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From: Christian Couder <christian.couder@gmail.com>
To: Abhishek Kumar <abhishekkumar8222@gmail.com>
Cc: git <git@vger.kernel.org>
Subject: Re: [GSoC][RFC] Convert mergetool to builtin
Date: Thu, 12 Mar 2020 02:15:18 +0100
Message-ID: <CAP8UFD0Zi4n3gqC5Nii3LmxF4i+ZHx1fmUn1LdKwZZw+bgsWSQ@mail.gmail.com> (raw)
In-Reply-To: <CAHk66fsEjanKPtUhVnDMmU2JCL7MK+MzYbGdCAuCh00DOwgEYg@mail.gmail.com>

Hi,

On Sun, Mar 8, 2020 at 6:32 PM Abhishek Kumar
<abhishekkumar8222@gmail.com> wrote:
>
> I am Abhishek Kumar and I want to work on converting mergetool to a builtin as
> my GSoC project. I would love to have your comments on the proposal, the
> approach I have opted for. There are some questions I had while writing at the
> end of proposal too.

Thanks for your proposal!

> # Convert mergetool to builtin
>
> ## Synopsis
>
> A few subcommands of git are in the form of shell and Perl scripts. This causes
> problems in production code - in particular, on multiple platforms.
>
> This project rewrites git mergetool in C to improve its performance and
> portability. It would also lay the groundwork for the subsequent conversion of
> mergetool--lib.

There are other reasons why we convert shell scripts to C.

> ## About git mergetool
>
> Git mergetool runs merge conflict resolution tools to resolve merge conflicts.
> Internally, it is implemented as two scripts - `git-mergetool.sh` and
> `git-mergetool--lib.sh`.
>
> `git-mergetool.sh` is the driver script and does the following:
> - Parse options.
> - Get merge tool name from configuration.
> - List unmerged files.
> - Identify the type of conflict.
> - Resolve deleted, submodule, and symlink conflicts.
> - Pass normal file conflicts to `git-mergetool--lib.sh`.

Nice description.

> `git-mergetool--lib.sh` stores common functions shared by `git-mergetool.sh`
> and `git-difftool--helper.sh` and does the following:
> - List all conflict resolution tools.
> - Set up tools.
> - Validate conflict resolution in case of untrustable tools.
> - Run the merge/diff tool.

Nice too.

> ## Goal
>
> At over 1700 lines of code, conversion of the mergetool-related scripts is
> impossible over a summer of code project.
>
> The goal of this project is to rewrite `git-mergetool.sh` in C. Normal merge
> conflicts would still be resolved through `git-mergetool--lib.sh` (a strategy
> adopted by difftool as well). I hope future SoC/Outreachy students pick up on
> this idea and rewrite the other two scripts.

If you start talking about the number of lines of code, it would be
logical to also give the number for each script, not just the total.

> ## Benefits to the community
>
> ### Better performance
>
> Subcommands written in shell scripts are slower than builtins. Shell scripts are
> inherently slower than binaries and shell scripts invoke git's porcelain
> commands, which do not have access to git's internal API. For each such call,
> git would re-read configuration files, repository index, etc. Such repetition
> is inefficient.
>
> As noted in Hannes's patch, git-mergetool _spawns an enormous number of
> processes_ [1]. The test suite spawns over 12,000 processes and 2,000 non-git
> commands.
>
> Partial conversion for difftool improved performance by 4.3x for Linux and 1.2x
> for windows [2]. We can expect similar gains for mergetool as well.

Ok.

> Improvements differ due to the overhead from shelling out to helper script.
> A complete conversion would avoid the overhead and show even more significant
> improvements for both systems.
>
> [1]: https://lore.kernel.org/git/cover.1560152205.git.j6t@kdbg.org/
> [2]: https://lore.kernel.org/git/8ab75685f718cfeb571409830ae3c6ee14ac5158.1484857756.git.johannes.schindelin@gmx.de/
>
> ### Portablity
>
> Shell scripts often rely on POSIX utilities. They are not necessarily available
> natively on all platforms or might have some differences. On non-POSIX platforms
> (like windows), utilities need to be included along with an emulation layer. C
> offers improved portability.

Maybe "Windows" instead of "windows".

> ### Conversion of mergetool--lib
>
> As mentioned earlier, conversion of the mergetool-related scripts has to be
> spread over 2-3 SoC or similar projects due to the size of scripts involved.
> Conversion of mergetool would set up most of the plumbing required for
> mergetool--lib and makes the subsequent conversion possible.

I wonder if it would be better to convert git-mergetool--lib.sh first
and then git-difftool--helper.sh and git-mergetool.sh that are using
it.

