co-located branches

At the moment, each Bazaar branch has a separate directory in the file system. While this works well, and makes it very easy to discover branches there are several situations where it might be useful to also support multiple branches under the same file system directory.

There is an experimental implementation for Bazaar available as a plugin at This was the original proof-of-concept and doesn't yet use the API documented here.


Allowing multiple branches to live under the same directory in the file system means that it is possible to very easily share the same working tree and repository between those branches, without having a lot of fs infrastructure.

Git and Mercurial (can) store multiple branches under a single directory in the file system - per repository, so to speak. In order for this to be accessible in Bazaar, Bazaar needs to have the right APIs and UI for accessing these branches.

Use Cases

Carla has a large C-based project with a large tree and a lot of .o files that get generated as part of her build process. She doesn't want to create a new working tree for each new branch but simply uses "bzr switch" to switch between the different colocated branches that all use the same working tree.

Brad has a single project with a lot of related branches. He works on them and occasionally pushes all of those branches to a remote host using a single push command.

Joe follows one of his co-workers local branches in Mercurial by pulling into Bazaar.


UI Changes

Bazaar URLs need to have some way to specify a colocated branch other than the current HEAD. Several options have been discussed, each with its own advantages and disadvantages: This was discussed on the mailing list, most notably the use of a ";branch=NAME" suffix as well as a special separation character (+, =, etc), but no final conclusion was reached.

Code Changes

BzrDir should support a BzrDir.supports_colocated_branches() call as well as BzrDir.colocated_branches property that contains a colocated branch container, that can be used to add / remove colocated branches as well as change the currently active colocated branch.

class ColocatedBranchContainer(object):

   def get_active_branch_name(self):
          """Returns the name of the currently active branch.

          This can be None if no branch is currently active.

   def get_active_branch(self):
          """Returns the currently active branches' Branch object."""

   def get_branch(self, name):
          """Returns the Branch object for the specified branch."""

   def available_branches(self):
          """Returns a set with the names of the available branches."""

   def set_active_branch(self, name):
          """Set the currently active branch."""

   def destroy_branch(self, name):
         """Destroy the specified branch.

        This will remove the branch from disk."""

If the particular BzrDir implementation doesn't support colocated branches, it can just return a dummy container that just contains a HEAD branch.

Looms can of course return a container with all their threads.

BzrDir.find_branches() should take into account the colocated branches when iterating over its branches.

Schema Changes

No format changes are necessary at first; at least, even if Bazaar provides the right infrastructure it doesn't have to support this feature in its own file formats.

Eventually, Bazaar could easily support colocated branches by just creating a new branch transport for each colocated branch and have a "regular" branch live there. This would require something like BzrDirMeta2 though.

Unresolved Issues

  • What about colocated looms ?
  • What character to use to name colocated branches in URLs?