Automate the distribution of patches to various Git repositories

2.0.0 2022-03-14 20:35 UTC



Version Build Status Made With License Contribution

A tool to automate the distribution of patches to various Git repositories.


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This project provides a tool to distribute changes to a several Git repositories with as little manual work as possible.

The need for this came up when I had to apply the same manual changes to many of my repositories:

  • Rename files having a certain name pattern, remove a line of code only if a condition matches, replace a link in all documents, execute another tool which then changes files and so on. Nothing a plain Git patch file could solve, but something that could be automated nevertheless with a migration script.
  • Create a feature branch, commit all changes with a good commit message, push the branch, wait for tests to turn green, open a pull request.
  • Repeat the same steps in many other repositories.

The idea is to do the changes only once and move the repetitions to a tool. Saving time, preventing careless mistakes and shun monotonous work.

📝 Take a look at this blog post with real world examples and how Patchbot helps to reduce technical debt across your own Git repositories.

See »Usage« for example commands.

The package follows the KISS principle.


  • PHP
  • Git


💡 Use the skeleton package to create an example project right away.

  • composer create-project pixelbrackets/patchbot-skeleton

Packagist Entry to install Patchbot only https://packagist.org/packages/pixelbrackets/patchbot/

  • composer require pixelbrackets/patchbot

Access rights

🔑 The user running Patchbot needs to have access to the target repository.

Make sure that the user running Patchbot is allowed to clone and push to all target repositories.

Patchbot allows all protocols for connections to remotes which are supported by Git natively: FILE, HTTP/HTTPS, SSH

The recommended protocol is SSH.

HTTPS Credentials

Git by default does not store any credentials. So every connection to a repository by HTTPS will prompt for a username and password.

To avoid these password prompts when using HTTPS URIs with Patchbot you have two options:

  • Allow Git to store credentials in memory for some time
    • The password prompt then pops up once only for each host
    • Example command to keep the credentials in memory for 15 minutes:
      git config --global credential.helper 'cache --timeout=900'
  • Force Git to use SSH protocol checkouts instead of HTTP/HTTPS
    • Has to be configured for each host
    • Example commands to set up the replacements for GitHub, GitLab & BitBucket
      git config --global url."ssh://git@github.com/".insteadOf "https://github.com/"
      git config --global url."ssh://git@gitlab.com/".insteadOf "https://gitlab.com/"
      git config --global url."ssh://git@bitbucket.org/".insteadOf "https://bitbucket.org/"



Mirror https://github.com/pixelbrackets/patchbot/


Patchbot patches a given Git repository.

This means it will clone the repository, create a feature branch, run a given PHP patch script, commit the changes with a given commit message and push the branch to the remote.

Patchbot uses a lean file structure to organize patches (see skeleton package).

The directory patches contains a collection of all your “patch directories“.

Each patch directory always contains at least a PHP script named patch.php and a commit message named commit-message.txt.

Example file structure:

|-- patches
|   |-- template
|   |   |-- commit-message.txt
|   |   `-- patch.php
|   `-- yet-another-patch
|       |-- commit-message.txt
|       `-- patch.php
|-- vendor
|   `-- bin
|       `-- patchbot
|-- composer.json
`-- README.md

This way a migration script may be created once and applied in a row to many repositories or ad hoc every time the need arises.

Apply patch

Pass the name of the patch directory as patch-name and the Git repository as repository-url to the patchbot script.

Example command applying the patch script in directory template to the repository https://git.example.com/repository:

./vendor/bin/patchbot patch --patch-name=template --repository-url=https://git.example.com/repository

Example command applying the patch script in directory template to the repository ssh://git@git.example.com/repository.git:

./vendor/bin/patchbot patch --patch-name=template --repository-url=ssh://git@git.example.com/repository.git

Custom options

To create the feature branch based on the branch development instead of the default main branch use this command:

./vendor/bin/patchbot patch --source-branch=development --patch-name=template --repository-url=https://git.example.com/repository

Patchbot will use a random name for the feature branch. To use a custom name like feature-1337-add-license-file for the feature branch instead run:

./vendor/bin/patchbot patch --branch-name=feature-1337-add-license-file --patch-name=template --repository-url=https://git.example.com/repository

It is recommended to let a CI run all tests. That's why Patchbot creates a feature branch by default. If you want to review complex changes manually before the commit is created, then use the halt-before-commit option:

./vendor/bin/patchbot patch --halt-before-commit --patch-name=template --repository-url=https://git.example.com/repository

To be more verbose add -v to each command. Add -vvv for debugging. This will show all steps and commands applied by Patchbot. The flag --no-ansi will remove output formation.

