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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 creates and pushes tags to your git repository, please use with caution.


Build Status

(build is currently failing because of SSH issues on the Travis machine - but rake should pass for you locally).

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.


sudo gem install auto_tagger


The autotag executable

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

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

By default, running autotag does the following:

$ git fetch origin refs/tags/*:refs/tags/*
$ git update-ref refs/tags/demo/20100910051459 1242b283208d06661b2a916097c41c046510af68
$ git push origin refs/tags/*:refs/tags/*

The autotag executable has the following commands:

create STAGE
list STAGE
cleanup STAGE
delete_locally STAGE
delete_on_remote STAGE

The autotag executable accepts the following options:

--date-separator - the character used to separate parts of the timestamp
--fetch-refs - whether to fetch refs before creating or listing them
--push-refs - whether to push refs after creating them
--remote - specify a custom remote (defaults to "origin")
--ref-path - use a different ref directory, other than "tags"
--stages - specify all of the stages
--offline - don't push or fetch refs (is ignored with delete_on_remote command)
--dry-run - don't execute anything, but print the commands
--verbose - prints all commands as they run
--refs-to-keep - when using any clean commans, specify how many refs to keep
--executable - specify the full path to the git executable
--opts-file - the location of a custom options file

Capistrano Integration

AutoTagger comes with 2 capistrano tasks:

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

Example config/deploy.rb file:

require 'auto_tagger/recipes'

# The :auto_tagger_stages variable is required
set :auto_tagger_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 :auto_tagger_working_directory, "../../"

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

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

# You need to add the before/ater callbacks yourself
before "deploy:update_code", "auto_tagger:set_branch"
after  "deploy", "auto_tagger:create_ref"
after  "deploy", "auto_tagger:print_latest_refs"

Capistano-ext multistage support

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

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

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

You can specify the following capistrano variables that correspond to the autotag options:



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 :auto_tagger_stages, [:ci, :staging, :production]

The deployments would look like this:

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

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

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

If you add before "deploy:update_code", "auto_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.

If you don't specify any auto_tagger_stages, auto_tagger will create a tag that starts with "production".


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", "auto_tagger:print_latest_refs"

Or call it directly, like:

cap production auto_tagger:print_latest_refs

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


You can store options in an options file, which is .auto_tagger by default. You can set options in this file like so:




  1. Authorize your local SSH keys to access your local machine:


    To verify, you should be able to connect to localhost without supplying a password:

    ssh localhost
  2. Install bundler:

    gem install bundler
  3. Install the project's bundle:

    bundle install


To run the entire suite:


To run individual test suites:

rake spec
rake features


  • run rake and make sure that things are green
  • update the changelog to say what you've done
  • update the version
  • commit your changes
  • run rake build
  • run rake install and then open the gem and make sure everything looks ok
  • run rake release


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
  • Pat Nakajima for making auto_tagger a better ruby citizen
  • Josh Susser for recommending the date format changes


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

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