> On a broader (_and possibly ambitious_) note, I would be happy to co-mentor
> any student who takes up the conversion process. It would be gratifying to see
> our collective efforts finish a mammoth task.

Great!

> ## Related Work
>
> Back in 2016, Johannes worked on a remarkably similar "project" - converting
> `git-difftool.sh` into a builtin [3].

What can be learned from this?

> There have been similar SoC/Outreachy projects converting other scripts:
> - bisect--helper by and Miriam Rubio.
> - Interactive rebase by Alban Gruin and Pratik Karki [4], [5].
>
> and others.
>
> [3]: https://lore.kernel.org/git/cover.1479834051.git.johannes.schindelin@gmx.de/
> [4]: https://github.com/prertik/GSoC2018/
> [5]: https://github.com/agrn/gsoc2016
>
> ## Overview
>
> _This section is an oversimplified primer on how mergetool works internally._
>
> git-mergetool runs conflict resolution tools to resolve merge conflicts.
>
> In a merge conflict, the following files are involved:
> - Local: The 'ours' side of the conflict i.e., current HEAD.
> - Remote: The 'theirs' side of the conflict i.e., branch merging into HEAD.
> - Base: The common ancestor of both branches.
>
> Merge conflicts are of four types - Symbolic link conflict, deleted file
> conflict, submodule conflict, and file conflict.
>
> First three type of conflict occurs when either local or remote is a symlink,
> deleted file or part of a submodule.
>
> Checking out the appropriate version of the file from the index resolves
> symlink conflicts.
>
> Deleted file conflicts are resolved by either adding file back to index or
> removing it from the working tree and index.
>
> Submodule conflicts are somewhat involved. Assuming the user wants to keep
> local file:
>
> ```
> if the local file exists in current directory
>   - If local is in submodule mode, stage the submodule.
>   - If remote is in submodule mode, check out the file from the index with
> stage 2.
> else:
>   - If local file exists in a subdirectory, add it to index.
>   - If local file does not exist, force remove it from the index.
> ```
>
> There is a similar flow if the user wants to keep the remote file.
>
> File conflicts arise when competing changes are made to the same line of a file.
> Git merge's strategies cannot solve them, and they must be resolved manually.
>
> Mergetool relies on external tools like vimdiff, kdiff, meld to resolve
> conflicts. Mergetool decides the external tool in the following precedence:
> - Parameter passed
> - Configuration
> - Iterating over defaults
>
> `get_merge_tool` decides the external tool. This function is used by
> both mergetool--lib and difftool--helper.

Isn't this function defined in git-mergetool--lib.sh and used by
git-mergetool.sh?

> The return code of the external tool is usually not trusted. Depending on
> whether we trust return code or not, the script prompts the user to re-affirm
> whether the merge was successful.
>
> The main function of mergetool iterates over the unmerged files (in given order
> if passed) - identifying the type of conflict and calls the appropriate function
> to resolve.

Nice explanation.

> ## Plan
>
> Similar to the conversion of difftool, I plan to create a builtin that shells
> out to a helper script. Once mergetool--lib is converted, we can retire the
> helper script and conversion would be complete.

So you plan to create a builtin that would shell out to git-mergetool--lib.sh?

Could you be clearer about what the conversion of difftool did and how
you plan to imitate that?

> I realize this is unlike most conversions, where the script calls the builtin,
> and features are incrementally transferred.

Yeah, so it's good to properly justify what you are planning to do by
explaining what the conversion of difftool did and how what you plan
to do will be similar.

> My choice is motivated by the fact that the child process cannot set variables
> for their parent. mergetool makes extensible use of setting variables to share
> them between functions.
>
> For example - If I implement `git mergetool--helper --tmpdir-init` to replace
> `mergetool_tmpdir_init` [6], I cannot set `$MERGETOOL_TMPDIR`. One possible
> workaround (which does not account for "returning" multiple variables) is to
> print out results and capture it in the script. But it seems too hacky to me.
>
> [6]: https://github.com/git/git/blob/076cbdcd739aeb33c1be87b73aebae5e43d7bcc5/git-mergetool.sh#L41

Is it the reason why the conversion of difftool was done in a similar
way as what you are planning?

> I plan to break down the implementation into following smaller steps:
>
> 1. Community bonding period (April 27 - May 18)
> - Study mergetool in greater detail.
> - Read up on builtin, run-command and other git internals.
> - Understand the test suite.
>
> 2. Create a skeleton builtin (May 18 - May 21)
> - Rename git-mergetool.sh to git-legacy-mergetool.sh
> - Add a configuration variable mergetool.useBuiltin
> - Add a builtin which executes the legacy-mergetool unless mergetool.useBuiltin
>   is true

Is it how the conversion of difftool was done?