Merge feature branch

✨️Patchbot intentionally creates a feature branch to apply patches.

When you reviewed the feature branch and all CI tests are successful then you can use Patchbot again to merge the feature branch.

Example command to merge branch bugfix-add-missing-lock-file into branch main in repository https://git.example.com/repository:

./vendor/bin/patchbot merge --source=bugfix-add-missing-lock-file --target=main --repository-url=https://git.example.com/repository

Add a new patch

Example command to create a directory named add-changelog-file and all files needed for the patch (the name is slugified automatically):

./vendor/bin/patchbot create --patch-name="Add CHANGELOG file"

Or copy the example folder template manually instead and rename it as desired.

Now replace the patch code in patch.php and the commit message in commit-message.txt.

🛡 ️Patchbot runs the patch script isolated, as a consequence it is possible to run the script without Patchbot.

💡 Tip: Switch to an existing projekt repository, run php <path to patch directory>/patch.php and develop the patch incrementally. When development is finished, then commit it and use Patchbot to distribute the patch to all other repositories.

The patch code will be executed in the root directory scope of the target repository, keep this in mind for file searches.

Share a patch

The patches created in the patch directory are probably very specific to your organisation or domain. So the best way to share the patches in your organisation is to share the patch project as Git repository.

However, since a motivation for this tool was to reuse migration scripts, you could share general-purpose scripts with others though.

One possible way is to create a GitHub Gist for a single patch.

Example command using the CLI gem gist to upload the template patch:

cd patches/template/
gist -d "Patchbot Patch »template« - Just a template without changes" patch.php commit-message.txt

🔎 Search for Gists with Patchbot tags.

Import a shared patch

Copy & paste all files manually to import an existing patch from another source.

If the source is a Git repository then a Git clone command is sufficient.

Example command importing the Gist https://gist.github.com/pixelbrackets/98664b79c788766e4248f16e268c5745 as patch add-editorconfig:

git clone --depth=1 https://gist.github.com/pixelbrackets/98664b79c788766e4248f16e268c5745 patches/add-editorconfig/
rm -r patches/add-editorconfig/.git

Batch processing

To apply a patch to 1 or 20 repositories you may run the Patchbot script repeatedly with different URLs. To do this with 300 repos you may want to use the batch processing mode instead.

This mode will trigger the patch or merge command for a list of repositories. The list is expected as CSV file named repositories.csv.

repositories.csv - Example file content, with repository & branch to use


The patch subcommand allows all options of the patch command, except for repository-url and source-branch. Both are provided by the repositories.csv file instead.

The following command will apply the patch script update-changelog to all repository URLs in the first column of the repositories.csv file and create the feature branch based on the name in the second column.

./vendor/bin/patchbot batch patch --patch-name=update-changelog

The merge subcommand also allows all options of the merge command, except for repository-url and target. Both are provided by the repositories.csv file instead.

The next command will merge the feature branch feature-add-phpcs-rules into the branch name in the second column of the repositories.csv file and in all repositories of the first column:

./vendor/bin/patchbot batch merge --source=feature-add-phpcs-rules

Different branch names

When the branch names used in the patch and merge subcommand differ, or when you need to merge the feature branch into several stage branches you may provide a file with all branches and pass the name of the designated branch column as option branch-column.

repositories.csv - Example file content with many branch columns


Apply the patch rename-changelog to the feature branch feature-rename-changelog, which is based on branch name given in column development:

./vendor/bin/patchbot batch patch --branch-column=development patch-name=rename-changelog branch-name=feature-rename-changelog

Now merge the feature branch into the branch name given in column test-stage and then into the of given in column integration-stage:

./vendor/bin/patchbot batch merge --branch-column=test-stage source=feature-rename-changelog
./vendor/bin/patchbot batch merge --branch-column=integration-stage source=feature-rename-changelog


GNU General Public License version 2 or later

The GNU General Public License can be found at http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/gpl.html.


Dan Untenzu (mail@pixelbrackets.de / @pixelbrackets)



This script is Open Source, so please use, share, patch, extend or fork it.

Contributions are welcome!


Please send some feedback and share how this package has proven useful to you or how you may help to improve it.