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Retool is Deprecated

As of March 2, 2022, retool is officially deprecated and will receive no further updates. This repo will remain available in read-only mode. We recommend customers of retool manage their tool dependencies using Go Modules instead, as recommended and supported by the core Go project. This wiki entry in the golang/go repository explains exactly how to do that.

For more information, please consult the blog linked above or the official docs on Go Modules.

Thank you for using retool!

Retool: Vendor thy tools!

Build Status Windows Build status

what is this

retool helps manage the versions of tools that you use with your repository. These are executables that are a crucial part of your development environment, but aren't imported by any of your code, so they don't get scooped up by glide or godep (or any other vendoring tool).

Some examples of tools:

You want this if you use code generation: if everybody has a different version of the code generator, then you'll get meaningless churn across runs of the generator unless everyone is pinned to the right version.

You might also want this if you use linters or tools like in an automated fashion and you want to make sure that everyone has the same version so you can pass flags to the linter with confidence.

retool pins on a per-project basis. It works by making a complete GOPATH within your project. You can choose to commit the source files for those tools, if you like.


The expected workflow is something like this:

Install retool:

go get

Add a tool dependency:

retool add origin/master

Use it to generate code:

retool do go-bindata -pkg testdata -o ./testdata/testdata.go ./testdata/data.json

There are a few other commands that you'll use much less often:

Upgrade a tool to its latest version:

retool upgrade origin/master
# or to a particular tag
retool upgrade v0.17

Stop using that tool you dont like anymore:

retool remove

Compile all the tools that other people have vendored in a project:

# compiles everything without using the network - useful for isolated build environments
retool build

Double-check that you're in sync by comparing everything with upstream versions:

# makes sure your tools match tools.json by comparing against their remotes
retool sync

why would i need to manage these things

TL;DR: if you work with anyone else on your project, and they have different versions of their tools, everything turns to shit.

One of the best parts about Go is that it is very, very simple. This makes it straightforward to write code generation utilities. You don't need to generate code for every project, but in large ones, code generation can help you be much more productive.

Like, if you're writing tests that use an interface, you can use code generation to quickly whip up structs which mock the interface so you can force them to return errors. This way, you can test edge cases for your interaction points with interfaces. does this pretty well!

If you want to use the generated code, you should check in the generated .go code to git, not just the sources, so that build boxes and the like don't need all these code generation tools, and so that go get just works cleanly.

This poses a problem, though, as soon as you start working with other people on your project: if you have different versions of your code generation tools, which generate slightly different output, you'll get lots of meaningless churn in your commits. This sucks! There has to be a better way!

the retool way

retool records the versions of tools you want in a file, tools.json. The file looks like this:

  "Tools": [
      "Repository": "",
      "Commit": "2fea9e168bab814ca0c6e292a6be164f624fc6ca"

Tools are identified by repo and commit. Each tool in tools.json will be installed to _tools, which is a private GOPATH just dedicated to keeping track of these tools.

In practice, you don't need to know much about tools.json. You check it in to git so that everybody stays in sync, but you manage it with retool add|upgrade|remove.

When it's time to generate code, instead of go generate ./..., you use retool do go generate ./... to use your sweet, vendored tools. This really just calls PATH=$PWD/_tools/bin:PATH go generate ./...; if you want to do anything fancy, you can feel free to use that path too.

contributing to retool

Any pull requests are extremely welcome! If you run into problems or have questions, please raise a github issue!

Retool's tests are mostly integration tests. They require a working Go compiler, a working version of git, and network access.