> 3. Implement scaffolding (May 21 - May 31)
> - Convert `main` except assigning mergetool
> - Around 100 lines
>
> 4. Implement shared functions (June 1 - June 7)
> - Convert `mergetool_tmpdir_init`
> - Convert `cleanup_temp_files`
> - Convert `describe_file`
> - Convert `checkout_staged_file`
> - Around 80 lines
>
> 5. Teach builtin to resolve symlink conflict (June 7 - June 20)
> - Convert `merge_file`
> - Convert `resolve_symlink_merge`
> - Around 150 lines

Ok.

> I noticed a possible bug in `resolve_symlink_merge`. The original file is
> backed up regardless of the configuration settings. Is that intended
> behavior? [7]
>
> [7]: https://github.com/git/git/blob/076cbdcd739aeb33c1be87b73aebae5e43d7bcc5/git-mergetool.sh#L92
>
> --> June 15 - June 19: Phase 1 evaluation
>
> 6. Teach builtin to resolve deleted file conflict (June 20 - June 27)
> - Convert `resolve_deleted_merge`
> - Around 70 lines
>
> 7. Teach builtin to resolve submodule conflict (June 27 - July 10)
> - Convert `stage_submodule`
> - Convert `resolve_submodule_merge`
> - Around 125 lines
>
> The implementation of `resolve_submodule_merge` seems repetitive. It might be
> possible to streamline both cases using flags and swapping variables [8].
>
> [8]: https://github.com/git/git/blob/076cbdcd739aeb33c1be87b73aebae5e43d7bcc5/git-mergetool.sh#L154
>
> --> July 13 - July 17: Phase 2 evaluation
>
> 8. Teach builtin to assign merge tool (July 10 - July 15)
> - Convert `get_configured_merge_tool` from mergetool--lib
> - Around 50 lines

Ok, so at this point you start to convert git-mergetool--lib.sh. Where
is the converted code going to be? Does git-difftool--helper.sh needs
what you will convert?

> Since the builtin would execute the helper script for each file conflict,
> querying config every time would be inefficient.
>
> --> My college begins from July 20
>
> 9. Teach builtin to shell out for file conflict (July 15 - July 31)
> - Write a minimal mergetool--helper.sh (similar to difftool--helper.sh)
> - Call the helper script from the builtin
> - Retire the legacy script.

Which legacy script?

> This helper script would:
> - Call `guess_merge_tool` from mergetool--lib.sh if mergetool has not been set
> - Call `run_merge_tool`
>
> The builtin would take care of backup and clean-ups.
>
> 10. Teach builtin to not trust exit code (August 1 - August 10)
> - Convert `trust_exit_code`, `run_merge_cmd`, `check_unchanged` from
>   mergetool--lib
> - Around 50 lines.
>
> 11. Wrap up (August 10 - August 17):
> - Submit final patches.
> - Compare the performance of script and builtin.
> - Write a blog summary of the experience.

If you want to write a blog, you might as well use it to regularly
update people about what's going on in your GSoC.

> I have slowed down the speed of conversion in the latter half of the project to
> act as a buffer in case of unexpected problems. I might need a week or two to
> ensure all tests pass after teaching builtin to shell out for file conflict.
>
> If everything goes well, I could work on converting mergetool specific functions
> from `mergetool--lib.sh` - `get_merge_tool_cmd`, `list_merge_tool_candidates`
> and others.

Ok.

> I plan to send out patches in the same order. I find that maintaining a
> long-running integration branch is more manageable than smaller patchsets.
> Smaller, multiple patchsets would suffer from constant rebase and push.
>
> After a "reasonable" break, I am going to look into the conversion of
> difftool--helper.
>
> _Pack bitmap support for libgit2_ and _Replace object loading/writing layer by
> libgit2_, two of 2014 project ideas were also interesting - although I didn't
> look into their current status.

I don't think we accept libgit2 projects anymore these days.

> ## Potential Problems
>
> ### Introduction of new bugs
>
> Rewriting code always has the possibility of introducing new bugs. The test
> suite groups together all types of conflicts together. Therefore the test suite
> would be ineffective until all types are implemented.

So are you planning to improve the test suite so that it can check all
types of conflict?

> While straightforward bugs would be caught by the test suite, the project might
> end up with subtle bugs and unspecified behavior.
>
> The choice of using mergetool.useBuiltin comes in handy here. We could release
> early preview versions and fix any bug reports we get. Once confident in the
> builtin, we could ship it by default.

