wrong.

To run the specs, execute:

spec spec/

To run the cucumber features, execute:

cucumber features/


Special thanks to

  • Brian Takita for the original recipes
  • Mike Dalessio for his git fu
  • Chad Wooley for his feature ideas
  • Tim Holahan for his QA


Copyright (c) 2009 [Jeff Dean], released under the MIT license