Ok. I guess that's what the conversion of difftool did.

> ### Performance
>
> _Make the common case fast_.
>
> When it comes to mergetool, the typical case is overwhelmingly file conflicts.
> Until mergetool--lib is converted, builtin would execute helper script which
> would in turn source mergetool--lib and call `run_merge_tool`.
>
> This is more work than the script version - which would just source
> mergetool--lib  and call `run_merge_tool`.
>
> On the other hand, the other three cases are undoubtedly faster - since they
> would be entirely in C.
>
> It would be hard to predict whether performance, as perceived by users, would
> improve and by how much. Builtin would likely perform better for a constant
> number (_K_) of file conflicts and worse when there are more than K file
> conflicts.
>
> However, the inclusion of difftool gives me hope - since both difftool and
> mergetool suffer from identical penalties.
>
> I _might_ be worrying over microseconds of performance here ;).

Yeah :-)

> ## Contributions
>
> [Microproject] Consolidate test_cmp_graph logic
> -----
> Log graph comparison logic is duplicated many times. This patch consolidates
> comparision and sanitization logic in lib-log-graph.

Maybe "comparison" and "sanitation".

> Status: Merged
>
> Patch: https://lore.kernel.org/git/20200216134750.18947-1-abhishekkumar8222@gmail.com/

A link to the commit in GitHub (or GitLab) would be nice.

> I have also reviewed patches and discussed queries with other contributors:
> - https://lore.kernel.org/git/CAHk66fskrfcJ0YFDhfimVBTJZB4um7r=GdQuM8heJdZtF8D7UQ@mail.gmail.com/
> - https://lore.kernel.org/git/CAHk66fvt-1RaLK8E7SDpocWM9OMAcA-gP5hjHq6r5N_FbATNgA@mail.gmail.com/
> - https://github.com/git/git/pull/647#issuecomment-591978405
>
> and others.

Nice!

> ## About Me
>
> I am Abhishek Kumar, a second-year CSE student at National Institute of
> Technology Karnataka, India. I have a blog where I talk about my interests -
> programming, fiction, and literature [9].
>
> I primarily work with C/C++ and Ruby on Rails. I am a member of my institute's
> Open Source Club and student-built University Management System, _IRIS_. I have
> some experience of mentoring - Creating their code style guide and being an
> active reviewer [10].
>
> [9]: https://abhishekkumar2718.github.io/
>
> [10]: https://iris.nitk.ac.in/about_us

Nice.

> ## Availablity
>
> The official GSoC coding period runs from April 27 to August 17.
>
> My college ends on May 4 and starts for the next session on July 20.
>
> During the break, I can easily commit to 40 hours a week and have no prior
> commitments. After college begins, I can commit to around 25-30 hours.
>
> I will be sure to update the community in case of any changes.
>
> ## Post GSoC
>
> I would love to keep contributing to git after the GSoC period ends. There's so
> much to learn from the community.
>
> Hannes's comment on checks as a penalty that should be paid only by constant
> strbufs was a perspective I had not considered [11].
>
> Interacting with Kyagi made me rethink the justifications _emphasizing commit
> messages_. I was at my wit's end, which makes me appreciate my patient mentors
> more and want to give back to the community.
>
> [11]: https://lore.kernel.org/git/467c035f-c7cd-01e1-e64c-2c915610de01@kdbg.org/
>
> ## Contact Information
>
> | Name      | Abhishek Kumar                             |
> | Major     | Computer Science And Engineering           |
> | Institute | National Institute Of Technology Karnataka |
> | E-mail    | abhishekkumar8222@gmail.com                |
> | Github    | abhishekkumar2718                          |
> | Timezone  | UTC+5:30 (IST)                             |
>
> Thank you for taking the time to review my proposal!

Thanks for you proposal!

> 1. I would be converting around 650 lines. Is the scope of my project adequate?

I think so.

> 2. Were the sections of my proposal relevant and helpful?

Yes, but see the questions and comments I left.

> 3. Are there some relevant discussions/resources that I might have missed?

I don't think so, but I think you could take more advantage of what
you have already found.

Best,
Christian.

  reply index

Thread overview: 6+ messages / expand[flat|nested]  mbox.gz  Atom feed  top
2020-03-08 17:30 Abhishek Kumar
2020-03-12  1:15 ` Christian Couder [this message]
2020-03-25 17:00 ` [GSoC][Proposal v2] " Abhishek Kumar
2020-03-18 16:30 [GSoC][RFC] " Abhishek Kumar
2020-03-19  8:42 ` Kaartic Sivaraam
2020-03-22 11:27 ` Christian Couder

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